Lifelong Learning with Stacey Shirra


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Whether it’s a new country or a new industry, Stacey Shirra craves the opportunity to learn new things.

1. Your post with Covetrus is a newly created one. Can you explain the role of a talent management executive?

Shirra: Easily put, it’s about finding out what the company needs when it comes to people and making sure we get the right people. Then when we get the right people, making sure that we keep them. You can get complicated and technical, but generally speaking, that’s it.

2. How do you personally continue to develop and educate yourself?

Shirra: When I moved from sunny Scotland to Tokyo, without learning Japanese, it got me into a completely different culture, so I was forced to learn. I made assumptions that we were similar, and that isn’t the case, and it’s fascinating to me how people approach things in different countries with their beliefs, values, and the way they show up in the world.

I started to really get into lifelong learning when I moved to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, they also spoke English, so it was easier to get around. I started in night school taking classes. I was working on a certificate, and I was one of the oldest people in the class, but that also had learning potential. I was learning something that I could do on the job, and I was learning about the culture from the locals. That’s really been a theme for every country I’ve lived in. I have been blessed to meet some wonderful folks, many of whom I am still in close contact with.

When I came to the United States, I would go to comedy clubs to try and learn the humor because you all have different humor over here. So, I would try and understand, OK, this is what it’s like. This is what people think is funny.

In terms of education. I’m always looking at what’s the latest, and is it a fad or actually helpful? I deeply believe in self-development and spend a lot of money on my own personal development every year. There are a lot of fads out there. I like to go and lay them out and see, do I like it? Do I not? Do I think we can use it?

3. What interested you about making the jump to animal health?

Shirra: Well, for one, I have five cats, so maybe I already had some built-in Covetrus values. I grew up in Scotland, and we lived next to a farm. We always had lots of stray and rescue animals, so animals are just near and dear to my heart.

I loved working at Apple, but getting to work with a company like Covetrus, with brilliant people, to do the work I love for a cause that’s greater than myself, why would you pass up an opportunity like that?

Meet the leader

Stacey M.M. Shirra is vice president of global talent management at Covetrus. Shirra is responsible for Covetrus’ global talent strategy, including building a strong talent bench across the organization. She joins Covetrus from Apple, where she served in their Global Talent Management & Organizational Readiness group. Shirra has lived and worked in the UK, Asia, and most recently in Silicon Valley.