Skip to content

International Member Spotlight: Dr Oliver Knesl

Dr Oliver Knesl - Marketing Lead at Zoetis

In this month's International Spotlight, Dr Oliver Knesl BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc, BVSc, MRCVS, CSAM, tells us about his life and work in New Jersey, USA, where he works as the Marketing Lead for global animal health company, Zoetis.

Can you tell us what organisation you work for and where in the world you are based?

I work for Zoetis, the largest stand-alone animal health company. I am based in Randolph, New Jersey, about 1 hour by train from New York City, and close to the Zoetis global HQ.

What is your role and what area do you specialise in?

I joined Zoetis which was previously Pfizer Animal Health, from clinical practice in New Zealand in 2006 and have held various veterinary professional services, marketing, and commercial leadership roles within the US and International business. I currently serve as the marketing lead for the Zoetis Petcare portfolio of pain products here in the United States.  

Can you give us an overview of the types of work/procedures your workplace does?

As the world’s leading animal health company we discover, develop and promote a wide range of innovative biologicals, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and biodevices across all of the main domestic animal species groups – dogs and cats, horse’s livestock including cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry and fish.

How do you like to start your workday?

Great question – I typically start my day with an early morning run, I’m lucky enough to live in a part of New York that is surrounded by nature so it’s not uncommon for me to see bears, deer, raccoons and foxes before getting back into the home office and reviewing e-mails and meeting requests for the day.

My job involves a fair amount of travel within the US to industry conferences and meetings so typically I’ll be in different locations around the US several times a month. It’s also been a great way to see the US!

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day is taken up with meetings with my team to work through specific projects and tasks, meeting with customers (veterinarians and other members of the veterinary health team who use Zoetis solutions in everyday practice), and project work. This includes managing the various work streams that go into the successful development, launch and lifecycle planning for the products we bring to the veterinary profession and pet owners.

What’s your favourite thing about your role?

Knowing that the products we are developing and bringing to market typically improve the health and welfare of animals, as well as having the ability to follow a product through from it being discovered by Zoetis scientists, to successfully seeing it being utilised by the veterinary health care team to predict, prevent, diagnose, or treat disease in their patients.

Did you always want to be a vet?

Absolutely! For me, I grew up on James Herriot books in South Africa, this prompted me from a very early age. One thing I will say is the veterinary profession is great - you can do anything with a veterinary degree. The power of the human-animal bond drives a lot of what we do. People love animals and it’s great to be able to work with them!

Can you tell us how veterinary regulation differs in the country you work in to the UK’s regulation?

It’s very complicated here in the US! As a whole it’s a highly regulated industry, both for veterinarians and for the pharmaceuticals and biologicals that are used.

In the US the profession is regulated both Nationally through the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), which is required for veterinarians to practice veterinary medicine in all licensing jurisdictions in the US and Canada as well as individual State licensure.   

The veterinary pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated in the US with different regulatory authorities responsible for the registration/approval of veterinary preventives, diagnostics and therapeutics products in the UK and the US.

How does your role uphold and protect animal welfare?

By the provision of innovative products and technologies across the full continuum of veterinary care, Zoetis solutions help practitioners care for their patients. My role is a small cog in the large machine designed to bring those innovative and quite often quality-of-life changing products to veterinarians so that they can provide the best possible care for their patients.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I’m married to Bronwyn, a veterinary nurse and practice manager, and we have two kids, so my family keeps me busy! I enjoy running and we have a yellow Labrador Retriever, Evie, a retired autism service dog, who keeps us active with her requests to go for walks and play ball!

In addition to family life, my son and I shoot competitive archery which is a nice way to relax. I have an avid interest in military history and collect and research medals to past military veterinarians – it’s quite amazing how the profession has changed over the past 200 years. Our past military veterinary colleagues were quite often at the forefront of many of these changes. This interest has taken me all over the world visiting various battlefields. Veterinarians have had a tremendous impact throughout history!

I am also privileged to  serve on the steering committee of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and on the Animal Welfare Advisory Board (AWAB) for the Morris Animal Foundation.


(Could you be our next International Spotlight? Find out more and how to get involved on our 'Could you be our next International Member Spotlight?' page.)

Published on 27 February 2023