Industry Supplier – Christine Heller

Christine HellerChristine Heller
Bacardi USA, Inc.
Field Marketing director, National on-Premise accounts
Coral gables, Florida

Christine Heller will be celebrating 30 years with Bacardi USA this year. She started her career in 1980 as an Assistant Market Manager in New York and has held positions of Market and Regional Manager, Senior Brand Manager of Dewar’s Scotch, and Channel Marketing Manager. It is a rarity these days for anyone to work for the same company that many years, and Christine is just as passionate and enthusiastic today as she was her first day on the job. Now, as Field Marketing Director of National On-Premise accounts, she starts her fourth decade of promoting and planning for one of the greatest spirits suppliers in the world.

in the Mix
took the opportunity to talk with Christine and get to know her better.

ITM – You are obviously a very dedicated individual. What motivates you every day?

CH – I am fortunate to work for a company that is still family owned. One of the advantages of that is there is a true sense of family first, which fosters friendships among the entire “Bacardi Family” of employees. In addition, we also have a culture of HPT (High Performing Teams) and a spirit of ONE BACARDI® BACARDI #1. Coming to work every day and being met by new challenges is not so daunting, as support is only a phone call away. Of course, the portfolio of brands is one to be proud of and I enjoy the smile on everyone’s face when I mention BACARDI®, DEWAR’S®, GREY GOOSE®, and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE®.

ITM – Bacardi has always changed with the times yet kept true to their heritage and history. Could you touch on that?

CH – Fifth generation descendants from the founder, Don Facundo, are actively involved in the business. We have family members in positions of Chairman of the Board, managing directors, sales and marketing, and even new product development. By culture – their culture – Cubans are dedicated to the family. Therefore, the legends and stories dating back to the birth of Bacardi Rum, and the family’s triumphs and struggles throughout the centuries remain in our hearts and minds. Bacardi Rums are still our #1 focus and the name Bacardi represents a family, a #1 brand, and a company. We live our history and heritage.

ITM – You have seen the changes and trends in this business for a long time. Do you have any premonitions for the next decade without giving away any secrets?

CH – I believe the organic and green movements will continue to drive new product innovation, which in turn will affect the spirits world and drive cutting edge technology that will impact continued creativity in cocktail mixology. I see bartenders gaining status and bartending becoming a professional career, following in the footsteps of chefs and the culinary movement from last decade. New flavors in high quality spirits products will continue to come from nature’s “healthful” bounty of exotic fruits and vegetables. Bartender-focused mixology competitions and conferences, as well as training & education programs and opportunities, will be the new “celebrity chef” trend.

ITM – We hear you are very involved in charity work. Could you touch on that and how you find the time for it?

CH – Volunteering is what keeps me sane. Weekends are when I find time for charitable work. I have learned to shut down from the “weekday job” to find time for Sky Ranch for Boys and therapeutic horseback riding instruction. A year ago last October, I worked to become a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and it has given me more joy than I can measure. A child’s smile is all the motivation I need to continue to help where I can, to make their day a little bit brighter.

ITM – Thank you Christine for your insight, and good luck this year!