Unilever homecare chief handed key food position

Unilever UK chief marketer for home and personal care Helena Ganczakowski has moved to a European role in Unilever’s foods division.

The home and personal care (HPC) director of marketing has been handed the role of vice-president of brand development for vitality platforms. The position, which is based in Unilever Foods UK’s office in West Sussex, is likely to involve developing Unilever Foods’ high-margin “vitality” brands – those which it claims help people “look good, feel good, and get more out life” – such as the cholesterol-lowering Flora Pro-Activ range.

She will report to senior vice-president of vitality platforms Peter Soer, who has a global role.

Ganczakowski’s new role will not affect the existing UK food division’s marketing team. Her former role with the UK HPC division remains vacant.

The move is the latest in a rapid succession within Unilever for the Cambridge engineering graduate, who began her career at US chemical giant Du Pont investigating the causes of cracking in aeroplane wings.

She left Du Pont to join Lever Brothers as a marketing trainee in 1988, and worked her way up to become senior brand manager for fabric detergents, before joining Unilever’s corporate strategy group in 1996.

Three years later, in September 1999, she was plucked from the strategy unit and appointed marketing director for Unilever UK HPC, becoming the packaged goods giant’s first female director.

Her role was to oversee branding, advertising and category strategy for a portfolio including Persil and Surf. She made a name for herself by axing the Radion brand during her first three months in the job.

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