Napier, New Zealand — As a relatively new full-time member of the pet food manufacturing industry, Pevini Watson, Ph.D., is ready to hit the ground running. After achieving his Ph.D. Along with many difficulties during his undergraduate studies at ZIWI Ltd. A successful internship with, Watson is now leveraging her pet nutrition expertise to benefit ZIWI’s research and development team.
“Innovation is something that, as a business, we’re looking forward to expanding in terms of new technologies and pet food concepts and, as an R&D technologist, his It’s exciting to be a part.”
In the following Q&A, this young pet industry professional provides timely advice for other aspiring leaders and shares the top trends and consumer preferences set to drive the industry forward.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Watson: I work as an R&D Technologist at ZIWI Limited, a premium pet food manufacturer based in New Zealand. We develop and manufacture high quality beef products in the ultra-premium market. We’ve experienced a lot of growth within the company recently and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that we’re excited about.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience get you to where you are now?
Watson: My career in the pet food industry began in the summer of 2015. As part of my undergraduate degree in food technology, we had to complete a summer internship in the food industry and I ended up working with a local company that manufactures pet chews and treats. . From there I completed another internship at ZIWI Ltd the following summer, followed by my fourth year food technology project, then my Masters and finally my PhD. For the company with funding from various scholarships.
I have been employed by ZIWI Ltd for about 18 months now and have seen it all as a student specializing in pet food research and how different it is in the industry — in a good way.
PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?
Watson: For me, I had a really tough time during my Ph.D. And my first six months as a working professional.
I started my Ph.D. In August 2019, and we all know that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone. Obviously, my project was affected by supply chain delays, travel restrictions and lockdowns, but by some miracle, I finally got there.
In addition to these setbacks, I started working for ZIWI before finishing my dissertation, so I spent the first month not only adjusting to full-time work but also finalizing my writing. You’d think that was tough enough, but flash forward to Valentine’s Day 2023, when our city and workplace were flooded by Hurricane Gabriel. That was also the day I was notified when my oral exam would be, and since we had no cell phone reception or service, contacting the university to lock in a date was a nightmare — But, again, it all worked out.
PFP: Tell me about a professional achievement in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Watson: I am honestly very proud that I completed my Ph.D. In a somewhat timely matter, considering all the hardships I faced during this time. I also have two publications to my name, exploring topics I am passionate about and contributing to pet nutrition research.
PFP: What is the top thing in the industry right now for you and/or your business?
Watson: I think sustainability is now front of mind for all pet food businesses, not just in terms of packaging but in terms of sourcing ingredients and making sure we’re all doing what we can. Are doing to be the best. I also believe that innovation is something that, as a business, we hope to expand in terms of new technologies and pet food concepts and, as an R&D technologist, part of that. It’s exciting to be.
PFP: If you could pick three trends affecting the industry today, which are the most important and why?
Watson: Premiumization and humanization have always been two important trends that have gone hand in hand and are still very popular today. There is also a demand for related foods as pet owners are now more aware of what they are buying for their pets, so foods that provide specific benefits are more on their radar. . Finally, sustainability, as mentioned earlier, is important and has received a lot of attention in the industry.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside the industry might not realize?
Watson: There are many regulatory requirements to consider when making pet food. Of course, there is AAFCO and FEDIAF but, especially within the US, some states have additional regulations that must be considered, which makes things interesting.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Watson: I’d say stick with it, and you’ll find yourself part of such a cool industry. For me, I now know many professionals in the New Zealand pet food industry and am starting to meet pet food professionals from all over the world. It really is such a tight community, and who knows what opportunities may come your way.
PFP: Just for fun, do you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person? Or, if you have pets of your own, tell us a little about them.
Watson: My PhD involves feeding cats, so I’m more cat than dog. I had a ragdoll, but he lives with my sister-in-law now because we moved across the country for work and many rentals don’t allow pets. It’s been a little rough, but he’s living his best life on the farm.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Watson: My advice would be to not be afraid to reach out to people, ask for help when needed, and ask questions. I struggled with this as a newbie in the industry, but I’ve slowly learned that you don’t need to know everything under the sun, and that reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, but actually a lot of courage. It is necessary and indeed it is. Help you in the long run.
Pavinee Watson, Ph.D., is a recent graduate of Massey University in New Zealand, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food technology and doctorate degrees in animal science. His PhD thesis was titled, “Identification of Beef and Lamb Ingredients Used in Commercial Pet Foods.” Watson worked as an R&D intern for ZIWI Pets from November 2016 to February 2017, before moving to ANZCO Foods where he served as R&D Technical Assistant from November 2017 to February 2018. Pet nutrition.
Continue reading about our other featured women leaders Women in the Pet Industry Series.