With precision and empathy, the Client Care Specialists of PetRelocation carry out a long list of important tasks relating to our clients' relocations. From the early move phases to the happy reunion, our planning and logistics experts oversee the essential elements of a pet's move to ensure that all goes as smoothly as possible.
Mandy is one of our most experienced Client Care Specialists, and in her years at the company she has helped hundreds of pets complete their journeys to locations all over the world.
Read on to find out more about Mandy's own journey as a pet shipper and valued member of the PetRelocation team!
What attracted you to PetRelocation initially?
I love animals and logistics, so this seemed like a natural fit.
What was your interview experience like?
In retrospect, I wonder how the 3-person panel took me seriously. It was really hot out that day and I didn’t notice the large sweat stains in my armpits. I vividly remember sitting with my hands clasped behind my head talking about something, totally unaware of the sweat stains. Apparently that didn’t deter them from me!
What’s the best memory you have from your first year working here?
The people! The staff at PetRelocation are amazing and there are countless moments that stand out.
What has been your favorite story to tell others about day to day life at PetRelocation?
People are very interested in what I do. They love hearing about how we reunite pets with their families. On a day to day basis, I really enjoy the flexibility to work in the office and to work from home. Breaking up the work week keeps it fresh, allows me to avoid traffic for a couple of days, and provides balance in my work life.
Our office culture is very relaxed and full of good people. I really enjoy telling people about that because most work environments are not as progressive as ours, nor do they strive for a culture of awesomeness (we’re more than just smart people). When my friend Suzy was here, she kept saying over and over how nice everyone was at PetRelo. She could not get over the kindness and how welcomed she felt. I think that goes toward the kind of people PetRelocation hires. I’ve made some of my best friends here (some even came to my wedding in Mexico). I think that is something that many other people envy and wish they had at their place of employment.
You joined PetRelocation with global experience under your belt from working with in the private jet industry and from managing an academic program connected to Franklin Pierce University. Can you share a little of what you did as a Walk in Europe program leader?
As Walk Leader, I took a group of roughly 20 college students on a 1,200 mile walk over 3 months through parts of Europe. I participated on my first walk as an undergraduate and was an assistant leader two years later. From there, I was promoted to program leader for the 2005 and 2006 Walks. I was the youngest program leader and only the second woman in the program's 40 year history. In total, I spent the equivalent of 1 year walking nearly 5,000 miles. The purpose of the Walk was to expose the students to other cultures, languages, geography, history, etc., all while slowing down and simplifying their lives. We slept in a tent and lived out of duffle bags and there were no cell phones or computers. The point was not to get to a specific destination, but rather the daily journey (walk) was the destination (being in the moment).
As the leader, I was responsible for selecting the students to participate, planning the route, booking all of the logistics (the van we used for 3 months, the flights, trains and ferries, setting up mail stops, hostels, etc.), preparing the summer session classes with the professors (students took summer classes prior to departing, including language and philosophy), planning the weekly meetings, purchasing the equipment, hiring assistants, and much more. I was responsible for 20 students and two assistants for 3 months, where anything could go wrong. It was daunting and amazing. Reading the students' final papers after the trip and seeing how much the experience affected them was the best feeling.
This summer you were part of the Move Committee that organized our transition to the fourth office location for the company. What was that experience like? What part of the move did you find the most challenging?
This was exciting and A LOT of work. It was really cool to see the new office before any revisions were made. To have a say on where walls went, what colors we liked, where meeting rooms should go, etc; that was a great! There was so much planning involved, from the initial design and infrastructure meetings (where will we have electric outlets to how many meeting rooms are needed), we certainly had our hands full. The most challenging aspect was that it occurred during our peak season, so making the time to do it all was difficult. There were a couple of hot summer weeks during the actual move that were very long days, but the group that we had working together was wonderful. We had so much fun at IKEA! The best part was seeing it all come together, followed by seeing everyone’s reactions when they first saw the new office. We are really proud of it!
You are one of the company experts who takes on the most complex, time-consuming moves -- moves that other companies won’t even attempt to manage. When you think back on the recent past, what move has been the most exotic or challenging one leading to that happy family reunion?
Off the top of my head, there was a girl who was finishing up her time with the Peace Corps. She adopted a stray dog while in a remote part of Madagascar and reached out to us while preparing to return home to the United States. A lot of things ended up happening that we did not anticipate. Most notably, the airline the dog was going to fly on from Madagascar to South Africa stopped its service indefinitely (and it was the only airline option available for pet transport). The client had to leave her dog behind while we worked with her awesome vet to come up with another solution. It took over a month to get the dog to South Africa (and then on to the US).
Even through all of that, the client was so happy when her puppy made it to her front door (on her birthday – the best present we could have given her!). There was a lot of behind the scenes planning and at times it was super stressful, but everything came together. Overall, anything touching on remote locations of Africa or involving the Middle East end up being among the most challenging and interesting moves that I have managed recently.
What advice to you have for people who want to be successful when they interview with us?
I think it’s important for people to share what their strengths and weaknesses are. I know weaknesses are not usually something people want to volunteer, but this is an industry that most people enter without specific experience, so being honest and upfront will go a long way.
I used to teach students on the Walk that their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. Having the self-awareness about that helps us tell how “real” applicants are. Also, I think people should know we aren’t going to ask typical interview questions and we aren’t looking for cookie cutter or generic responses. The team really wants to understand the candidate’s true personality and creativity.
When you are away from the office, how you like to spend your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and also enjoying all the great food the city has to offer -- we have amazing queso and breakfast tacos in Austin! The weather is pretty nice year-round, so you can usually find us outside, ideally by some water, or running around Town Lake.
On a more personal note: unfortunately we’ve been sad of late due to the passing of our 12-year-old chocolate Lab, Jackson. He was the best friend a girl could ever ask for and he is dearly missed. [Editor's note: Jackson will be missed by everyone at PetRelocation! He was a wonderful dog. ♥]
Say you have friends coming into Austin for the weekend. What one thing do they absolutely need to do or see so they can get the “Keep Austin Weird” experience?
I wouldn’t necessarily say our focus is on “Keep Austin Weird,” but there are token things I always do with visitors. They are: Torchy’s Tacos (not necessarily the best tacos, but a needed experience), BBQ (although I am a vegetarian, I don’t deprive my meat-eating guests), happy hours (yes, plural), usually a music festival, a walk by Stevie Ray Vaughn on Town Lake, brunch, possibly some tubing, the Alamo Drafthouse, and a visit to Whole Foods (flagship store).
Hollywood wants to make a movie about your life. Who do they cast to play you?
Reese Witherspoon keeps coming to my mind, but that’s because she was in the movie Wild, and all I’m thinking about right now is the Walk. Jennifer Connolly? Jennifer Gardner (circa Elektra, haha)? Drew Barrymore? Tough call…