Q & A With Jill Taylor of Purina ONE®

A pet lover herself, Jill Taylor is close to everything that happens at Purina ONE. When she's not helping with this very website, she might be found brainstorming over coffee or chatting with the other employees in the dog park. She sat down to talk about what brought her to the pet industry, and what she's learned since coming on board.

What brought you to work at Purina? 

Obviously, I'm a huge pet lover. It's one of those pure, universal loves. Even if you don't know someone that well, you can usually find some common ground if you talk about your pets. 

So when my husband and I relocated to St. Louis, I drove by the Purina Tower, saw the big Checkerboard, and thought, "That's where I want to work." How lucky would it be to take something I'm so passionate about and build a career around it?"   

What are your experiences with your pets?

Growing up, my family had a dog, but the 2 cats, Tom and Snickers, were my buddies. They would sleep in my bed and always make me laugh by chasing each other all throughout the house. I loved them! 

As I got older, I really connected with dogs. When my husband and I settled into a house, one of the first things I wanted to do was adopt a dog from a shelter. In fact, that was a requirement for our house hunting: we needed a big yard for a dog to run around - and now we have 2 dogs. It works so well with our lifestyle. They keep us active, and they love to go on adventures with us!  And they have been great with our 2 boys. 

Our dogs are Wrigley and Jedi. Wrigley is 9, and we adopted her at a shelter adoption event one Valentine's Day. We were looking for the right dog and just couldn't find one that we connected with.  Then all the sudden, this black bundle of fur came tearing down the aisle.  She had gotten loose and was enjoying a wild run throughout the store. We both looked at her and said, "Yep, that's our dog." We loved her energy. She's named after our favorite stadium. Wrigley is part Basenji, which is an African barkless dog. We'd never heard of the breed, so it's been fun to learn about the breed. She's a mix so she doesn't have all the traits, but she definitely has the trademark basenji yodel - we call it her Chewbacca call.

Three years later, Jedi came home with us. We were Christmas shopping for Wrigley at a pet store, and there was another adoption event. We had no intention of getting another dog, but then we saw this cute little blue heeler/Catahoula mix, and he gave me that look. I convinced my husband that we needed him and won him over by offering to name the dog Jedi if we could adopt him! Jedi was the most loyal dog from the start and has always loved to snuggle up to us at night. And then during the day, he's off and running…or swimming - his favorite. It took Wrigley a few days to warm up to him, but now she and Jedi are best buds. He has been a great addition to our family.

What is your favorite thing about going to work every day?

Every day is a little bit different. I never feel like I'm doing the same thing. There is always something new to learn and inspiration is all around. The people that I get to work with are great - we have a diverse group from all different backgrounds and experiences. I consider many of my coworkers close friends.  

What do you like about the way the environment was designed?

Well of course, I love that we can bring our dogs to work and that we have a fenced in area to let them just be dogs. Also, our floors are set up in an open format, where you can easily talk to your work neighbors or shout something over the wall. Sometimes you just need to bounce an idea off someone, and this environment makes that easy.  

On the second floor we have a very open air innovation space - where you can pull up a chair or a couch and have informal "huddles" with your coworkers. It's a bright, creative space that you want to hang out in. And the free coffee doesn't hurt!   

What is one of your main goals for this year?

We've learned some new things about the true nature of dogs - their lineage, their instincts, and how that serves them in their daily life. But we still have more to learn. That's something I hope to really focus on - getting a better understanding of dogs.  

What's a moment you've had at Purina that has inspired you? What have you learned about pets that you didn't know before?

I get to work with really smart people. Whether I get coaching from a marketing peer or talk to one of our nutritionists, it's hard not to feel inspired by the passion and the level of knowledge that people here have. It does feel like our work is born from a real passion for pets. It has got to be one of the few offices where there are just as many pictures of cats and dogs on peoples' desktops as there are family photos.  

And we learn so much about pets and the amazing things they do - shelter dogs that go on to succeed in an Incredible Dog Challenge or dogs that are service animals. I've learned so much about my own dogs, like how important their sense of smell is.  For example, when we take a dog on a walk, our inclination is to hurry him along and give his leash a tug when he stops and sniffs every blade of grass. But for a dog, it's all about the different smells - that is the excitement for him. Denying him a few sniffs on a walk is like going to the ocean and closing the drapes on the beautiful view. Sometimes you just need to let them take it all in. 

What has Purina ONE done lately that you've been excited about?

Our shelter efforts excite me. Of course, we donate food -  Purina ONE donates over 1 million pounds of food to shelters. But more importantly, we're on a mission to change how people think about shelter pets.  Before joining the team, I had never thought about the negative label that gets put on the dogs and cats that are in shelters. Our family pets and my dogs have always come from shelters, so I just assumed that everyone knew that they make wonderful pets. But that's not the case. Sometimes they mistakenly get labeled as being unfriendly or unsocial simply because they are in a shelter. People assume they have baggage, and this keeps them from being adopted. We've got to change that. If we can get more people to see how great these dogs and cats are, we can really make a difference in adoption rates.  

At Purina, you feel like you have a lot of freedom to think differently about things. Inspiration comes from a variety of people, places, and experiences, and we certainly have a lot of opportunities here to be inspired. And my shameless love of my dogs is a common theme!  

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