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Jessica Saldivas

Executive Assistant for Operations at Banfield Pet Hospital

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The Sky is the Limit: Especially If You Can Handle a Bit of a Challenge

09/20/2022 06:00AM | 101 views

“I’m okay with a little bit of a challenge, it keeps me on my toes.”

That’s a quote from Jessica Saldivas, executive assistant for operations for Banfield Pet Hospital, the leading provider of preventive veterinary care in the United States, with 1,000+ hospitals and nearly 20,000 associates in neighborhoods across the country.

In that role, she supports five regional vice presidents, along with the vice president for operations, in Banfield’s western region. She helps keep these leaders organized, and coordinates their events and meetings.

In other words, as she put it: “The work I do is challenging, but so rewarding.”

Challenges like: 

  • Planning a big regional meeting within a short timeframe for 50-60 people – the first in-person gathering after a few years of Covid separation. 

Challenges like: 

  • Dealing with fast-changing Covid guidelines – and, as a result, fast-changing plans for the event location. 

Challenges like: 

  • Working with external vendors to cater the event using the on-site kitchen. 

And, perhaps the biggest hurdle of all: 

  • Doing all of that within the first three weeks of holding that particular job. 

Yet, here’s how she feels about it: “It was amazing opportunity to show the skills I developed in my past career. I had to jump multiple hoops to help coordinate all the event details, and plans kept changing due to Covid, but it turned out fantastic. It’s such a great feeling to know I helped with that.”

How did she gain this comfort with uncertainty and this ability to overcome so many hurdles?

Some early-career experience leading and training others probably helps. But just as important might be her determination.

“One of my leaders told me, ‘The sky is the limit for you, Jessica’ I took that to heart. That’s what makes me work very hard for what I do now in this position. It makes me think about my options for learning and growing within the company. No matter who you are, as long as you work hard, anything is possible.”

“I know I can do this.”

Saldivas spent her first eight years on Texas’ gulf coast, in Corpus Christi. She and her mom moved to Washington state when she was eight, and back and forth between the two states over the years.

“For me, because my mom was a single mother, as a young kid I wanted to help out my family. I had passion to want to do better for myself and my family.”

Today, she has four kids of her own: three teenagers and one aged 20. “I try to teach my kids that anything is possible. You have to be determined and work hard for what you want. No matter how old you get, you always have time to advance your careers.”

Prior to Banfield, she spent nine years as a market training supervisor. In that role, she prepared people for various positions within the company. She onboarded new hires, trained them to do their jobs, instructed them about safety and security, and taught them the company’s policies and procedures.

Each new hire would be with her for about six weeks, so she served as a foundational resource for people, helping them find their way in a new role and a new organization.

She joined Banfield in 2016, first working in custodial services and then the reception area at Banfield headquarters (which they refer to as Central Team Support, or CTS), in Vancouver, Washington. Within a few years, they offered her a position in the mail room. In 2021, she was asked to consider taking on an interim role for executive assistant in operations. By 2022, she had the role permanently.

“I love coordinating and scheduling, especially meetings and events.I didn’t have much experience with that before this role. But working in the mailroom, and being with Banfield for a few years, had given me access to and knowledge of multiple departments. I’m fortunate to work with such a great group of leaders. They’re all very different from each other in the way they work or what they need from me.”

Seizing Every Opportunity

One of the regional vice presidents she supports invited her to join his field leader meeting (a meeting that she herself was coordinating) so she could learn more about what happens in the field. She was able to spend two days with the northwest team to gain more understanding.

“I had just started my position,” she said. “To actually be part of the meeting, and to get to visit hospitals to get a better understanding of the field – that really stood out to me.”

In this role, she has discovered how much she loves planning meetings and events. She’s also discovered that she specializes in being organized and efficient even under pressure.

She said it’s great when you can honestly say to yourself: “I know I can do this.”

She also sees and honors the value of what she’s doing. That big regional event she planned in her first few weeks wasn’t just a meeting. It was the first time most of those long-time colleagues had seen each other in person for two years. It was also the first of what would be several regional gatherings across the country, so it really set the tone for what would come after it.

“That was amazing to get together and have a successful event,” she said.

Saldivas joined Banfield’s Latinx diversity resource group, Unidos, when it launched several years ago. Unidos brings people together to collectively look for ways Banfield can better serve Hispanic clients and associates.

Her advice for anyone is to “just keep working. There’s always opportunity. Growing up Hispanic, you might have that doubt thinking you can’t do something. It’s not true. You’re able to do anything and everything you want to do. The sky is the limit no matter who are.”

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