Banfield Area Chief of Staff: A Role Designed to Help Others
Certified Public Accountant isn’t your typical start for a career in veterinary medicine, but as Dr. David Wright, DVM, knows it is never too late to change your career path. From CPA to private practice and now Area Chief of Staff at Banfield, Dr. Wright has a vast range of experience that he uses to help other doctors grow in their own careers. In the Area Chief of Staff role, Dr. Wright has the freedom to continue his work as a veterinarian, while also being in a position to onboard and coach other doctors! Banfield created this role based on associate feedback to have more veterinarian leadership roles that support locally. We had a great conversation with him about career paths, his day-to-day role, and essential skills for leaders.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey with Banfield:
I graduated from Auburn University CVM in 2004; however, veterinary medicine was not my first career path. Prior, I was a CPA and worked in the accounting department for an insurance company. After graduating from veterinary school, I worked in private practice as an associate DVM, owner/partner, and did relief work for both general and emergency practice. I joined Banfield in 2018 and worked as an associate DVM until 2021 when I started in the position of Area Chief of Staff (ACOS). My area currently consists of three hospitals, all within an hour's drive of each other. I love that there are so many career paths within the Mars Veterinary Heath umbrella, and I certainly hope to retire from here within the next 12-15 years.
Why did you choose to become an ACOS?
When I was offered the ACOS position, it was a new role, but the job description sounded like it was written specifically for me. I loved the idea of cutting back on my everyday clinical work and being in a position to help others in their journey.
I could immediately see the need for the position—creating leadership for all the doctors in individual hospitals, increasing engagement. I'm excited to use my years of experience to help mentor and develop others in their journey.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I start each day by looking for opportunities at any of my hospitals. If I am not needed to work clinically anywhere, I use the opportunity to visit a hospital and build relationships with the team. I may take on any task, from helping prep for surgery to working on necessary reports. I try to relay information and complements to the team as a whole to increase comradery and engagement. I am fortunate to have the ability to mentor a recent grad and help her build skills and confidence, both medically and surgically. Typically, I will spend an entire day at one hospital, but there are times I visit more than one. I think the key is remaining flexible, willing, and able to jump in wherever needed.
What do you look forward to the most in your work with Banfield?
I enjoy the daily interaction with the teams in the different hospitals. I like to be helpful and feel needed, and I think this position is ideal for that scenario.
If someone is interested in pursuing an ACOS role, what career tips would you give?
My first piece of advice would be to work with your current ACOS or line manager and express your interest in the role. Then, continue to grow your experiences and expand your skillset. The two areas that were most beneficial for me in my development plan were "Conflict Management" and "Build a Stronger Team." I would highly suggest building your skills in these areas as well. Finally, I would consider the ASK training (Intro to suicide prevention) essential for anyone in a leadership position.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Live humbly and with integrity, and always put others before yourself.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I've often been compared to a tortoise. That's likely because I'm a slow-moving, land animal that tends to retract inside his shell for protection. However, I would also consider myself slow to anger, slow to judge, and slow to speak. And hopefully, there is some truth to "slow and steady wins the race."