Caroline Slootweg


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As director of digital marketing and new media, Caroline Slootweg has seen Unilever's online budgets double annually for five years.

The consumer giant's big investment in digital is in large part due to Ms. Slootweg's continued push for new and innovative ways to use the medium across the company's portfolio of brands.

She heads a team of three -- all women -- who work with Unilever's brand-development teams on digital solutions, concentrating on the bigger ($1.5 billion-plus) brands.

"People tend to fall back on what they know," Ms. Slootweg says, "but I encourage them to be creative and empower them to feel confident in the new space. I tell them I'll be the one to get fired if it doesn't work out."

"Change doesn't frighten Caroline. It excites her," Shelly Lazarus, chairman-CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, says of the Ogilvy alumna.

The Dove Channel is one of Ms. Slootweg's more recent projects, created in association with MSN. Ms. Slootweg, 33, is also excited about an in-game ad project she's working on for Vaseline Men.

With an American mother, a Dutch father and a South African birth certificate -- and a master's in business–Ms. Slootweg has a pedigree that stands out from the crowd.

She started her career in New York, arriving with "two bags and no job," but she soon landed an internship at OgilvyOne. It was the late 1990s, during the dot-com boom, and she worked on applying interactive solutions to integrated marketing, playing a key role in winning the Motorola pitch in 2000.

After four years, Ms. Slootweg headed to the Netherlands to be among the tulip fields and beaches of her childhood. There she developed her love of sports and the outdoors. (Ms. Slootweg ran the New York Marathon in 2001 and is training for a triathlon.)

In Amsterdam, she freelanced as an account manager at 180, then accepted a permanent job at Unilever, moving to London.

"Unilever is a great place to work for women," Ms. Slootweg says, "and the internet is an inherently female space. It's everything women love -- chat, connection, sharing knowledge and thinking -- and it's getting more feminine with changes in tools and applications; it's less aggressively male and more intuitive."

Ms. Slootweg doesn't intend to stay in London for the rest of her life, but she does intend to stay in the business.

"It's full of people who dance to the beat of their own drum," she says. "I love the communications industry."
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