How a Company Exec Leads with a Love for Animals

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“Animals represent how people should treat one another. They assume the best, they trust, they count on us and they are good communicators. For instance, my horse Tubby can’t even see me when I walk in the barn each morning, but yet he snickers at me right away. We have an instantaneous caring communicative connection,” said Lisa Norton, President and Chief Operating Officer of BioZyme® Inc.

Norton has been passionate about animals as long as she can remember, and her true love is for horses. She started riding lessons with the neighbors across the street, who asked her mother to watch their son/brother and in exchange, they would take Norton with them to riding lessons.

“While my passion and background centers around horses, it is still an animal whether it’s a cow, a sheep, a goat, a pig, a dog or a cat. My passion, love and respect for them is holistic – it isn’t singled out. And I’ve always been like that as long as I can remember. Every animal, squirrel or frog – not snakes as they scare me, I was trying to help it, much to my mom’s dismay,” Norton recalls.

With a passion so keen on helping animals, she even attended college with plans of becoming a veterinarian, her dream job since she was just 4-years-old. After three years majoring in animal science, her first semester of vet school came, and she realized the significant difference between caring for animals and taking care of them. She quickly changed majors and earned her Master’s in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Norton joined the BioZyme team in 2011 as its Director of Marketing. In 2018, she was promoted to President and COO, and she has been leading the company with the philosophy of taking care of every animal, every day with care that comes full circle.

Although not “professionally trained” in the world of animal science, Norton uses her passion and commitment to animals along with her background in academia – she taught at Missouri Western State University for 14 years – to lead the vision at BioZyme. She works tirelessly to find ways to make sure animals have the best lives possible, while performing the best for their owners, bringing that care full circle. And she works to make sure her employees share that same vision every day.

“We tend to do what we’ve always done, but we need to challenge ourselves on finding a better way,” Norton said. “We treat every calf in the feedlot the same, but they are not the same. We have the same challenges in the show ring or with a horse that needs to go over the jump or do fancy dressage moves or a dog that is setting there to keep its owner company. We have to think of them as individuals. Can we figure out products that are precisely delivered when animals need them and make those products affordable and economical?”

“I am immediately connected to them (livestock) and have tried to understand the industry and still think compassionately about how we can help livestock do their job, which is very clear – feed us – while still having compassion and commitment to do what is best for them” she said.

Norton is constantly studying ways to make improvements. She works with researchers and others on her team to make sure the products they produce and market are meeting producers’ goals and fit the needs of the industry. She is a mentor for those in the company and leads by example. She credits her own mom for instilling leadership qualities and setting examples for her at an early age.

Although a school teacher by training, Norton’s mom stayed at home to raise Norton and her brothers. However, she was very involved in the community and served as president of about every board in town from the University to the health care system to United Way. It might not have seemed impactful to a child at the time, but Norton said her Mom’s actions definitely impacted her later in life.

“My mom was a huge influence in my life and was an amazing leader. She was always striving to do more for people so that’s all I know. She was forward thinking, and her expectation in a very loving way was to challenge people to do the best for the most people. Usually we aren’t doing that; we are doing the best for ourselves,” Norton said.

She said another valuable lesson she learned from her mom is to focus on the positive. And when she focuses on the what’s possible as opposed to what’s not, she can see ways to improve and help animals more, which in turn helps the company grow, which in turn helps people, both customers and employees.

“I really do care about the animal, whether it’s a chicken that is only going to live for 35 days or a dog that we are hoping lives for 18 years. I’m hoping I am dedicated and capable enough to humbly lead our company and the talent we have in it, along with its expertise and research capacity to do everything we can to create care for them that comes full circle. I pray for God’s help on this every day.”

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