Work Practice Leads to Managing Director’s Chair

When Ashley Wilkie started a week of work experience at an Angus veterinary practice, she could not have believed one day she would be its managing director.

Ashley had a placement at Thrums Vets when she was a fourth year at Webster’s High School in Kirriemuir in 1995.

She was then offered a Saturday job at the Kirriemuir practice.  She cleaned the wards, assisted with preparations and restocking, carried out some basic patient care – and loved every minute.

Ashley said: “Growing up we had horses, dogs and rabbits and I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with animals.”

Two years later, after completing her Highers, Ashley had a veterinary placement at Thrums.

She combined practical experience at gained a qualification at Telford College – now Edinburgh College.

Ashley qualified as a registered veterinary nurse in 2000 and when the Kirriemuir practice moved to purpose-built premises in 2002, became the live-in nurse.

In 2006 she was promoted to head nurse, with an integral role in growing the nursing team as Thrums opened new practices in Blairgowrie, Forfar and Scone.

More recently Thrums introduced several new job roles, as well as senior registered veterinary nurse roles, which saw Ashley become an associate managing director.

She said: “I never dreamed I would have progressed so far at the practice, but it’s been a hugely rewarding career.

“To go from kennel girl to associate managing director is something I feel very proud of.”

Ashley has enjoyed the varied work in mixed practice, covering pets, farm animals and equine.

She spoke up to highlight Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, which highlights career routes for veterinary nurses.

Ashley said: “Today we have 13 veterinary nurses across the group and everyone is hardworking, respectful and friendly.

“It’s very rewarding to see members of the team become lead nurses in our practices and I’ve always enjoyed helping them find their areas of excellence, as well as being a mentor.

“I hope my career path shows what other veterinary nurses can achieve if they are ambitious and work for a forward-thinking and supportive employer.”

Thrums – Scotland’s largest independent veterinary group – was founded in Kirriemuir in 1948 and has practices in Kirrie, Forfar, Blairgowrie and Scone.

Ashley says key qualities she looks for in leadership are sincerity, trustworthiness and a caring attitude – both to patients and the team.

She added: “I never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t get involved in myself, which keeps everyone engaged and is hopefully encouraging too.”

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