In January, Abhay Nayak took on the role of head of global strategy, commercial development and customer experience at animal health company Zoetis Inc. (ZTS). Nayak was previously head of corporate strategy at the Parsippany, N.J.-based firm, which he joined in 2018 after working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. and an investment banker at Barclays plc.
Nayak, who will be speaking on July 28 as part of The Deal Economy: Middle Market Week, said in an interview that trends in the companion animal segment such as the humanization of pets have accelerated amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“What Covid has done is emphasize how important companionship is in this period of isolation,” Nayak said.
Preventive healthcare and diagnostics have also grown in importance due to the pandemic, he noted.
On the livestock side, Nayak expects to see continued consolidation activity.
“Consolidation will continue because it is a business that is quite exposed to the commodities cycle, so the more economies of scale you have, the better profitability you have,” he said. He continues to expect dairy farms to combine with larger ones.
Another trend in the livestock segment is the use of data analytics which can help address the health of animals in a more individualized way, he said.
Zoetis, which spun off from Pfizer Inc. (PFE) in 2013, is led by CEO Kristin Peck, who succeeded Juan Ramón Alaix at the helm of the company in January this year. The company offers medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products for livestock and companion animals.
Nayak graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of arts degree in economics in 2009, then worked as an investment banker at Barclays in London. He advised private equity firms on M&A, restructuring and other transactions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“I felt it was a good training ground and big accelerant for me coming out of undergrad to build that core toolkit of analytical skills,” Nayak said. He worked on deals in sectors including healthcare, business services and retail.
Nayak went on to obtain his MBA degree from the Wharton School, where he was a Palmer scholar, in 2015, then joined McKinsey as a consultant, advising pharmaceutical and medical device firms on strategy.
At Zoetis, Nayak leads a team of about 40 people across the global strategy, commercial development and customer experience functions.
Nayak and his team work closely with the finance team, where functions including M&A reside, to drive strategy.
Zoetis’ recent acquisitions of reference laboratory businesses provide an example of the collaboration between the teams, Nayak said.
Zoetis entered the veterinary reference laboratory space with its purchase of Phoenix Central Laboratory for Veterinarians Inc. in October. The company then acquired ZNLabs in November and Ethos Diagnostic Science in February.
The transactions are part of the company’s strategy to provide a more comprehensive diagnostics offering for veterinarians.