Our discussion with Christine Chambers has been going on for only a little more than 5 minutes when she tells us that she remembers sitting on the steps of a London flat years ago while contemplating life’s many twists and turns.
It seems that the accommodation—which she had only recently acquired and unquestionably counted as a milestone in life—had with little warning come to present a dilemma.
At that time back in 2007, when Chambers was working as a financial analyst inside the UK operations of Seattle, Washington–based RealNetworks, the company suddenly offered her a promotion to work within its US operations arm.
The treasured flat became toast.Read More
“Six weeks later, I was on a plane headed to the U.S.—and I think that this speaks at least a little to my nature of being adaptable and open in terms of welcoming opportunities that have arisen,” comments Chambers, who would first join RealNetworks stateside in its Washington, D.C.–area outpost before receiving an invitation from the company’s CFO in 2010 to relocate to Seattle to join its corporate offices.
Eleven years later, Chambers would be appointed CFO of RealNetworks. Of course, career paths are seldom linear, and indeed Chambers’s CFO appointment at RealNetworks would arrive only after a 3-year stint as an FP&A leader with Rosetta Stone and two more as a planning and budgeting executive at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I have always really leaned into my network for opportunities,” remarks Chambers, as she stops to consider the different doors that she has been able to swing open along the way.
“By learning within my network,” she observes, “I have sought to understand the dynamics within companies and the challenges and opportunities that they bring.”
The power of Chambers’s network was no doubt in play when PetMeds CEO Matt Hulett, a former colleague at Rosetta Stone as well RealNetworks, announced her appointment as PetMeds CFO in August 2022.
Says Chambers: “Matt and I very much understand the dynamics and challenges faced by organizations that have large, addressable markets and may have undervalued assets that need to be turned around. We have seen this both at Rosetta Stone and now at PetMeds.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about PetMeds … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Chambers: It’s important to understand some of the dynamics that are involved here. I think that seven out of 10 households in the U.S. now have a pet. One thing that we’ve seen that has really changed over the past few years—and especially recently—is the humanization of pets. You can see mine in the background here on this call. He’s with me and sits by my feet every day. It’s really about how we’ve seen our pets become part of the family. One investor with whom I spoke recently told me that his pet eats healthier food than he does. So, we’ve seen the nurturing and humanization of pets really becoming more prolific.Read More
At PetMeds, we have a really strong mission—which I love: Every pet deserves to live a long, happy, healthy life. Looking back for a moment, we see that 26 years ago, PetMeds was really the pioneer in delivering e-commerce prescription medications. We’ve really perfected the authorization, the delivery, the regulation compliance, and the customer support needed to efficiently and accurately deliver pet medications to your door.
The difference between PetMeds and other companies in this space is really that PetMeds thinks about being a pharmacy first, a medications resource first, and focuses on pet healthcare—and then thinks about the food and consumables area second. This is unlike some of our competitors, who think about food and consumables first—and then the Rx. We really focus on the mission of healthcare.
This makes us more of a high-friction business because every prescription requires authorization from a vet, in the same way that a doctor today needs to authorize a human medicine. So, we have a highly trained staff, as well as warehousing with the capabilities to safely store and maintain prescription drugs.
We also have this world-class pharmacy and group of pharmacists who provide this experience around pet medications. We have a vet portal that sits inside 25% of the veterinary clinics in the U.S., which makes it easy for vets to take the stress out of this authorization process. We’ve also have recently launched a vet advisory board. I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that we really lean into and take our relationships and collaborations with vets very seriously. This is what differentiates us in this space where pet medications are provided right to your door through an e-commerce platform.