Lecture Programme

Stream lectures do not require pre-booking, however, Friday afternoon workshops must be booked in advance.


8:00: Citation Business Breakfast:  Employment Law Update

9:00: Presidents’ Welcome and Congress Opener
Keynote Speaker: Craig Bennett, The Wildlife Trust

Building a relationship with 46 independent local wildlife trusts as their new CEO would have been a daunting task for any leader, but our keynote speaker, Craig Bennett has never shirked big challenges. Lockdown helped us all re-evaluated our relationship with wildlife and the impact of nature on our wellbeing, but for Craig, the start of lockdown also saw his move to the Wildlife Trusts after almost five campaigning years at the head of Friends of the Earth, UK. Notable campaign successes that he was involved with  included wins over pesticides that harm bees, the moratorium on fracking and the final ruling out of a 3rd runway at Heathrow.  Craig is also advisor to Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership.  From these roles, he knows that winning hearts and minds and building strong teams rather than confrontation is the way to achieve any goal.    In his address, he will share his leadership tips as well as explaining how his rewilding dream of handing back a full third of the UK’s land and see to nature could become reality, and how by giving a little bit of thought to wildlife in our back gardens, we can all contribute to saving the planet.


10:00: How to train your team to love their jobs
Helen Silver-MacMahon, RVN, VetLed

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Incivility in the workplace- what would you do? Stand and fight, turn and run or ignore it?  Turn and run or ignore it, every time!? Am I right?  Feeling vulnerable, alone, useless, sad, tired, and like there’s no way out, It’s so much easier to turn and run  or ignore incivility or poor culture in the workplace rather than address it, but maybe it’s time to change our stance, find the courage to speak up and stay and fight for once!  By creating a culture where any member of the practice team, regardless of job title or pay grade, feels empowered to speak up when they have concerns and stand up to poor or bullying behaviours, knowing they will be heard, a happier, healthy and safer team will emerge and patient outcomes are guaranteed to improve.

Helen is an RVN who is currently studying for a Masters in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors at Edinburgh University. Through developing an understanding of the impact  behaviour has on clinical outcomes and patient safety in a human health setting she is able to investigate how these can be applied in veterinary practice.

In this session, Helen will share case study examples and evidence to explore the role that every team member has in embedding a safe and just culture in vet practice, whether they are receptionist, nurse, new grad, practice owner or manager. She will look at how to set goals, make changes and measure the effect of those changes.

11:00: Shared Leadership
Helen Ballantyne, NHS  

In an increasingly complex world with more expertise and more specialisation, it is less effective in any setting for one person to give orders and others to follow.  This is the thinking behind ‘Shared Leadership’ which is a model increasingly promoted within the human healthcare setting.  In many cases, no individual clinician is an expert in all aspects of the care needed for the patient and therefore cannot lead the others in the team through an entirely command and control model. Instead, individuals within the team take on leadership responsibilities associated with their own area of specialism or interest. Shared leadership offers the potential to empower, and motivate staff at all stages of their career, and allow those in the formal leadership role to delegate with confidence.

Helen Ballantyne obtained a degree in Pharmacology before becoming a veterinary nurse. After ten years as a RVN, she retrained as a human centred nurse, spending two years in cardiothoracic intensive care before moving into transplant nursing.  She will share her thoughts on how the shared leadership model may be applied to veterinary practice, with particular emphasis on empowering nurses to achieve better outcomes for their patients, their clients, themselves and the whole practice team.

12:00: Flexible Working in Practice: what you told us
Silvia Janska, SPVS  & Flexee and Jessica May, Flexee

Do you offer flexible working to your team? If not, why not?  Silvia Janska and Jessica May have had over 500 responses from employers and employees to their industry wide survey about flexible working. Their results show there is a strong demand for flexible working from both employers and employees. During their research they have met practices who have risen to the challenge and tested solutions to offer more flexibility for their staff. However, many employers are still reluctant to test new approaches, citing such things as complex rotas and a concern about fairness to all. Further, there still seems to be some misunderstanding about what flexible working means and the benefits it can bring when it works well. In this session, Silvia and Jessica will pose the question ‘Could flexible working work in my practice while sustaining a profitable business and keeping a unified team?’.

14:00: Veterinary Social Work: A New Paradigm 
Angie Arora, Seneca College, Toronto, Introduced by Diane James, Blue Cross 

Those working in UK veterinary practice will be familiar with bereavement training and some practices may provide support to their teams for compassion fatigue. We are also aware of the many animal-assisted therapies such as PAT Dogs, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and of course, Guide Dogs for the Blind.  But in addition, and arguably the fourth cog in the wheel, is the connection between violence against humans and animals. How do we recognise and respond to animal abuse and support pet parents who face domestic violence? What is, or should be, the role of veterinary practitioners in supporting the needs of pet owners, especially those experiencing challenges in their lives while still working within scope of practice? Angie Arora is Professor and Social Worker specialising in the human-animal bond, based at Seneca College in Toronto Canada and is on the inaugural Board of the International Association for Veterinary Social Work. She has worked in a large animal hospital as a veterinary social worker, providing bereavement training and counselling, support for compassion fatigue and served as a liaison between veterinary staff and pet owners at times of crisis. She describes the concept of veterinary social work with an introduction from Diane James, from Blue Cross, a trained Pet Bereavement Counsellor, who is looking to introduce this area into the work they do.

15:00: Carbon Footprinting your Digital Footprint
Ian Bitterlin, Consulting Engineering

Practices are increasingly thinking about sustainability, but how do you reduce your digital carbon footprint while continuing to be as efficient as possible in data storage and use of technology?  Although the energy needed for a single internet search or email is small, those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity, can add up. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally… and we are talking pre Covid air travel, not 2020!  Ian Bitterlin, a Former Visiting Professor at Leeds University, knows a thing or two about data and shares some tips for greening up your technology.

16:00: Profitable Conversations 
Lisa Bainham, President, Association of Dental Administrators and Managers (ADAM)

Good Leadership and Management starts and ends with good communication.  Everyone in your team should feel as important as everyone else and you, as leader, should have a good grasp of the personalities in your team and how to get the best from them.   Lisa Bainham is President of the Association of Dental Administrators and Managers and has over 23 years’ experience as a manager of a busy multi-site dental practice.   She compares and contrasts the challenges faced by dental practices with vet practices and shares some of the solutions she has found to ensure her whole team work smarter not harder. Good businesses constantly evolve, adapting and changing to new challenges, and the teams that put communication first will have reaped the benefits in the past year.  From how and where to talk to clients about cost, to embracing digital comms without losing the personal touch, to managing any ‘well poisoners’ in your team, this session will take a wide ranging look at the importance of ensuring every conversation with clients or team members is profitable!


10:00: Quality Improvement (QI): Too important to leave to just the vets
Pam Mosedale, RCVS Knowledge QI Clinical Lead

Who is responsible for drawing up protocols & checklists and carrying out the audits, in your practice?   These are vitally important tools for practice improvement and are a new requirement for the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme and the awards.

Putting these tools in place is one thing, but what is the point of them and how do you convince the whole team to use them?

Sometimes these QI tools are seen as purely clinical, even though their successful implementation is all about teamwork and communication. You might be surprised how often someone is tasked with, for instance, checking the temperature of a fridge with no idea why, or even what, the correct temperature is!

This session, led by Pam Mosedale explores the role of practice managers, nurses and the reception team in ensuring quality improvement is properly understood and embedded throughout the whole practice team.

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11:00: Managing Debt
Georgina Hills, IVC and VMG

Depending on who you speak to, the pandemic has been either good for reducing if not eliminating bad debt or has made things much worse.  It may be you are taking more upfront payments, but consultations in the car park can mean fewer conversations about cost.  For most it is probably a bit of both, but maybe it has created an opportunity to revisit this perennial headache.   Good debt management is a mix of water  tight systems, transparent pricing, an effective policy re insurance claims and excellent internal and external communication.   Added to this is an understanding of your client base and a strong policy on when to write off bad debt.

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12:00: What we talk about when we talk about Digital?
Amy Xu, Blue Cross

Everyone talks about digital transformation, but what does it entail? How do you make it work for your organisation and crucially your clients? Amy Xu, a service designer at Blue Cross and former digital strategy consultant, explains why it is imperative to think about Digital holistically and beyond the realms that many would consider as part of a digital transformation programme, such as your ways of working. She will also share how Blue Cross is putting inclusive design at the heart of its digital projects and why the ‘perfect archetype client’ is elusive.

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14:00: What Makes Some Practices Supersonic?
Mark Harwood,

There are those practices that do well, then there are those that really fly.  They are super profitable, their teams are happy and staff turnover is low.  So what are they doing that makes them a cut above the rest?  According to Mark Harwood,  numbers do matter, and the successful practices know which KPIs to measure, how often, and what to do with the results.  It is also about creating good habits (and minimising the bad!),  attention to detail, a positive mindset, consistency, and teamwork. In this session, Mark will use a mix of different case study practices to drill down to the essentials, comparing and contrasting the supersonic practices.  He will provide some top business tips from these practices together with a check list of ten take outs that you can start implementing in your practice now, to help you and your team take off and keep flying.

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15:00: Body Language: your most important communication tool
Gary Lafferty

Whether you have to deliver a presentation, head up a staff meeting, or simply meet a new potential client, chances are that you will take the time to prepare what words you want to use. However, how many times do you take the time to consider the non verbal cues we are giving when we are delivering those well crafted words of wisdom?

Numerous studies have shown that a significant percentage of our communication is nonverbal. But we rarely think about our body language and what impressions we are creating in the minds of those listening. They say that first impressions are important and that people are constantly judging us.  The world of business is no different. As a matter of fact, this environment is an whole arena of unspoken language. Often, it’s what isn’t said that is heard the loudest. From pitches to board meetings, your body language illustrates your confidence, your commitment and your intentions more than you may realize.

The truth is that body language is either working with you or against you — there’s not a lot of room in between.  From manspreading to hands in pockets, leaning in vs arms crossed, you really can influence how your message is received.  And the two need to work together; if your gestures are not in alignment with your words, then you will lose trust.

Gary Lafferty is an author, who has taught and mentored tens of thousands of people across six continents in how to structure and monetize their message.  Here he shares some tips on making the right impression without opening your mouth!

16:00: Veterinary Websites Fit for a Pandemic and a Post-Covid World
Andrew Rastall, Connected Vet

One thing that Covid taught us is that a veterinary practice website is about a lot more than just offering a shop window for prospective clients.  As receptions came under pressure and practices fought to keep up with an un-predictable and rapidly changing situation, practice owners found that their website became a vital conduit to inform, direct and in many instances slow down client demand for services.

In this session, Andrew Rastall shares his experience of creating and managing vet websites, with case study examples of how the websites of small to medium sized practices can stand up to even the most organised opposition.  He will show how to ensure your website is technically future-proofed as well as capable of dealing with the un-expected.  He will take you through what he believes is the single most critical technology that will revolutionise how your practice’s website will perform in 2021 & beyond and describe the seven website building blocks that have remained consistent throughout the pandemic period.


10:00: 21st Century Leadership: From now to wow
Richard Casey, VMG President & Blue Cross

Research by VMG has identified some key strengths and weaknesses that managers perceive in their skill sets.  That is the ‘Now’.  How do you correctly identify your own personal management and leadership weaknesses and strengths, and plan a path from ‘Now’ to ‘Wow’?  In this session, Richard Casey will explore what good looks like in terms of key leadership skills and take you through a list of the areas that the evidence suggests managers want to strengthen.  For each of these, which will include such things as giving and receiving feedback, developing teams and planning and organising, Richard will offer one top take home tip, plus signposting to where you might go next for your own personal development plan.

11:00: Evidence Based Leadership: findings from VMG Research Awards
Kerrie Hedley, XL Vets and Caroline Clarke, Open University

In 2019, VMG awarded the first of their annual grants to support research aimed at advancing the understanding of contemporary veterinary business, leadership and management.

Two of the first recipients of these awards will present their work in this session and compare and contrast any overlaps in their findings.  Kerrie Hedley, Chief Operating Officer at XL Vets has investigated why women vets appear to be under-represented in leadership positions within the UK.  Caroline Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at the Open University followed up her earlier research into women in vet practice by looking at why so many qualified vets leave the profession and what, if anything, leaders can do to stem the flow and even encourage those who have left, back into practice.

12:00: Leading in a Time of Change
Rebecca Tindall, PDSA

Through ‘normal’ times, a well-managed vet practice should be a relatively stable and unchanging workplace.   You may not know which clients you will see that day or what new clinical cases are going to be presented and as a manager, you may see different people issues day on day.    However, the systems, the premises, your relationships with colleagues are hopefully stable, functional and productive.   But want happens when nothing seems stable? what we learnt through the pandemic was how challenging rapid change can be.  One thing about rapid uncontrollable change is that its happening and you are managing it!

This session will focus on helping us reflect on how we have managed change, what can we learn about us as leaders from the period of time we have been through and what can we do differently when faced with change in the future. Rebecca Tindall, Head of HR and Development at PDSA, describes how to create that culture and to be that leader, drawing on some of the experiences managers have faced since March 2020.

14:00: Vision, Values and Strategy: A Re-envisioned Approach to what they are and why they matter
Katherine Eitel Belt, LionSpeak

The traditional approach to vision and values can make great wallpaper for corporate headquarters or pithy sound bites on a website but in reality they often never actually influence behaviour or decision-making at the ground level.  Whether you are part of a large group or a small independent practice, you need your team to understand and buy in to your vision, values and strategy.  They should be alive, meaningful, and influential for your team.  It is hard for them to do that if you haven’t clarified these for yourself and articulated them in a clear and inspiring way.  And your vision and values is not a ‘one and done’ but should be constantly reviewed and refreshed, particularly after something as life changing as a pandemic.   If well written and communicated they will then form the basis for all subsequent communication and the benchmarks for you to measure team behaviour and performance.   In this session, Katherine Eitel-Belt will outline a new and “re-envisioned” approach to vision, values, and strategy, what to include and what to leave out and how to use them to rally and align your team to become accountable for the outcomes you need and want.

15:00: Restoring the Joy:  Dealing with post Covid burnout
Jesse McCall, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)  

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As we come out of the pandemic, many workers in both human and veterinary medicine across the world are reporting high levels of stress and burnout.  So how can we restore the joy?

The  Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) started in the US and now has a footprint across the world from Asia to Latin America, Europe to Africa and the Middle East.  A key area of work is to offer new thinking and resources around joy in work – to share principles and techniques that enable the workforce to truly thrive, not just survive.

The most joyful, productive, engaged staff feel both physically and psychologically safe, appreciate the meaning and purpose of their work, have some choice and control over their time, experience camaraderie with others at work, and perceive their work life to be fair and equitable.  There are proven methods for creating a positive work environment that creates these conditions and ensures the commitment to deliver high-quality care to patients, even in stressful times.

Jesse McCall leads the Joy in Work team at IHI.  For this interactive session he joins us from the US to share how teams can work together to nurture their colleagues and address the issues that drive burnout and sap joy in work. These are packaged up in a practical framework that can be easily adapted for different healthcare settings, with an aim to reverse the worrying trend of burnout and to create positive work environments that foster equity, camaraderie, meaning, choice, and a shared commitment to deliver high-quality care.

16:00: Four Questions to Achieve Team Compliance without being the ‘bad guy’
Katherine Eitel-Belt, LionSpeak

In an era of inclusive leadership with the emphasis on consensus and teamwork, it may sound old fashioned to say ‘my practice; my rules’, but these should not be incompatible.   In this session, Katherine Eitel-Belt looks at the reasons someone might not be delivering the outcomes you want.   Are they unaware of what they should be doing?  Do they not have the skills, the emotional intelligence or the intellect required? Or are they choosing to be non-compliant?  Working through these and really understanding each step will allow you to rationalise under-performance and tackle bad behaviour so that you can finally build that dream team: self-directed, innovative, compliant and aligned!

STREAM D:  European  Chair: Torill Moseng,Vice-President FVE/Federation of Veterinarians of Europe

10:00: Practice Consolidation: what Europe can learn from a mature veterinary market
David Giraldi, Vet Partners, Italy  in conversation with Alan Robinson, Vet Dynamics, UK

For the UK, purchase and consolidation of vet practices started around 20 years ago with a change in legislation allowing non vets to own practices.  This has led to very large independently owned businesses and large partnerships and a handful of much larger ‘corporate’ vet groups.  This is in sharp contrast to much of mainland Europe where a fragmented market of small privately owned vet practices is still the norm.  But a number of the larger players who operate in the UK are now moving into Europe.  What are the lessons to be learnt from the UK, probably the most mature veterinary market in the world right now.  Can ‘corporatisation’ of the profession lead to a rise in standards?  Is there a danger that profit will be come more important than values? What are the alternative ways to exit your practice, including selling to your team?  What other models are available? Does maturity leave space for new start ups?  David Giraldi has worked in practice in the UK and Italy and has spoken at vet congresses across the world.  He explains why he made the decision to join Vet Partners in Italy and assesses the lessons that can be learnt from the UK experience.  He is in conversation with Alan Robinson of Vet Dynamics, a business consultancy based in the UK that works largely with independent practice.

11:00:  Team Engagement and Retention: a worldwide challenge
Joop Loomans, Oculus Insights

Whether you are managing a vet practice in North America, the Netherlands, Italy, China or UK, finding young committed skilled vets and vet nurses has been a key challenge over the past few years with little signs of things improving.  Therefore understanding how to engage and retain those you have is more important than ever.  Joop Loomans is a vet based in The Netherlands, and a partner in Oculus Insights, a consultancy providing business management and performance solutions to vet businesses across the world.  He will share data collected by Oculus and examine the common challenges as well as offering some solutions to team engagement and retention.

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12:00:  Giving and Receiving Feedback: common mistakes and practical solutions from real coaching sessions with vets
Miguel Ángel Díaz Sánchez, New Way Coaching

Miguel Angel Diaz Sanchez (Pancho Vet) brings his 25 years experience of running a veterinary hospital in Spain to his coaching business, working with vets and vet practices across the world.  He sees many cultural differences and of course the economic climate in which vets are operating varies from Latin America to Asia to Northern Europe, but one very familiar theme has emerged.  Vets all over the world seem to be particularly poor when it comes to both giving and receiving feedback!  In this session, Pancho explores some of the possible reasons for this and comes up with some solutions.  Whether you are a manager, giving feedback to your vets, or a vet who struggles to accept feedback, Pancho’s humour, common sense, international perspective and sound advice make this a must see lecture.

14:00:  Why we still need to talk about women in the profession: an international view
Elli Kalemtzaki, Certified Coach & NLP Practitioner; Gudrun Ravetz, Simply Health Professionals, Makenzie Peterson,
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI).  Chair: Torill Moseng, Norwegian Veterinary Association and Vice President, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE)

When Vet and Veterinary Practice Business consultant, Elli Kalemtzaki carried out an on-line survey of women in the profession ahead of a presentation she will give at WSAVA/FECAVA Congress, she was amazed by the range of responses.  Some respondents  reported perceived gender bias from employees and pet owners, others asked why she was raising this at all as, in their opinion, ‘it was no longer an issue’.   In the UK, research commissioned by the British Veterinary Association, just a couple of years ago, presented two CVs of vets to veterinary leaders, male and female, identical except for gender.  The responses suggested a surprising level of bias in a country where there is now a very high percentage of female vets.   In the US, recent research has shown a gender pay gap across the veterinary profession.  Add to that reports that women’s career equality has suffered significantly during the pandemic.  So do we still need to talk about women in the veterinary profession?  There is no doubt that across the world the number of women in the profession is increasing, so how are business owners and employers going to attract and retain the best vets for their practice?  And how can women themselves ensure the profession works for them as well as ensuring they best serve the profession.  Elli Kalemtzaki will summarise her survey  findings, Gudrun Ravetz, ex-President of BVA will cover that research and Makenzie Peterson will report from the US.  Torill Moseng will give a pan European perspective as well as chairing questions and comments from the audience.


09:00: Boehringer Keynote Speech: Inclusive Leadership                                                                                                                                                            Femi Otitoju, Challenge Consultancy

Are you an inclusive leader?  This is not just about how diverse your team is, although that is important, rather it is how you are perceived by the people you lead.  You may have a multidisciplinary team that combines the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural backgrounds, younger and older workers, and, in a practice setting, vets, nurses, receptionists and managers, but, according to Harvard Business School, the team are more likely to report making high quality decisions and working collaboratively if they perceive their leaders to be inclusive.  In this session, Femi Otitoju will explain what makes an inclusive leader, how you can become one, and why it matters to each and every team.


10:00: Covid 19: A business opportunity?
Alan Robinson, Vet Dynamics

No one in vet practice will have been unchallenged during 2020/2021, but after the tumultuous and stressful first lockdown, when life started to return to a ‘new normal’, there has been a spike in profitability recorded by many vet businesses.  There are several reasons for this; an uptick in pet ownership, clients at home spending more time with their pets, some staffing – or staff costs – reduced, adoption of new technology, and for many an opportunity (or even necessity) to be more choosy about their clients, finally ditching some of those bad debtors who take up time but don’t pay.  But that has come at a cost.  Your team may be exhausted and there is the challenge of bring teams back together.  Practice managers, clinical directors and owners may also have found they have been short of ‘head space’ in the past year and as a result their long term to do lists have grown.  Now could be the time to step back and assess what changes have been good and should be kept, what needs to go and how to use this massive disruption to ‘business as usual’ to bring about lasting business benefits.




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11:00: Sustainability in Practice – where to start? And where to go next?
Hannah James, VetPartners

As sustainability rises up the agenda in society and business, many practices want to take action to become more sustainable. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do, and there’s a huge range of business benefits as well.  But with such a variety of issues to tackle, busy practices may wonder ‘where do I start?’ Hannah James is Sustainability Manager for Vet Partners, advising practices across the group on everything from how to recycle PPE, to the best thing to put in a bird feeder!  Hannah will share her experience with examples from the practices she works with, giving advice on where to start, how to adapt your approach to your specific practice, and how to keep the momentum going once you’ve implemented the ‘quick wins’.

12:00: A coaching approach to leadership and learning in your workplace
Rachel Davis PhD, PGDip, PGCAP, BSc (Hons.), FHEA The Coaching Cabin

The veterinary workplace is a dynamically complex and challenging environment and therefore requires its people to operate under almost constant stretch. Stretch is required for continued professional development but, under certain conditions, can do the opposite and slow learning down, negatively impacting well-being. Coaching approaches help people remain open to learning under stretch, are solutions-focussed and are about empowering people to make decisions that better align personal and professional values and goals. For coaching approaches to work well, managers and leaders must first understand and attend to their own needs, creating a stable base from which they themselves can function well. Managers and leaders adopting coaching approaches create environments that enable their whole team to perform well, achieving their full potential and successfully balancing personal and professional wellbeing.


10:00: Psychological Safety: what is it and why it matters
Lynne Gaskarth, Drove Vets; Dr Abosede Ajayi, Imperial College NHS Trust and Sports Medicine International, Kelly Paull, NHS.  Chair: Carolyne Crowe, VDS Training

There has been much talk of clinical improvement, check lists, and human factors alongside team wellbeing and better communication.  At the heart of all of this is ‘psychological safety’, creating a culture where people feel able to talk and believe they are listened to.  In this session we bring together a clinical psychologist working with NHS frontline staff during the pandemic, a doctor who has worked with top sports people and teams, and a Director of a large independent vet practice to discuss the importance of psychological safety in optimising performance, enhancing learning, patient safety and personal development.   Carolyne Crowe from VDS Training, a passionate advocate for psychological safety, will lead the discussion.

11:00: Right person; right task; right time: the nurses’ role in Vet Led Teams
Wendy Nevins, Malex Consulting

The last year will have been challenging for everyone, not least nurses.  With nurse consults cancelled and nurses often needed in consult rooms to restrain patients, many felt they were ‘no longer nursing’.  But as against that, there have been opportunities to step up, taking histories in car parks and smaller teams meaning less obvious demarcation between roles.  In parallel, discussions continue about changes to what nurses are legally allowed to do, and making better use of what is already in Schedule 3, in a move to more ‘vet led teams’.  As past President of BVNA, consultant and locum RVN, Wendy Nevins talks to a lot of nurses and sees a range of practices close up.  Her mantra is ‘right person, right task, right time’ and she believes it is often up to the nurse to start the conversation about a more sensible and efficient division of labour and skills within practice.

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12:00: Challenging Conversations
Marissa Robson, BVEDS; Charlotte McCarroll, Surrey Vet School; Claire Hodgson, ‘Spoonies community’.  Chair: Femi Otitoju, Challenge Consultancy

If you were applying for a job, would you challenge a racist, ableist or homophobic comment during the interview?   And what if you were part of the minority group in question? How do you protect your mental wellbeing? If a client makes a racist or homophobic comment intentionally or unintentionally, do you know how you would call it out?   How about if it comes from a colleague in the practice coffee room?  And if you did, would you be supported by your boss and colleagues?  What constitutes an unacceptable comment?   Would your practice be welcoming to anyone with a disability or chronic illness, physical or mental? If not, why not?  Can minorities be ‘too sensitive’? What are the common themes that the majority don’t get? How do you gently make your point, without escalating the situation? How do you take feedback about your behaviour with grace?  How do allies best show support for their peers in the face of an unpleasant incident. Maybe you are able bodied, cis gender, heterosexual and white, but worry about the right language to use or that you may inadvertently cause offence?  What do you do when you do trip up?

These questions are why, as a profession, we need to talk about and explore the ‘Challenging Conversations’  that are faced in everyday practice. Charlotte McCarroll teaches pre-clinical medicine at Surrey Vet School and is an award winning advocate for diversity and inclusion within STEM.   She is joined by Issa Robson, who is a clinical teaching fellow at Surrey and co-founder of BVEDS (British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society) and  Claire Hodgson from BVCIS (British Veterinary Chronic Illness Society) and the ‘Spoonies’ community.

Femi Otitoju from Challenge Consultancy will chair the discussion around how to challenge ‘isms’ in colleagues, team members and clients with those who may be unaware their micro-aggressions are a problem.  All staff need to recognise the impact of unconscious bias from yourself and others on the ways we work and to feel empowered to challenge overt prejudice. This discussion will give a taster, with the option for those who would like to engage more, to move to a different space for a workshop session. 


10:00: Employee-Owned Trust: A new model for succession
Matt Flann and Caroline Collins, Pennard Vets

What do John Lewis, Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace and Gromit), Riverford Organics and Pennard Vets in Kent have in common?  They are all employee-owned trusts.   Pennard Vets is a multi-site, small animal practice with around 18 full-time equivalent vets and 100 team members in total.  Their three directors had started to think about succession planning and inspite of generous offers from the large vet groups, were keen to explore other options.  Much research and googling later, they came across the concept of an employee-owned trust and is the largest veterinary practice in the UK to do this.  In this session, Pennard Directors, Matt Flann and Caroline Collins share their journey and explain why they were looking for alternatives to the corporate model and how the EOT will work for their team.

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11:00: Moving Up to Management
Femi Otitoju, Challenge Consultancy

Whether you are a nurse who has recently become a head nurse or maybe a practice manager, or a vet who has recently moved to a CD role, moving into a management role can be daunting, particularly if you are promoted within your practice and so find yourself managing colleagues. But if you make the transition smoothly, it can be very rewarding both to the practice and to you personally. There are some key things you can learn such as how to give positive feedback, effective delegation, ways to motivate others and the importance of consistency.   Femi Otitoju has many years of experience training managers and leaders in a wide range of companies and sectors and she will share some of this here.  Existing managers may also wish to tune in to fine tune their management techniques!


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12:00: Expanding the Pie: win wins in client, team or personal negotiations
Bob Magnus, Oculus Insights 

We all negotiate every day in some way or other; from getting kids to school (or more recently homeschooling!) to creating a new rota in the practice.   Bob Magnus, founded and ran a large equine veterinary practice in Wisconsin, USA for 13 years before moving more and more into veterinary business management consulting which he has been doing now for over 15 years.  He believes everyone in the practice from receptionist to GP vet to owner or senior manager can benefit from learning the art of negotiation.  In this session he will concentrate on how to make every interaction a win win by stepping back, reassessing the situation and if necessary ‘expanding the pie’.   Bob has coached vets all over the world and will touch on recognising and understanding cultural and personality differences within your team and among your clients and amending your negotiations accordingly.


10:00: Leading Remotely
Paul Horwood, Sandstone Communications

Managing a peripatetic workforce, be they large animal or equine, can be difficult at the best of times and the restrictions around the pandemic have exacerbated this.  The loneliness and isolation felt by some vets has been cited as reasons for leaving the profession while others have talked about the negative impact on mental health and wellbeing.  For the boss or manager, having to interact, motivate, and lead the team remotely is just that much harder.  Paul Horwood has worked in large animal practice in the US and UK, including as a Partner in a large animal veterinary group.  He now runs a management consultancy helping businesses large and small outside the profession create high performing teams.  He brings this mix of experience to discuss how you can best support, manage, and lead a team who spend most of their working day on farms, in yards or on the road.

11:00: Marketing Equine Practice: a case study
Justin Phillips, Founder, Practice Made Purrfect

Why do smallies get all the limelight?  In this session, Justin Phillips applies his passion for marketing to equine practice and shares how he has helped one equine practice re-evaluate their marketing to achieve their business goals.  An ambitious target at the best of times, but particularly poignant in the middle of a pandemic.   Spoiler alert! There has never been a more vital time to invest in your practice and tell the story of the heroes behind the masks.

Justin will take you through the first year’s activity from agreeing the objectives, identifying all the client touch points and evaluating which activities will give the best return, relative to the investment of time and money. He’ll de-myth how you get Google working for you, use reminders to boost patient recall and supercharge your Health Plan to build reoccurring revenue. Equine vets are blessed with a highly engaged, deeply invested client base with enormous potential to create a powerful community of advocates; Justin shows how to make the most of this to build business.

12:00: Equine Debit Management & Credit/cashflow
Liz Somerville, VMG and Loch Leven Equine

Cash is King is it not? So why then do we manage debt so badly in equine practice? Is it our client base, maybe they expect to be able to run up bills and not pay for several months or worse still move to another practice when they have an emergency at 2am. Or maybe we have trained them through years of offering free credit that this is ok? The impact of poor debt management is huge, it impacts your business’ ability to pay bills and invest in your team, stifles growth and causes many sleepless nights for practice owners. Loch Leven Equine Practice had a good debt management strategy before COVID with weekly invoicing, 14 days credit, a prompt payment discount for payment on the day and payment at the time for new clients. However on 23rd March 2020 everything changed. Liz Somerville is going to share her experience of how she used COVID to make the jump from offering credit to clients to asking for payment on the day and the many positives that have come from it.

14:00: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in Herd Health Management in UK and US
Andre Rigo, Cainthus, US; Stuart Russell, Define:Ag, UK and Sally Wilson, Evolution Farm Vets, UK

In the US, it is not unusual for a dairy herd to have 10 – 12,000 cows in one location. For these herds, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to gather data on, for instance, lying, standing and feeding times.  These can help show very quickly the impact on yield of management, staff or feeding changes.  In this session, Andre Rigo, a vet working on AI in large herds in the US, takes us on a tour of a super-herd set up in California, explaining how the latest AI applications help improve farm management, and how the same principles can be applied to typical UK herds. Stuart Russell, UK Dairy vet and data scientist with Define:Ag, assesses what is available and being used right now in the UK, and together with Sally Wilson from Evolution Farm Vets, they discuss the future of AI in herd health management and measurement of such things as welfare and productivity. Might this help the current frustrations of self-reporting when it comes to submitting lameness and mobility data to the large milk buyers?   And, crucially, what role does the vet have to play?


14:00-16:00: How to write compelling online content
Andrew Rastall, Connected Vet

Maximum number of participants:  10

According to digital marketing guru Seth Godin, ‘Content marketing really is the only marketing that’s left’. Yet increasingly the written content most independent vets offer on their websites, through their email and in social media, leaves many of the written content ‘quick wins’ ….. well…un won!

Join professional online content creator and experienced digital marketeer Andrew Rastall from Connected Vet for this two hour practical workshop.  The hands on session will not just introduce you to the principles of producing good online written content, it will also show you practical examples of how to implement those guidelines in your digital channels.

In one of Connected Vet’s most popular workshops of 2021 (second only to ‘How to buy a website’) Andrew will demonstrate the opportunities that good online written content offers.  He’ll outline the change of mindset vets need to adopt when writing for online.  Then he’ll introduce Connected Vet’s nine-step methodology that will help any practice create more effective web, email and social prose. If delegates have been active in the session, he’ll finish the workshop with three hacks on how you can be more creative.

14:00 – 16:00: Wellbeing in Practice
Andy Rose & Holly Sutton, VetFit

Introduction to VetFit. Discussion on understanding of wellbeing. Exercise in practice. Mental resilience training. Implementing wellbeing strategies in practice.

14:00 – 15:00: Achieving your career goals
Tony Noble & Kay Ritchie RVN, Noble Futures

Career planning and road mapping.  Some core points, hints and tips on getting there or how to handle the career changes / diversions. Getting noticed – CV preparation, Social platforms, networking (digital and in person), personal and professional development.  The changing landscape for jobseekers – Digital, Direct and Agency – It’s a busy space, what is changing and how do you keep up!

15:00 – 16:00: Attract and retain top talent
Tony Noble & Kay Ritchie RVN, Noble Futures

Attracting top talent. Retaining your people. Career planning for your business and your employees – building a succession or growth plan. The changing landscape for hiring businesses – Digital, Direct and Agency – It’s a busy space, what is changing and how do you not get left behind.

14:00 – 16:00: Challenging Conversations
Issa Robson, British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society (BVEDS) & Charlotte McCarroll, Surrey Vet School

Maximum number of attendees: 30

Following on from their session in the main programme, join Issa and Charlotte for this interactive workshop expanding on dealing with ‘challenging’ situations, specifically in regards to discriminatory comments or actions from clients or colleagues.

The workshop will start with a video of various scenarios that you may come across in the workplace – impact, implications and potential solutions will be discussed from multiple perspectives. Attendees will then break out into smaller groups to workshop situations that they may themselves have been involved with or are concerned about learning to address in their own workplaces.

You will also be provided signposting to resources to ensure the support of your team in ‘challenging’ situations moving forward.

14:00 – 16:00: Coaching tools for leaders and managers to takeaway and use today!
Rachel Davis PhD, PGDip, PGCAP, BSc (Hons.), FHEA

Maximum number of attendees: 200

Welcome and intro to session: coaching ground rules. Arrivals and presence: noticing activity. Coaching demo: with volunteers for speed-coaching!. Coaching triads in breakout groups – creating space for high quality thinking.

14:00 – 15:30: Management accounts and how to use them!
Mark Harwood & Suzanne Headington, Hazlewoods

Maximum number of attendees: 60

Join Mark and Suzanne for an interactive workshop on how to review management accounts and use the data within them to make the best decisions for you and your practice. This session is suitable for all those interested in the financial management of practice no matter what level of experience you may have.

Breaking out into small teams, you will be presented with sample accounts and different scenarios, then asked to make various operational, structural and financial decisions, considering the pros and cons of these along with the financial implications they may have.

After reporting back to the main group, Mark and Suzanne will guide a discussion on what learnings have been made and how these can be taken back and implemented in practice.