Leading AO VET on a great mission

Carl Kirker-Head outlines objectives going into second AO VET IB leadership term.

03 February 2018

When Dr. Carl Kirker-Head took the reins as Chair of the AO VET International Board (IB) in July 2015, AO VET was at a crossroads, with its future direction unclear. Reelected to a second 3-year term which begins in July 2018, he says AO VET today is in a substantially more robust position, but much work still lies ahead to ensure AO VET’s long-term sustainability.

Carl Kirker-Head

“We are in many ways a different entity, retaining our core mission and spirit but necessarily reinventing how we consistently yet affordably achieve our goals,” said Kirker-Head, adding that AO VET’s strategy is now well defined, a global business plan of depth and complexity has been rolled out, and 2017 data reflects AO VET’s fiscal viability.

Under Kirker-Head’s leadership during his first term, AO VET increased the number of courses and individuals taught worldwide, introduced new curricula representing best practice and better meeting the needs of its regions; expanded its faculty training; enhanced its digital presence; and increased its membership—all the while reconfiguring its R&D mission to build relevance across the AO Foundation community and more effectively engage veterinary professionals. Those achievements represent the hard work, determination, goodwill and spirit of AO VET officers, faculty and members, he said.

Allied objectives build on one another

While continuing to work toward fulfilling uncompleted 2014 goals—including building AO VET’s female base and engaging the pet-owning public to philanthropically support AO VET’s mission and vision goals — Kirker-Head said his major focus must be AO VET’s continued sustainability and growth as the pre-eminent veterinary orthopedic educator. For his second term of AO VET IB leadership, he has outlined four allied objectives that build on one another:

  • Embed AO VET Terms of Reference (i.e. byelaws and guidelines) and succession planning policies to ensure good governance, guidance and opportunities for faculty and officer advancement, stable leadership transfer, and continued engagement of the clinical division’s most senior faculty after officership.
  • Appropriately reward members for exceptional service to AO VET by implementing a remuneration program. Dr. Kirker-Head expects AO VET’s remuneration policy to be practical, compliant, affordable and equitable.
  • Build AO VET’s sustainable presence in emerging markets by leveraging opportunities—such as those regions’ increased spending on pet care. And by introducing additional and larger educational events that train more people, involve more junior faculty and increase course profitability. In 2017, AO VET’s new business plan and partners were trialed in seven countries. The complex rollout continues and as processes are cemented and longer-term partnerships are formalized, Kirker-Head pledges the International Board’s focus and leadership.
  • Enhance connectivity between regions by more effectively leveraging the experiences and strengths of one region to the benefit of other regions. Kirker-Head plans to build on AO VET members’ common interests and experiences, centralize more executive processes where it makes sense, and yet promote regional autonomy where it bests serves members’ needs. 

“I have had the privilege to lead AO VET these last two and a half years through a complex reorganization to ensure our long-term survival,” he said. “It is clear that there is still much to do and I am grateful for the opportunity to help contribute guidance, encouragement, pragmatism and inspiration to the process.”

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