PHOENIX, ARIZ. — As pet owners increasingly explore online avenues for pet shopping, Kira Best, vice president of sales, Chewy, at Royal Canin North America, is tasked with building out the brand’s presence on Chewy while underpinning its nutritional expertise in the functional and veterinary spaces. With two decades of CPG experience, Best is well-equipped to tackle this endeavor, but she is also focused on supporting the success of her teammates and other industry professionals as she leads Royal Canin into the future.
“Be authentic and be bold. Know that you are good enough and more than deserving of a seat at the table,” she said.
In the following Q&A, Best details her greatest challenges and achievements, and how she’s leveraging a penchant for professional development to lead her team to success.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Best: I’ve worked in the consumer product goods (CPG) industry for 20 years and spent the last eight years working in pet care. Throughout my career, I’ve had multiple experiences within sales including selling, trade, category management and people leadership across a diverse customer base.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?
Best: I started in the pet industry more than eight years ago with Royal Canin North America, expanding our business and partnership with one of the top national pet specialty retailers. Eventually, I moved into a role that allowed me to lead a team, which is a passion of mine, as I love aiding in professional development.
This role also afforded me the opportunity to scale a new retail program in support of the national pet specialty retailers to drive compliance and create value through gaining advocates and educating recommenders. That experience helped bring me to my current role of vice president of sales, partnering with the largest pet e-commerce retailer, Chewy.
PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?
Best: My biggest challenge was navigating unknowns presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020. The world essentially changed overnight, and there was no playbook on what to do. We had pet parents and retail partners to support, and I had a team of associates to assist, as well as a business to run. Being creative in how we did business helped me face adversity, be resilient, and showcase my leadership in times of ambiguity.
PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Best: Following 2020, as seen in many other industries, the supply chain became a challenge, which led to unpredictable service. Through high collaboration across multiple functions, I was able to stabilize demand despite challenging supply constraints, successfully implement Collaborative, Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR) processes, and help bring greater efficiency to both our business and retailer partnerships.
PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?
Best: Sustainability within the pet care industry is a high priority. Royal Canin has committed to being carbon neutral by the end of 2025. Some of the ways we plan to do this are by developing carbon-optimized formulas, procuring climate smart materials, transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and boosting circularity and transforming our ways of working.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?
Best: Prior to joining the industry, I did not realize just how many pets are considered family members to pet parents. Pet parents are very passionate and hold the same high standards for their pets’ needs as they would their own families.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Best: Spend time getting to know the pet professionals in the industry, whether that is through a veterinarian, shelter or breeder. Recommenders will continue to be a key critical part of a pet owner’s journey, so it is important to understand their needs and how you can help them support pet parents and their pets.
PFP: Just for fun, do you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person? Or, if you have pets of your own, tell us a little bit about them.
Best: I am very much a dog person. Unfortunately, we do not have a dog at this time, but are looking for the perfect companion to join our family.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Best: Be authentic and be bold. Know that you are good enough and more than deserving of a seat at the table. Lastly, make decisions that align with your values. Regardless of the outcome, you will know you remained true to yourself.
Kira Best first joined Royal Canin in 2015 as national account manager, where she leveraged previous CPG and customer strategy experience from Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and General Mills. Before being promoted to vice president of sales, Chewy, in June 2023, Best also served as field retail team leader for the company, through which she supported Royal Canin’s relationship with national pet specialty retailers. Aside from her work at Royal Canin, Best has also participated in the 2021 McKinsey Black Leadership Academy, Mars’ Women Leading Purposefully program in 2020, and Women Leaders Influencing and Navigating the Future of Mars in 2023. She has also co-led Royal Canin’s Black Advisory Council Associate Resource Group. Best earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas.
Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.