April 15, 2016


 Q&A with Adrian Hochstadt

Posted March 30, 2016 

Adrian Hochstadt, incoming deputy chief executive officer of the AVMA, answers questions from JAVMA News. Go to “Old, new deputy CEO see AVMA moving profession forward” for the main story. 

What is bringing you back to the AVMA? 

I am coming back to make a positive impact at a high level for a profession that’s made up of remarkable individuals who provide essential services and bring joy to people and animals alike. I look forward to playing a key role in operationalizing the strategic plan into real-world deliverables, making it come alive, so to speak. This is an exciting time at the AVMA, and I am thrilled to be in a position to help shape AVMA’s future, which I believe includes unparalleled opportunity for everyone involved in veterinary medicine.  

As deputy CEO, I hope to be a motivating influence, a promoter of teamwork and innovation, and a positive contributor to the growth and development of every employee working at AVMA.  

I have had the privilege of serving in management positions with five different national and international associations of various structures and sizes over 27 years. I have gained a lot of leadership insight by working with industry leaders in law, human medicine, and, of course, veterinary medicine. I plan to draw upon this experience in my new position.

What were your proudest accomplishments at the AVMA?

I was hired in 2005 to help the AVMA create a state advocacy program. We turned a fairly vague notion into the reality of a proactive center that provides real value to the profession and its state and allied leadership. These efforts also helped solidify AVMA’s relationships with state and allied VMAs, which I will continue to nurture in my role as deputy CEO. Many of our colleagues who manage and lead VMAs are some of the best in the association business, and I value their support and advice.

In a more general sense, I am pleased that I was able to leverage productive relationships to help create consensus and forge common paths in several challenging instances. I enjoyed meaningful interaction with people in a variety of roles across the veterinary world, including all levels of AVMA staff, volunteer leaders and committee members, veterinarians and nonveterinarians, association executives, and lawyers. This wide exposure to and familiarity with AVMA members and stakeholders will serve me well as deputy CEO.

How will your new position have you refocusing your expertise from the way you used it in your last position at the AVMA?

I expect to be working closely with the CEO, Board of Directors, and others in looking at the big picture to implement the vision and strategic plan of the AVMA. In addition to overseeing programs, as deputy CEO, one of my highest priorities will be supporting, coaching, and mentoring AVMA staff. I plan to manage my responsibilities and time so I can be a resource who is available to other staff. Employees can expect me to pay attention to individuals as part of my daily routine.

How has the AVMA changed since you started in 2005?

The world looks to AVMA to lead in areas such as animal welfare, public health, and veterinary economics. We are expected to provide real-time and meaningful assistance to state VMAs engaged in difficult, controversial battles. The rate of change in both society overall and veterinary medicine in particular has accelerated greatly over the last decade, and it will continue to do so at an even faster pace in the next 10 years. To maintain and increase our relevancy, the AVMA will need to actively embrace a heightened culture of innovation and creativity for both staff and volunteer leadership. Fortunately, I believe the AVMA is more prepared than ever to take on this challenge.

What do you think is next for the AVMA?

The AVMA is and will continue to be the recognized voice of the profession, speaking to key constituencies on the issues that matter. This includes setting standards for quality of veterinary education, shaping laws and regulations that govern the profession and animal welfare, representing the profession’s views to the media, educating the public on animal health, and providing assistance and guidance to our own members.

The current AVMA Strategic Operating Plan refers to building an innovative and collaborative culture and establishing and maintaining efficient decision-making. These goals are right on the mark to ensure the AVMA’s leadership and relevancy in tomorrow’s fast-changing environment. Achieving these goals will demand that staff and volunteers focus on working smart and spending their time and energy in ways that bring maximum value to members and the people and animals they serve.

I just read Richard Branson’s quote in the AVMA’s Animal Health SmartBrief: “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” That is how I envision the workplace of the future for AVMA.

I also expect that increasingly, we will be challenged to achieve the right balance between appropriate analysis of issues and taking actions that are expected of a leader. Futurist Jim Carroll says, “The world won’t wait for you to make a decision—it will simply move on.” To maintain our leadership position, we must make sure we have processes and a culture in place to keep up with the expected pace of future decision-making.

Finally, let me say that I am an unabashed optimist on the future of veterinary medicine. I see tremendous untapped potential for this profession, and  I am confident that together, AVMA and its partners will lead the way to an exciting and prosperous future.