Heather brought her love of cats and dogs with her when she came to Purina in 2004. Her passion for the bond between people and pets, and her love of the company's culture have kept her here for over 8 years.
What brought you to work at Purina?
While I was getting my MBA, I did an internship at Purina. It was amazing. The projects I got to work on right out of the gate were exciting, really strategic. And, the people I got to work with were sincere, always willing to share, not competitive with one another. Growing up in L.A., I never really imagined I'd be living in the Midwest, but after one summer, I was sold.
What did you think you were going to do when you were in college?
I always knew it would have something to do with business. I remember being in high school and talking to a teacher and saying, "I want to get my business degree because no matter what you do, even if you're selling pet food, you're going to have to understand business." Who would have thought I'd actually wind up working at a pet food company?
Have you ever had any pets?
Yes. I grew up with cats and dogs. I had 2 cats of my own up until 2005. My husband and I were both allergic to them, but we loved them so much that we toughed it out. But, when we had our first child and he showed signs of allergies, my mother-in-law came to the rescue and we moved the kitties to her house.
Then 2 years ago, we got a pet and it's a fish. He's a beta fish, a Siamese Fighting Fish, - he's stunning, royal blue, with beautiful big fins and a streak of red. I bought him for my son, but he's turned out to be my pet.
I'm sure a dog is in our future - it's just a matter of time.
What have you learned working at Purina ONE?
Probably the most important thing I've learned is that you need to listen to your gut, that it's rare that it will lead you astray.
I learned this with beyOnd. It took a few years to get beyOnd just right. During that process there were ups and downs, but I knew the product was great and that it was just a matter of finding the right way (and the right time) to bring it to market. But, working through everything during that time takes patience, faith and organizational commitment. Thankfully, we had all three.
How does it feel to see something you helped create and develop come to life?
It's amazing. Building beyOnd and working on the Purina ONE brand is the best thing I've ever done in my professional career. To have company support and a leadership team that says, "Yeah, go do it" is terrific. And being able to create every part of beyOnd, from the product to the packaging to the communication, is a rare opportunity. A lot of times you get to a business and rely on the history that's already been created, but to work on something where you get to create its whole history is special. And with beyOnd, there were a lot of firsts for the category, in terms of product, packaging, messaging, etc. But, the best part is the response from people who have purchased beyOnd. We hear all the time about how grateful people are to be able to feed this food to their pets and what a difference it has made. That's really special.
What's your favorite thing about the culture of Purina ONE?
The people. The people make it. The category is great because who doesn't love dogs and cats? But the people on this team really care … care about the products, care about doing a great job and care about putting the consumer first. Everybody here wants to make a difference. We want to produce products and experiences that no one's ever had before.
What's your goal for Purina ONE in the next year?
I'd like to see us continue the momentum we have - we're striking a chord with our products, our communication and our community. We need to keep finding ways to connect that are relevant and differentiated.