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Area Chief of Staff Support Fellow Veterinarians

Area Chief of Staff Dr. Chihiro Gardiner, DVM, loves helping others grow in their careers. We caught up with her to chat about her own career development, work-life balance, and advice for aspiring Area Chief of Staffs. 

Tell us about yourself: 

I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. When I was a kindergarten, I wanted to be a nurse, but my interest shifted from human medicine to veterinary medicine as I grew up. To attend vet school in Japan, I’d have to pass an entrance exam. Unfortunately, I was not successful. So I was faced with making a life-changing decision: give up the dream to be a veterinarian or continue pursuing my dream outside of Japan. Of course, I chose the latter! 

Why have you stayed with Banfield for over a decade?

After graduating from vet school, I joined a private practice, and it didn’t take long to realize it was not a good fit for me. I connected with my friend from vet school who joined Banfield after graduation. She recommended that I try Banfield, so I did.

I have been working with an amazing group of veterinarians and associates who have mentored me throughout my career, and I am so grateful for each one of them! When I started my family, I elected to be a part-time veterinarian and felt very supported in this choice. Banfield also continues to help me grow as a veterinarian and a leader. After 13 years, I’ve progressed to being an Area Chief of Staff (ACOS) and continue to develop in my career. Banfield provides a great structure for development within a supportive community. 

What does your day-to-day look like?

My morning starts with coffee and taking the kids to school. On the way to school, we’re always silly, and it makes me smile. On the way to work, I prep for my day and switch from my mom hat to vet. I spend 25-50% as a functional veterinarian and the other 50-75%, I onboard new doctors, coach doctors, problem-solve with practice manager partners, support associate learning, and other various projects.

We closed at 6 pm, so I get to have dinner with my family every day. I really enjoy hearing how their days went. On my shorter days, I get to help with homework and support my kids’ activities. Once the kids go to bed, I have time to catch up with my husband, who has provided me with a lot of support in my career. 

Why did you choose to be an ACOS?

I’m fortunate to have felt supported throughout my career, so I wanted to do the same for others. As a Chef of Staff, I onboarded several doctors, supported newer doctors who needed assistance for case management, and provided support during difficult surgeries. I did not know how much I would enjoy providing support for their needs. So, when an ACOS opportunity arose, I jumped on it! Sharing knowledge and skills with the next generation is crucial to continue to grow as a team. Having talented associates benefits pets and clients as well as our entire profession! 

What excites you most about your work with Banfield? 

As ACOS, I enjoy seeing associates grow and gain confidence as they develop in their careers. When they are making career advancements, it gives me chills! I get excited to see new graduate doctors grow and gain confidence. As a veterinarian, I love forming that trusted partnership with clients, so their pets get the care they need to live a great life with their families.

If someone is interested in pursuing an ACOS role, what career tips would you give?

Speak up for your development needs, be authentic, and always seek out feedback to improve. Learn how to be resilient and develop a good life balance—this will help you be a better leader to others. 

What’s your favorite way to spend time outside of work?

I enjoy watching my kids as they work at learning new skills as figure skaters. They are so passionate about skating, and it is such a joy to see them perform on the ice. I love trying new restaurants with friends and cannot wait to travel internationally again to visit my family and friends in Japan! I also enjoy my alone time watching Japanese shows or reading while my cats are on my lap. 

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