KANSAS CITY, MO. — After spending 18 years in various brand management and marketing roles at Colgate-Palmolive, Yvonne Hsu was presented with a new opportunity: leading global marketing efforts for the company’s multinational pet food business, Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Leaping at the prospect of this exciting change, Hsu is now leveraging her consumer goods expertise to improve the lives of pets and the experience of pet ownership worldwide.
In the following Q&A, Hsu shares the top three trends she sees shaping the industry today and recounts her proudest accomplishment so far at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Hsu: Hill’s Pet Nutrition is a 75-year-old company dedicated to providing the highest quality nutrition to help lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets. I have been with Hill’s for five years, leading marketing first for the United States and now for the globe.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?
Hsu: I had the opportunity to join Hill’s Pet Nutrition as part of my Colgate-Palmolive career and jumped at the opportunity to lead a purpose driven brand and be part of the dynamic pet industry. I also serve on the board of the Animal Health Corridor and have learned how important this part of the country is to the global animal health market.
PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?
Hsu: My biggest challenge has been balancing the needs of the pet versus the perceptions of the pet parent. We have a deep understanding of pet nutrition and want to make sure we use this to provide the best options to the pet parent as well as the pet.
PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Hsu: I am most proud of the latest innovation we launched earlier this year, Hill’s Prescription Diet ONC Care, which supports pets going through cancer. We see the differences it can make for pets that are fighting for their lives and that is what I am most proud of.
PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?
Hsu: Top of mind for me is sustainability and how we can bring this mindset into everything we do. We have just launched Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach with sustainable proteins, and we want to bring more innovation to the market that will help drive sustainability.
PFP: If you could pick three trends influencing the industry today, which are the most important and why?
Hsu: One, humanization for how it continues to evolve how pet parents feed their fur babies; two, the veterinary shortage, which is a crisis as vets cannot keep up with demand; and three, sustainability — pressure for the industry to deliver long term solutions that meet pet parent needs.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?
Hsu: The amount of regulation there is in pet food.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Hsu: Do it — it is the most exciting industry that is constantly evolving and will give you endless career opportunities.
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 bit about them.
Hsu: Sorry to cat people, but I definitely fall more into the dog realm. We adopted our pup Max from a shelter in 2019 and he is definitely our fur baby.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Hsu: Get involved — we need more diverse perspectives.
Yvonne Hsu started her career in media planning and held various other roles before joining Colgate-Palmolive in 2000 as associate brand manager. Over the course of 18 years, she honed her skills in several different brand and marketing roles with the company, and in 2018, became director of marketing for its Hill’s Pet Nutrition business. She has since served as vice president of US marketing, vice president of global marketing and innovation, and vice president of global growth and innovation before entering her current role as executive vice president of global growth and innovation. Hsu earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University, followed by a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.
Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.