Kimberly Honeycutt Drives Innovation for People and Pets Alike at Mars

Kimberly Honeycutt is rightfully celebrating a new development in her life. The IP expert recently started a new role as senior counsel at Mars in the company’s Science & Diagnostics division of its pet care business. She was just weeks into the new role when she spoke with American Healthcare Leader, but that doesn’t mean the lawyer’s animal healthcare experience is anything but seasoned. Honeycutt has been in the space for two decades, and she’s bringing global IP experience and a wide range of capabilities outside IP to brands and organizations like Pedigree, Whiskas, Wisdom Panel, and the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition.

IP was the perfect path for Honeycutt who grew up a math and science whiz kid. Honeycutt was dragged to enough math and science conferences by her schoolteaching mother as a kid that she probably could have presented on her own.

“I got so much exposure to math and science growing up; it’s always been a part of me,” the lawyer explains. “But in the back of my mind, I always wondered what I was going to do with a math degree.”

Honeycutt would eventually move to IP law for a reason many can relate to: she was already doing the majority of the work. Having graduated with her PhD in molecular biology, the future lawyer found that law firms were hiring PhDs to work as patent agents, and she began exploring IP law. A firm hired Honeycutt to work with other scientists and translate their work for people outside of the industry.

Kimberly Honeycutt Elanco
Photo by Nathan Ham

While Honeycutt was writing and prosecuting patents, she realized she essentially acted as a lawyer without the right degree.

“I was doing what the attorneys were doing for a whole lot less,” Honeycutt says, laughing. “But they helped me go to law school and continue to learn on the job.”

Honeycutt’s animal health experience includes Bayer’s Animal Health business, which Elanco purchased in 2020. The lawyer’s IP experience is deep, but she could also tackle multiple other areas of practice while acting as assistant general counsel through multiple promotions. The lawyer managed a global docket, supported research and development, and helped with third-party relationships. She acted as a “mini general counsel” at a time when Honeycutt was looking to spread her wings.

“Triggering and leveraging IP takes a lot of creativity, knowledge, and know-how,” Honeycutt says. “As I’ve grown and developed, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from people all over the business. You realize that the more diverse opinions you have around a table, the better the decisions are ultimately going to be.”

Coming to Mars is the next big step for Honeycutt, who says the science and diagnostics unit she’s supporting is doing cutting-edge science that will benefit veterinarians, animal clinicians, and pet owners alike. The senior counsel says the explosion of pet-friendly offices and more open animal environments is demonstrably good for workers, and she’s excited to be part of a business unit that can leverage all of her animal health expertise.

With a teacher for a mother, it’s no wonder that Honeycutt also values in-house education. The lawyer says whether she’s the one seeking out the answers or if she’s sharing her knowledge with others, that curiosity and willingness to take time to grow has always been in her DNA.

“I think part of that curiosity stems from a misconception with IP and how to use it,” Honeycutt explains. “There’s always that opportunity to stop and explain that IP is more than just having a patent or trademark. It’s how you can leverage it. Or it’s about looking at an issue and painting the picture for others about all of the different avenues you can take to accomplish your goal. You can insert IP education in that along the way.”

For those just beginning their IP careers, Honeycutt recommends not just focusing on a specific invention or idea. Instead, get to know the business and how innovation can positively intersect with broader goals and visions. Every business is unique, and IP can only be positively leveraged and driven when it aligns with business goals. That may sound elementary, but Honeycutt knows just how tough it can be to align the two.

Honeycutt may have just started her role at Mars Science & Diagnostics, but she’ll continue to find new ways to grow and drive the business forward. Whether she’s wearing her PhD, JD, business partner, or IP expert hat, Honeycutt continues to fuel innovation for man and beast alike.

On the Road

Outside of her new role, it may be hard to find Kimberly Honeycutt without a GPS. The wife and mother of two is likely somewhere near the Canadian border on a Boundary Waters camping, hiking, ice-fishing, or skiing trip with her family. With one daughter ready to go to college and another in high school, the lawyer may have a little more time to spend outdoors in the next few years.

The post Kimberly Honeycutt Drives Innovation for People and Pets Alike at Mars appeared first on American Healthcare Leader.

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