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Without missing a beat, Betsy Holden goes from describing a sledding holiday with her 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter to outlining the future of the global cheese business.

That juggling ability is what's enabled Ms. Holden, 42, to rise to president of Kraft Foods' cheese division, only one of two women in that company to attain the position. (Ann Fudge, now president of the company's coffee & cereals division, was featured in last year's Women to Watch.)

Achieving her current post took a combination of talent, hard work and family cooperation.

"It's taken a lot of organization," says Ms. Holden.

Her advice to others: "Find something you really love to do and then define for yourself what is success. Clearly lay out your own priorities and what tradeoffs you can make."

Ms. Holden started her career expecting to be an educator. "Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a teacher," she says. And teach she did, until a freelance stint as an expert helping to design Playskool toys gave her the marketing bug.


So she went for her M.B.A. in marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where she today participates in its mentoring program for women. From there she joined General Foods Corp. in 1982 as assistant product manager-desserts. She left GF to join Kraft, then a separate company, as brand manager-new products.

Since then she has held such positions as VP-new product development and strategy, president of Tombstone Pizza and exec VP-general manager of Kraft cheese before assuming her current post.

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