NEW EXECUTIVE-LEVEL SEARCH FIRM THERIO PARTNERS ENTERS ANIMAL HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY ECOSYSTEM
Apr. 7, 2021
Source: Therio Partners news release
Pursell's husband shook his head. "I'm not going to tell my wife to get off the phone."
Pursell, an executive search consultant in the animal health industry, was in the midst of negotiating an executive placement for a longtime client. Once the placement was secure, she wrapped up the call and set about giving birth.
Pursell is the force behind The Vet Recruiter, a company that has placed more than 1,000 animal health and veterinary industry professionals, and her reputation for hard work and dedication to her clients is no accident. Now she is embarking on a new venture, one that focuses specifically on C-level executive search and board of directors recruitment. The name? Therio Partners.
Meet Therio Partners
Therio Partners provides retained search services at the C-suite and board level for a number of market sectors focused on animal and pet health, including animal ag-tech, pet care, animal nutrition, animal science, biotechnology, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, pet food, pet tech, and veterinary medicine. Pursell and her team have been providing high-level recruitment services for these sectors for decades under The Vet Recruiter brand, but with the industry's fast growth, she soon saw the need for services completely focused on C-level and board needs.
"People who know me don't question it, but for new companies entering our space, it doesn't make sense to get a call from 'The Vet Recruiter' when the person I'm recruiting is a COO or CMO," Pursell said.
And so Therio Partners was born. One of Pursell's professional mentors is well-known executive search consultant Jeff Christian, who has worked with tech giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (among other claims to fame, Christian placed the first woman on Apple's board of directors and recruited Carly Fiorina as CEO of Hewlett Packard). Christian helped Pursell hone her new company's identity, and it was his idea to use the word "therio," which means "animal" or "beast" in Greek.
The launch of Therio Partners doesn't mean The Vet Recruiter is going away-Pursell and her team will continue to provide search services under that brand specifically for the animal health and veterinary industries. But C-level and board of directors recruitment will move to Therio Partners.
How it all began
Pursell got her start in executive search in the '90s working with Fortune 500 companies. Her niche was food and beverage companies such as Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg's, Colgate and Nestlé. She was the youngest person in her firm when she was hired, and she soon became the top search professional in the office and among the top 10 nationally, breaking company records her co-workers thought were unbeatable.
"When people asked for my secrets, I said, 'I don't have any secrets,'" Pursell said. "I just worked really hard because I had clients counting on me. I like what I do, and I get it done."
Pursell eventually went out on her own, establishing The Vet Recruiter in 2004 and bringing her formidable work ethic exclusively to the animal health, veterinary and pet industries. Some noteworthy accomplishments include helping build the teams at Summit Vet Pharm, which was eventually acquired by Ceva Animal Health, and Aratana Therapeutics, which Elanco purchased in 2016.
"I love seeing my clients' companies grow from infancy to highly successful market leaders and sometimes go public," Pursell said. She finds particular gratification in the letters she receives saying she's changed the lives of her clients and candidates.
Pursell also likes the challenge of finding the "needle in a haystack," that elusive position that's nearly impossible to fill.
"I worked on an R&D position where the client said there were less than 50 people in the world qualified," Pursell said. "They needed a swine vaccine scientist with very specific skills. I knew exactly who the right person was, so I called him and he was hired. I love being able to solve that challenging problem and make my clients happy."
A champion for women
Pursell distinctly recalls being told early in her career that she was "a woman working in a man's world." But she'd never thought of it that way. "I was just doing my job," she said.
Still, she notes that animal health's past reputation as a good-old-boys network came about for a reason. "Sometimes a guy gets hired at a company, and he calls all the boys he used to work with at his old company and brings them over. That doesn't mean they're the best people to fill those roles."
Part of Pursell's mission, as she sees it, is to build pipelines of talent that bring balance to corporate rosters. She does this by identifying the most qualified and diverse slate of candidates. Often the right person is a woman-who might need some convincing.
"I find that women sometimes sell themselves short," she said. "When I reach out, they say, 'I don't think I'm qualified for that position.' And they are absolutely qualified. When I recognize that special something, I encourage them to reach as high as possible in the leadership ranks."
Pursell makes her passion for diversity a point of distinction on her website. She believes that when the board room and the corner offices represent a variety of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, a company can truly flourish.
"We need lots of viewpoints and freedom of thought to achieve the right balance in an organization," she said. "We don't need a bunch of people with the same ideas. That's really what diversity is-diversity of thought."
Bottom line? When companies mobilize Pursell and Therio Partners to find their next CEO, chief operating officer or new board member, they can be confident that the leaders she brings them are the ones building the future of the animal health industry.
For more information or to contact Pursell and her team directly, visit theriopartners.com.