GLOBAL PRESIDENT-BABY CARE, JOHNSON & JOHNSON
She's a graduate of one of the pillars of package-goods marketing, the Kraft (and General Foods) academy that's produced former Gillette Co. CEO Jim Kilts and current Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld, among others.
Yet Ms. Heller, 46, also has run a direct-marketing business, Gevalia Kaffe, while at Kraft and a private-equity-backed frozen-food company as CEO of Chung's Gourmet.
Her latest endeavor returned Ms. Heller to a big, multibrand package-goods company as global president-baby care, heading one of Johnson & Johnson's most global and innovative marketing units, which gets 83% of its business outside North America. Indeed, the global nature of J&J's baby-care business was one thing that enticed Ms. Heller back into the corporate-marketing fold in 2005 after running Chung's.
"I did like doing something entrepreneurial," she says. "But I also liked having the resources of a larger organization to really grow a business for the long term. ... Private equity is not so geared to that."
Ms. Heller admits navigating a new corporate culture and nurturing new relationships was a big change after 18 years at Kraft and running a small company. But the executive is succeeding, as J&J's baby-care business has grown 8% in each of the past two years.
All of that prior experience helped. From direct marketing on the Gevalia business at Kraft, for example, she learned "almost everything is measurable, and you do look to set very clear outcomes." J&J's baby care is increasingly a direct marketer through its online BabyCenter unit, whose expansion Ms. Heller has overseen to 10 new markets in recent years.
From Kraft, Ms. Heller also learned the importance of consumer focus, which led her to step up the baby-care unit's shopper-marketing efforts in the U.S.
Ms. Heller's well-roundedness goes beyond business. The mother of two girls, 9 and 13, recently became chairman of national youth organization Girls Inc. and joined the advisory board for African-American studies at Princeton.
Her combination of brains, humor and courage makes Ms. Heller one of the best clients she's ever worked for, says Barbara Boyle, executive creative director at Lowe, New York.
"She demands good stuff from us, and when she gets it, she reacts from her gut," Ms. Boyle says. "It's 'I really love it' or 'I really hate it,' which I love from a client. She reacts like a human being. ... She's got a wonderful intuition."