Loonawell brings together all the knowledge and expertise that I have collected throughout the years, in the fields of Cancer Research, Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition and Business Strategy, wraps it all up and puts it at the service of our dogs, these loving furry family members.
On this page i will share with you my story, my profile, the reason Loonawell exists. Who knows, maybe you will find that it resonates with you too.
Growing up in Estoril, Portugal, by the vast Atlantic ocean, has taught me one important lesson: to put things into perspective. Even today I always try to understand any aspect of life, by placing it into a wider context and explore how it is connected to other aspects.
At the University in Lisbon, I have studied Biology, a degree that teaches you about how our bodies work, the organisation and capabilities of different plant, animal and human species on earth, about bacteria, virus and the relationships between them all. While studying, I have volunteered at a Cancer Hospital, helping the elderly and children, giving them company, while they were receiving treatment. Here I learned about being genuine, about the the importance of caring for one another. I was also witness to how violent and devastating Cancer can be. I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to learn and help develop therapies to treat it and so I did.
I've enrolled in a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the Medical School in Lisbon and was offered a position at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, to develop my thesis.
For the following 6 years, in Boston, I studied the biological processes that lead to tumor development, how our bodies react to these and have found a new gene that today is a target of cancer therapy. I have met patients, talked with them about how i was using their cells for research and felt like never before the meaning of the word "purpose". I felt my life had a purpose.
In parallel I have enrolled in Tae Kwon Do classes, a martial art. What was supposed to be a hobby, soon became much more than that and after years of practicing I became a second degree black belt. Here i learned so much .... I have explored fears, broke boundaries and limitations i had created without noticing, I have met a new level of discipline and i have made life-long friendships. In essence I learned that what sometimes seems out of reach, might very well be reachable, if only we believe we can do it.
Moving on, and during my PhD I've also developed an interest for the commercialisation of technologies and the path from discovery to the consumer. After finishing my PhD and having done a few years of Postdoctoral fellowships, I decided to enrol in an MBA. I loved every piece of it and realized that my "true north" as Prof. Bill George explains in his book "Discover your True North", was (and still is) the interface between science and business. From then on and for the following 10 years i worked for different large corporations, and in the fields of innovation and business strategy, within the industries of health and nutrition. During this time I had the opportunity to lead the development of new natural ingredients, for food and beverages, manage different international teams and develop strategies of growth fuelled by innovation.
Looking back, I now realise that as my professional ambition was being fed with new roles, responsibilities and higher salaries, that feeling of purpose that I described at the beginning, was fading away. I certainly learned about the technicalities of developing new natural food and beverage ingredients with an underlying profitability, but the genuine relationships that I had once been exposed to, the sense of caring, the feeling of contributing for something that also benefits others .... all this was eroding. Instead, new lessons were on the horizon, and I have learned about humiliation and what it feels to be on the receiving end of abuse of power. Scientifically interesting concepts to be exposed to, for the sake of developing an understanding of the world with all its colors, but not an enriching environment for further growth.
Meanwhile, as the professional distress was developing, something beautiful was balancing it all. Luna, a Westie puppy, had joined the family and was embraced from the beginning as a family member. For Luna, I started applying the same criteria that I would when choosing my own food (natural, organic, non-processed, free from artificial colors, flavors, ect..) but I soon realized that it was not possible or very hard to find. I have in turn learned that our pets are mostly fed with low quality raw materials, some of which are forbidden in the human food chain. Such raw materials, in many cases providing no nutritional value, can even be harmful to our dogs if used continuously. With the knowledge that I had acquired in my career I could soon understand that the drivers behind animal nutrition are quite different from those of human nutrition, and the reason is simple: in the case of animal nutrition, the consumer is a silent one, one that never complains, one that doesn't push for new healthier trends. There is no voice objecting against the "profit at all costs" growth strategy of the leading corporations playing in this field. For that same reason, the regulation around animal food is outdated and allows for marketing claims that are strongly misleading. As I once heard another dog owner say, "one almost needs a science degree to decipher and make sense of a pet food label": Very true.
Nevertheless as we, pet owners, become more aware of our own nutrition, I believe we all still want to see those same healthy demands reflected in our pet's food.
And now to wrap it all up: Loonawell.
Loonawell, brings it all together, but at an all new level of meaning and purpose. Loonawell is based on strong knowledge, a meaning behind every ingredient, every concept, every product. A transparent, healthy and nutritious choice for our dogs, also giving us as owners happiness and peace of mind.