Ellen is a member of the WSAVA Executive Board. Of Dutch nationality, she’s a veterinarian in Ecuador and runs a clinic in partnership with her husband, also a veterinarian. She is the WSAVA’s Treasurer and also heavily involved with WSAVA CE worldwide.
Could you summarize your career to date?
I knew I wanted to be a vet from when I was seven years old and graduated from Ghent University, in Belgium, in 2000. I did a year’s volunteer work working with wildlife around the world and, during this trip, decided to settle in Quito, Ecuador. I worked as a small animal veterinarian in clinics from 2001 to 2003 before setting up a clinic with my veterinarian husband, Dr Germán Fierro. Our clinic has grown over the years and has recently been remodelled. We have four vets and three assistants. Somehow, I have also found time to study accounting and auditing and, in 2016, I achieved my degree as an Engineer in Accounting and Auditing from the Ecuadorian Universidad Particular de Loja.
What is your ‘day job’?
I am responsible for the management and administration of our clinic and am also a general practitioner. Sometimes it is a difficult balancing act!
When did you first get involved with the WSAVA?
My first involvement with WSAVA was as the Ecuadorian Assembly Representative and translator for courses given by English speakers. My first WSAVA congress was in Geneva, a journey I was able to combine with visits to family, as my association, like many others, was unable to pay the travel costs involved in attending congress. At this congress, mentored by Dr Peter Ihrke, whom I knew from a CE course in Ecuador, I realized what the WSAVA actually stood for and became more actively involved.
What is your current role?
I am the Treasurer of the WSAVA, which means I am responsible for authorizing payments on a day to day basis and also for proposing financial strategy and budgets for centrally organized events. I work with June Ingwersen, our Financial Officer, and have the support of Professor Michael Day, whom, we hope will take over my role at the end of this year. I am also the liaison WSAVA CE program in Latin America so assist Zoe Belshaw, our CE chair, in her job of getting CE organized and funded around the world.
What do you enjoy most and what is most challenging?
What I enjoy most is knowing that we are all part of a big family of veterinarians, working towards the common goal of getting better care, worldwide, for all pets. I enjoy being in touch with people from around the world. With so many different languages, cultural backgrounds and a reliance on volunteers, effective communication is what I find most challenging.
What WSAVA initiatives are you most closely involved with?
Apart from CE, I am closely involved in the One Care initiative, which precisely addresses the problem of communication and paves the way for the WSAVA and its members to work from the ground up instead of from the top down. I am also closely involved in developing our new sponsorship model, which we feel will make the WSAVA more financially robust and will keep our partners better informed and equipped with tangible benefits to demonstrate the value of their involvement with us.
What do you do when you are not working?
When I´m not working? Does this ever happen? I enjoy cooking, reading and travelling.
What is your message to WSAVA members?
My message to WSAVA members for 2018 is simple. We want to create an association that puts its members first. For us to succeed, we need our members to be involved, active and enthusiastic. If you have any ideas, suggestions or other feedback, please speak up. We are here to listen and act upon the wishes of our members!