By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pamela Stoops believes in taking advantage of opportunities — and in creating opportunities to take advantage of.
Stoops has been the site leader for Zoetis in Charles City for a little more than a year. She says that job title is descriptive of what she does.
“From my view, to a certain extent it is more leading. Because it’s not managing, it’s not directing. I mean, you have some of those elements, but really the big part about it is the leading. Leading the people — that’s what makes our business, the people.”
People are a common element when talking about her career and the decisions that have led her to Charles City, whether it’s the mentors who have helped guide her, the people she works with at Zoetis or what she calls the welcoming community in which she now lives.
Growing up just outside of St. Louis, she was the fourth of five children, raised in a family that valued education.
“They really supported us, did anything they could to enable us to go to college, and that was very important to them,” she said of her parents.
Stoops received her bachelor’s degree in 1997 in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, now known as the University of Missouri of Science and Technology.
She said she chose chemical engineering because she had always been interested in science, and chemical engineering seemed like the sort of field that would have a lot of opportunities.
“I could do a lot of things with chemical engineering — it had a lot of doors that would be open to me and I liked having that possibility,” she said.
“My favorite quote, or one of my favorite quotes, is, ‘Chance favors the prepared mind,’ and there are a bunch of different variations on that, but ‘Chance favors the prepared’ — I shortened it down to that.
“I think that that’s really a big part of my story. I’ve always been open to opportunity, like from the beginning of choosing which degree to go into,” she said.
During college she did an internship with a pharmaceutical company, “and I loved it,” she said.
She has been in the pharmaceutical and biologicals industry ever since, starting as an engineer with Bayer Corp. in Kansas City, then moving into operational excellence (continuous quality improvement) and then into the management side.
She was the site leader for Teva Pharmaceuticals in Irvine, California, when a recruiter called her about an opportunity with Zoetis in the Midwest.
She said she was excited about getting back to the area to be closer to her family.
She is married to husband Mikel (pronounced Michael), who runs a bed and breakfast they own in Baldwin City, Kansas.
Mikel, who also has an engineering background, stayed behind with his three children to run the business when Stoops moved to California.
“That’s something that I think a lot of people don’t quite understand,” Stoops said. “You know, it’s more and more prevalent, I think, that people are doing that, that people are working away from where their spouses are.
“We decided to do it because of an opportunity I had, and he stayed in Kansas City because of the children, which is very important to both of us. And so we have been trying to migrate to get closer, and now we’re in the same time zone. And within driving distance.”
The children are all grown now, and there are two grandchildren.
“We’ve been seeing each other more and more, which is a good thing,” she said about Mikel. “I get a lot of windshield time. He gets even more — he does a lot of the driving,” she said.
The recruiter’s call also interested her because it was Zoetis, she said.
Having worked in the industry all her professional career, she was familiar with Zoetis and what the company was doing and what it stood for, Stoops said.
The Charles City Zoetis site is part of a worldwide corporation with headquarters in New Jersey, that bills itself as the world’s largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock. The company employs about 400 people at its Charles City site and is in the middle of another large facilities expansion here.
“I look at the core beliefs that Zoetis has and they live those. That was a good fit for me, looking at their core beliefs, looking at their culture,” Stoops said.
One aspect of that culture is the representation of women throughout the corporation. Although the company CEO is a man, four out of the eight executive vice presidents on the executive team are women.
“You look at that and that speaks volumes,” Stoops said.
She emphasized that she never wants to be picked for a job just because she is a woman, but appreciates working for a company that is open to picking the best people for the jobs, regardless of gender.
She notes with pride that Zoetis has for the last five years been named to Working Mother magazine’s list of the 100 best companies for working mothers.
“There are a lot of reasons we are on that list,” she said.
Stoops said she knew right away that Charles City would be a good fit for her.
“When I drove in here — and I don’t know how to explain this because it seems really weird — but when I interviewed here it was somewhat of a whirlwind interview as far as an on-site visit. … But when I was driving here I felt peaceful. And that’s probably a strange thing to say, but it felt peaceful.
“It felt right. It felt good. And I would say that that’s still the case,” said Stoops, who is now a member of Rotary Club, a new member on the Charles City Chamber of Commerce board of directors and who has discovered the joys of kayaking.
“I have a lot of passion for what I do, and I have a lot of passion for this site. I want the site to continue its path to excellence, its path to being amazing,” she said.
“I am lucky and happy that we have tremendous people here, we really do. And so it’s leading that, looking forward, helping people find the way. I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it, but. … to me it is a good company. That was a big lure for me to come here. The company, its values, its beliefs,” she said.
“It’s what we do, what we’re doing for the world with our products, serving the entire world. We’re helping secure the food supply. We’re helping keep pets healthy.”
Also, she said, “It’s fun.”
Truth be told, Stoops says, she’s probably advanced further in her career than she thought she would have at this point in her life.
“When I saw opportunity or when I was offered opportunity I would take it and make the most of it,” she said. “I learned a lot, maybe not always successful the first time, right, but not being afraid to take that chance and grow with it.”
And not only recognizing and accepting opportunities, but positioning herself to make opportunities available.
“I recognize the bit of randomness and to a certain extent being in the right place at the right time, although you can influence that by the risk you take and being prepared to take it,” she said.
“There’s opportunity all over the place, but if you’re not ready for it, if you haven’t done the work for it, or if you’re not willing to take the risk then you’re not going to get it. I’ve done that a few times in my career where I’ve done things outside of my comfort zone to be prepared, and then to take an opportunity to have more opportunity,” she said.
Including the opportunity to be the site leader at Zoetis in Charles City.
“I like this area. I really do,” Stoops said. “We bought a house. My husband loves it up here. And I’m really happy to be here.”