We invite you to take a peek into part of what makes the Uncharted Veterinary Community so unique: our members! We sat down to interview some of the amazing people who have joined us on our amazing journey since the first conference in 2017. This week, the spotlight is on Senani Ratnayake, winner of the 2020 Uncharted Founder's Award, founder of Motivatum Consulting and Canadian Registered Vet Tech extraordinaire! Enjoy!
For anyone who doesn’t know you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a passionate advocate for all things vet med, a proud RVT, and a lover of animals since childhood. I always wanted a dog, and when my parents finally caved and got me a bunny, they could never have known they were setting in motion a series of events that would define my career path.
I am proud to have been a President of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians and was also the first non-DVM President of the Toronto Academy of Veterinary Medicine. I am nerdy when it comes to anything veterinary or communication-related and my interest in psychology has meant that I actually find humans as fascinating as I do animals (albeit for different reasons)!
My career has given me an incredible breadth of knowledge and experience. I have worked on the floor, in management, running a dermatology referral service, in veterinary sales, as a media spokesperson, as a consultant, and as the Director of Learning and Engagement for a group of hospitals.
I love consulting, coaching, and speaking; I believe my calling is to make veterinary medicine a desirable place to work by supporting the needs of the people who make the magic happen! I live in Waterdown, Ontario (Go Canada!) with Brendan, my best friend, and husband, who I met at an improv drop-in class! We have 2 dogs (Eleanor and Elsa), a cat (Benjamin), and a bunny (Elizabeth). Together, they are my world and my happy place is wherever they are.
What were you looking for when you joined Uncharted?
My honest answer is that I didn't know. I joined, like many of the founders, because I had promised I would. Andy told me he had an idea to have this innovative conference and asked whether, if he were to bring it to fruition, I would come. Of course I said yes and, when the dates were announced I took the leap. I was curious but had no real expectations. I have since made incredible connections and broadened my network with some of the best people in veterinary medicine. I could never have imagined what an impact it would have on me – both professionally and personally.
What are your 2 favorite groups in the Uncharted Workplace community and why?
The Vetmed Pet Parents group reminds me that I am completely normal in my obsession of my own furries and their antics. I remember getting my pet's photos with Father Christmas and immediately wanting to share them there because I know that group would just “get it!” I may not have human children, but I am very proud to be a fur-mom and that group celebrates the human-animal bond in the best way.
The other group would have to be Canadian Regional Harbour because – Canada! I love that the Canadians have their own group to share, brainstorm, support, and collaborate. Our weekly apology thread is a popular spot (just kidding!) and we feel the love constantly as the non-Canadians try to sneak into our private group… SORRY (not sorry)!
Can I add a third? Well, I'm going to. Every time a conference is coming up there is a group for the registered attendees. I love that group. It builds excitement and anticipation and makes you feel like you are truly a part of something before you have even arrived. It's a tribe within the tribe and I cannot imagine being on the outside of that group!
Who is one of your favorite people you’ve met through Uncharted and why?
Cyndie Courtney. Hands down one of the most authentic people I've ever met. Her scientific mind and self-awareness are inspiring and her drive to better the people of veterinary medicine resonates with me on a very deep level. When I first met her I was truly intimidated by her wealth of knowledge, after all… she is the Jerk Researcher. But soon we were fast friends and I realized that she was as big a fan of me as I was of her! She has become a good friend and has helped me through some incredibly trying times. I will always value her friendship and am so grateful to have met somebody who I know is going to help take veterinary medicine to another level.
What is your current work related goal?
I originally founded my company, Motivatum Consulting, 11+ years ago but in the last few weeks have left the safety of my full time job to pursue independent consulting and coaching. I truly believe that you do Build Momentum Through Motivation (and I believe that being demotivated creates momentum too – yikes!).
I want to inspire people, helping them to discover the skills within them and supporting them as they develop tools for personal growth. I want to inspire teams so that together, they can work collaboratively and leave each workday feeling proud of the work they have accomplished.
Through conversations during the 2020 UVVC, it became obvious that I will need to find “my people” if I want to be successful. In the same way, I coach practice owners to understand their Brand and appreciate that not every pet owner is necessarily going to be a good “fit” for their practice, not every vet med professional is going to be a good fit for my services either. I believe that People are critical. I believe that without a good culture, a supportive team, empathy, accountability, and gratitude, you cannot provide the best that veterinary medicine has to offer. Not everybody will agree with me – and that's okay. They are not my people. But I am going to find my people so that I can support their goals and assist them in being the most successful they can be.
What is your favorite hobby and how did you discover it? Would you recommend it to others?
Nail art. Yep, it's true! I'm a girly girl but definitely not a high maintenance one. That said, I started painting my nails because I have had a habit of biting my nails for as long as I can remember and I found that painting them meant I didn't bite them as much (because hey – I worked hard on them!). In the last few years I discovered nail art. It was a strange hobby to pick up as I'm actually not very visually artistic. I love the arts – but drama and music were always my thing. I can barely draw let alone paint tiny designs! That said, I started watching videos and creating patterns – making dots and lines with a toothpick at first! From there it's turned into an all out hobby. Not only does it help me keep a nasty habit under control, but it's truly self-care for me. I tune out the world, pick my colours and focus. I'm most proud of my Christmas nails and Star Wars nails (galaxies and R2-D2). It's a small thing, and I may not be the best at it, but it's a wonderful way to escape from reality for a little while. The best part is, if you screw up, you can just wipe it clean and start again! I would definitely recommend it to others.
What is one thing you believe all veterinary professionals can do right now to make Vet Med even better?
Don't ignore the positives. We are so good at noticing our failures. The things that didn't go the way we wanted – even if the overall outcome was positive! We are really hard on ourselves and at the end of the day, we are often so focused on the things that went badly, we forget that there were many things that went well.
Why is it that we spend so much time angry at the people who don't vaccinate their pets, whose pets are ill with a preventable disease, or who have let their pet's vaccines lapse for years and only come in when there is a “problem”… BUT… we cannot celebrate all of the clients who come in without any problem, do their vaccines on time, agree to do the blood work we recommend or buy the food we want to send them home with and say nothing as they tap their card except to wish us well. Why are we not celebrating these amazing clients who love their pets and quietly – every day – do right by them?
If we could celebrate the positives, the preventive care, the wellness blood work, the person who came in after their pet vomited once (and not after 7 weeks of vomiting when now it's “an emergency” because there is blood), in the same way we dwell on the negatives, we would find greater joy in our work – and find greater peace at the end of each day knowing that we have truly made a difference.
Tell us a story of how another Uncharted Member has helped you.
So, let’s talk about how the Uncharted MEMBERS helped me. In my own way, I make every effort to be supportive, generous, helpful and kind. It won’t be an in-your-face approach, it will usually be in a more intimate setting, a quieter conversation in a private corner with just a few people, but I always try to contribute positively in any interaction that I have.
I am an introvert, through and through. It’s ironic because people see me on a stage or in my element coaching and talking passionately about veterinary medicine, and they assume I am an outgoing extrovert but the reality is, while I thrive in professional situations, social ones can paralyze me in self-analysis! I worry about which table to sit at because – what if they don't want to sit with me?
I worry about whether to make a joke because – what if they don't think it's that funny?! I have a hard time initiating a conversation even though I'm dying to talk to people and I hope that somebody will “pick me” so that I don't have to re-live terrible childhood memories of gym class.
Going to the conference was out of my comfort zone but, as I’ve said many times before, it is a very safe place for introverts and I’ve made so many friends. That said, it was still a huge surprise to find out that I was receiving the 2020 Founder's Award. To be chosen by my peers and to realize that my silly jokes, awkward presence, quirks, and quiet moments were enough. To realize that my advice, my knowledge, my ability to listen – REALLY listen, to support, to be empathetic, and to share my stories and experiences made an impact profound enough to be deserving of the coveted award.
Receiving the Founder's Award was a reminder to me that I am enough. That you don't have to be the most outgoing to be noticed and have a big impact. It came at a time when I needed that reminder, and in a very special way, that is how the Uncharted Members helped me.
You can join the Uncharted community and meet people like Senani by visiting www.UnchartedVet.com and registering to become a member!