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As the point person for MasterCard International's global sponsorships, including golf, soccer, and Formula One auto racing, Mava Heffler experiences hairpin turns on a daily basis.

But the 43-year-old senior VP-global promotions & sponsorships keeps her equilibrium by focusing on the marketing message, rather than the specific sport or event MasterCard uses to reach consumers around the world.

Ms. Heffler honed her ability to look at the big picture of brand marketing during marketing jobs at package-goods companies including Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson, where she spearheaded J&J's initiatives in cause marketing.

Eventually she was hired by MasterCard, in 1991, as VP-U.S. promotions to oversee a variety of sponsorship and marketing efforts.

In 1994, when MasterCard was a major sponsor of soccer's biggest event, the World Cup, Ms. Heffler headed up U.S. sponsorship marketing encompassing 35 different programs localized in nine U.S. cities. She was promoted to oversee MasterCard's sponsorships worldwide the next year.

"You learn a lot, and fast, but you don't have to know everything," Ms. Heffler says of her immersion into such diverse sports as the National Hockey League and European auto racing.

Her game plan has always been to use integrated marketing to build programs from the grass roots up to national and worldwide relevance "by hitting on all cylinders at once, using one common voice in marketing communications," she says.

The secret, she says, isn't how much you have to spend: "It's all in how you balance it."

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