Guardian Life comms head Sherry Pudloski joins Zoetis

She leads corporate affairs and comms at the pet healthcare company.

PARSIPPANY, NJ: Guardian Life’s former chief comms officer Sherry Pudloski has joined pet healthcare company Zoetis as EVP and head of corporate affairs and communications.

Zoetis was part of Pfizer but spun off as an independent, publicly held company in 2013. It provides medicines, such as vaccines, parasiticides and medical feed additives, as well as medical services to livestock and domestic pets.

Pudloski left Guardian Life, an insurance company, on March 2 and started at Zoetis on March 9, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I made it just in the nick of time,” she said, talking about dealing with the company’s coronavirus lockdown as she started the new gig. “I was in the office for a day-and-a-half. Then they closed the office right after I got my computer.”

Pudloski is a member of Zoetis’ executive team and reports to CEO Kristin Peck. She oversees 15 staffers, including chief comms officer Bill Price and his team that handles internal and external comms, corporate affairs, digital and brand comms.

She also leads a U.S. public affairs team and small European team that also handles policy and public affairs.

Pudloski said the decision to part ways with Guardian Life was mutual. The insurance company was restructuring and switching its focus to digital marketing. She, conversely, wanted to move into a role that encompassed both corporate communications and public affairs. 

“I started looking at roles and there were several opportunities in the healthcare space that I think are interesting right now,” she said. “Then I was made aware of the Zoetis opportunity and was quite excited about bringing together the public affairs and comms roles into the corporate affairs function.”

Guardian Life declined to comment on Pudloski’s departure or plans for her empty position.

About half of Zoetis’ business is agricultural and half deals with domestic pets.

“The company works across eight species of animals, including dogs and cats,” she said. “It’s a very broad audience. And each kind of farmer and food producers has its own area, like for example cattle and swine. And it’s a global company, in 54 countries.”

While much of the comms work is directed at intermediaries, such as veterinarians, Zoetis is having to embrace a business-to-business-to-consumer approach as pets are increasingly seen as part of people’s families. 

“The company is seen as a very strong partner among our customers and has been very financially successful since it launched out of Pfizer,” Pudloski said. “There is a lot of strength in our relationships and identity in the audiences we know. But we want to build awareness among consumers. Millennials don’t just have pets, they have fur babies. And as the economy grows the role of pets as members of the family grows as well.” 

But that consumer outreach must be done appropriately, Pudloski said.

“Zoetis has had a low profile and that was by design,” Pudloski said, describing the comms challenges she faces. “And it’s figuring out when it’s appropriate to raise our profile and where it makes the most sense to raise the profile and with what audiences.”

In February, Zoetis reported that 2019 Q4 revenue grew 7% to $1.7 billion and net income was $384 million. Revenue also grew 7% for all of last year to $6.3 billion and net income was $1.5 billion.

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