Celebrating International Women’s Day

Friday, March 8, 2019

Proof that behind every strong woman is a rescue animal

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re inspired by the fierce females creating positive change within their communities — including those right here at PetSmart Charities Headquarters.

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our very own leadership team — powered by women from diverse backgrounds, joined together by a mutual passion for strengthening communities through pets.

Read on as we chat with Deborah Turcott, Suzi Berrios, Lindsay Del Chiaro, Amanda Landis-Hannah and Melisa Prat on what leadership really means, lessons learned along the way and the power of unconditional love.

On Leadership

PCI: What does being a true leader mean to you?

Deborah Turcott, Acting President: True leadership is more about individual surrender than individual success. It’s about finding ways to use any skills, ideas or competencies that you have to help others be the greatest version of themselves. The greatest successes you experience as a leader is what others achieve as a result of how you’ve invested in them.

Lindsay Del Chiaro, Director of Programs: A great leader is one who thinks about the team first and how the work the team does impacts the broader organization. Strong leadership isn’t about taking everything on or solving problems for others. It’s about providing the tools to problem-solve while guiding others to success.

Suzi Berrios, Marketing Director: Being a great leader to me is summed up by this quote from Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

On Lessons Learned

PCI: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Amanda Landis-Hannah, Senior Manager - Veterinary Outreach: I have learned to meet people where they are, without judgment or fear, and embrace whatever they bring to the table. A great leader seeks to help others without fear that helping others will in some way diminish the work that they are doing. Regardless of title, degrees or prior experience, everyone has value and unique insight that can bring actionable steps to achieve a common goal.

Melisa Pratt, Center of Excellence Manager - Corporate Partnerships: My mantra has always been “seek first to understand, then be understood.” This has allowed me to open dialogues, create relationships and influence situations and people for the greater good.

Suzi Berrios: Throughout my career, I’ve drawn inspiration from effective leaders who harness their own self-awareness in matters of strengths and values. They then channel those insights toward creating positive change within their teams and organizations. To leverage those traits and empower teams, it’s about listening first. I believe consideration is one of the most important values in any relationship, professional or otherwise, and that starts with listening.

On Camaraderie

PCI: Do you feel a sense of pride being part of this strong, female-led team?

Deborah Turcott: I feel a sense of pride in being part of a team that appreciates the contributions of professionals, independent of gender, race, or other identifiers that can often cloud judgment. The women I serve alongside are an inspiring reflection of courage to face any obstacle, persistent passion for our work in changing lives and commitment to building support networks for one another.

Amanda Landis-Hannah: As a veterinarian working within a group of brilliant women I can show other veterinarians, the veterinary industry, and animal care industry that powerful women support and motivate each other.

Lindsay Del Chiaro: It’s a unique sense of camaraderie and support. I really appreciate the understanding of what it’s like to lead, work hard and raise a family. I’m able to devote my whole self to both areas of my life because I have a team who understands that when a kid gets pink eye or splits his chin on the playground, you just have to go!

Melisa Pratt: Working for an organization that not only supports but respects women in leadership is empowering and inspiring.

On Unconditional Love

PCI: What do your pets mean to you?

Melisa Pratt: Unconditional love in its purest and simplest form. You can be having the roughest day ever and somehow, in my case, my dogs can make it better with one little nuzzle or prolonged look. They are part of the reason I do what I do.

Amanda Landis-Hannah: Pets (and animals in general) are my emotional tether. Whatever has happened during my day, or whatever I’m anxious about in the future, pets do not mind. They live in the moment and are a great reminder that love is unconditional, to be excited to see friends and family and to be playful and curious in all that I do.

Lindsay Del Chiaro: My pet, Maya, is very much a part of my family. She inspires me to get outside and enjoy the little things. She reminds me to take a break, breathe and shift my priorities when necessary. She also reminds me to love unconditionally and to forgive.

On Inspiration

PCI: In what ways have pets (both your own and those we serve) inspired you to become a better leader?

Deborah Turcott: My animals have taught me that my energy or body language can’t be hidden. Their sensitivities to our human emotions have helped me learn how to channel even frustrating energy into something more positive, and when I can’t, to take a step back to re-evaluate my own emotions. Our teams feed off our energy, positive or negative and we are responsible for that influence and its outcomes. My animals have inspired a deeper self-awareness on how my intentions, my body language, and my approach affects those I lead.

Suzi Berrios: When I joined PetSmart I saw written on a coworker's whiteboard, “be the person your dog thinks you are.” Your pets only see the very best in you and as a leader, we should look for the best in others first. Celebrate individuals and their strengths.

Lindsay Del Chiaro: My pets have taught me that life is a game of tug and war. Pick your battles, but remember to listen to all sides, you might end up learning something new and letting go of the battle (or chew toy!).


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