Barossa vet named 40 Under 40 First Among Equals

Presented by Solstice Media, the First Among Equals award is selected by the judging panel as the finalist who embodies the values of the 40 Under 40 program.

Dr Catherine Harper and her family celebrated her being named InDaily's First Among Equals. Photo: Morgan Sette

Dr Catherine Harper and her family celebrated her being named InDaily's First Among Equals. Photo: Morgan Sette

For Dr Catherine Harper, her career as a veterinarian is one where passion meets purpose.

Since acquiring Barossa Veterinary Service (BVS) – formerly known as PI Jones and Associates – in 2016, the entrepreneur has scaled up the business by opening a third location and increasing turnover five-fold. This means an additional 24 jobs for Catherine’s local community where she operates – Nuriootpa, Kapunda and Tanunda.

Clients love BVS because Catherine ensures patient care comes first. But there’s another reason that Catherine leaps out of bed every day to treat pets, horses and livestock: it’s an opportunity to drive change in the profession.

“I love my profession; it is a career where a passion meets purpose,” Catherine says.

“Yet it is one with some very complex challenges that a lot of people are working hard to solve.

“I do not know all the solutions, yet I know that young women are the future of our profession, due to graduating classes being 90 per cent female. Only by some of us taking up business ownership, challenging the status quo of traditional veterinary business models and creating inspiring workplaces will we be able to make a difference.”

Catherine’s dream since she was young was to become a vet and she realised early in her career that being a business owner was a goal to pursue.

Since taking ownership of BVS, Catherine has grown the business from 11 to 35 employees, who proudly take up the business’ mantra of commitment, compassion and community.

The business is also big on giving back to the local community and works with groups like the Lutheran Community Centre to provide dog and cat food to its foodbank, supports local sporting teams via sponsorships, and is a regular entrant in the Barossa Christmas Parade where last year BVS won the ‘best float’ award for its entry titled “Reindeer need check-ups too”.

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It’s a vital part of the Barossa and by offering an after hours service it is the only veterinary business in the area that can see animal patients overnight that would otherwise have to travel to Adelaide for care.

Catherine is not slowing down any time soon and has plans to launch a purpose-built and designed veterinary hospital at Nuriootpa.

“The goal for this facility is to be a central hub where we can provide an excellent suite of diagnostic and treatment services to the community, helping to reduce the need to travel for treatment and potentially in the future host specialists,” she says.

On a longer-term basis, BVS is looking at introducing mobile pet care services, which could service areas outside of the Barossa.

The full list of InDaily’s 40 under 40 for 2024 can be found here.

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