Leading Women – Katherine O’Brien

Katherine O’Brien, DVM
Maricamp Animal Hospital

Veterinarian Katherine O’Brien built her “purposely-driven” business on her innate love for animals, stemming from childhood, and through honesty, ethics and passion. She and her staff are committed to a positive culture that leads to delivering more than their clients expect and also in the belief that educating people is paramount in being able to help pets. She believes people must take personal responsibility in order to succeed and that to grow into an industry or community leader, you must first find what “feeds your soul.” And, she offers, “dream big,” then times that by 10 and combine a good work ethic with your passion.

What was the catalyst that led you to this industry?
When I was a very young girl, I had this natural connection and overwhelming compassion for animals. I would create a bond with each animal I would come in contact with, whether it be the armadillo that lived deep in the woods behind my house, the birds in the sky or my very own pet. I always felt we had a special connection and understanding and I knew I was meant to be their protectors. I followed my passion and had clear intention throughout my career to do whatever it takes to advocate for all animals no matter the circumstance.

What are the biggest challenges facing your industry, and how are you overcoming the hurdles?
Honestly the biggest challenge is realizing I cannot give my services away for free. When your entire purpose is to serve animals and to help them, the last thing you want to think about or want to confront is the money and business aspect. In order to overcome this hurdle, my staff and I continuously find ways to help people so we can still help their pet and it does not break the bank. I have taken on this huge responsibility of wanting to help every single pet in Marion County, but also support my employees and give back to my community as a thank you for trusting us to be the experts. I know I can do all of this and more! One way we are able to accomplish this is by supporting a local nonprofit, Saving Paws and Hooves in Central Florida. They help pets in emergency situations when there are limited finances. It is open to all veterinarians to help their patients and we are blessed to have them provide grants to our patients on many occasions.

Who are your role models and mentors?
I am truly blessed to have my parents as role models. They have instilled in me the core belief that if you are honest and ethical at all times and take full responsibility for your actions, then you will never have problems, you will only be able to create solutions. But then of course there is Ellen DeGeneres and Grant Cardone at the top of my list. They are completely different personalities. Ellen is a strong woman who has a happy soul and is beyond generous of her time and money. Grant’s 10X program it is all about knowing your purpose, educating owners and getting agreements that are real and true so everyone is on the same page. There are many individuals in the community who pour their heart and soul into the betterment of others and they are constantly inspiring me. Most of them are church leaders who never judge people and only want the person to be their absolute best, such as Tim Gilligan and Angela Garcia.

What causes are close to your heart, and how do you hope to advance those causes through your contribution?
Outside of the animal world, advocating for a drug-free world while teaching children how to be good humans are my most passionate areas. I am part of a program that gives resources to people in the community about the truth about drugs in order to free humanity from the harmful effects. Visit www.drugfreeworld.org to learn more. I also work with a program that helps protect our children in the community by providing a compassionate response to trauma from abuse and neglect in a safe and friendly environment. Visit www.kimberlyscenter.org to learn more.

What advice would you offer anyone who aspires to become a leader in their industry or community through service?
Find out what feeds your soul. The desire and dedication must come from within yourself. Once you find the area in which you can help, then you must get involved in the CEP (Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership). Visit www.ocalacep.com to learn more. This chamber is like no other. They are all so committed to the success of our community and give open arms to all who want to participate and learn and grow as an individual and also a business.

Do you have a mantra?
I have always admired my husband, Alberto Rullan, for his endless endurance and desire to never give up on one of his equine patients. He has this saying, “I don’t work, I love what I do and have the best hobby in the world.” As long as you have passion and purpose while keeping your ethics, you will succeed every time.

The best leaders lead by example, so what do you hope your example encourages others to emulate?
I would be so honored and humbled if anyone was inspired to be a better human and pet owner; to treat people and pets better than they treat you. We have a philosophy at Maricamp Animal Hospital that our purpose as a company and as individuals is to help others and to provide an exchange that is above and beyond what the client expects us to deliver. This goes for life as well. If we can all give more than what is expected to other people and our pets, then this world can continue to grow in a positive direction.

What is your favorite part of living in this community?
I love the people! I grew up in Louisiana, where southern hospitality is the way of life. I find that the people here in Ocala are just as gracious and kind. I can go to a business meeting with open arms and give huge hugs with no judgment or considerations but then also walk up to a random person who has inspired me through social media and they welcome me into their world. It is important in a community to be able to reach out, contact those who can help you, and help others without reservation. I am proud to raise my children in this community.

Contact Dr. Katherine O’Brien at Maricamp Animal Hospital, 4485 SE 53rd Ave., Ocala; (352) 624-0300; or www.maricampanimalhospital.com.

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