My exposure to female executives started with my mother. Her willingness to do whatever it took to be successful was remarkable. She did that even while raising us four children.

I remember when she was promoted as one of the first women directors in her company. It was a really big deal then and very inspiring for me to see.

I first realized my career path when I was at GE Capital Consulting. We were selling technology solutions to various agencies. That was my first customer-facing role, and I learned about true customer service. People talk all the time about customer satisfaction, but I learned it’s more about ensuring that customers are successful.

As I progressed, I found that I was the person willing to work the hardest no matter what job I was in and that I am a very results-oriented person.

I took a lot of initiative. When I was a practice director, I had one line of business that I helped expand into a national business and another that grew to include a services-based line of business. It became more profitable than some of the other businesses that were a part of GE Capital Consulting.

Shelly Heiden (Handout)

That got noticed.

The way I did it sounds simple. I hired the right people and then retained them. In the space we’re in, it’s all about the people who work in your company. But I learned that there’s not a cookie-cutter approach. What motivates one person is not going to motivate another person. That was a hard lesson I learned because at one point, I lost some key people whom I didn’t want to lose. I took that lesson with me.

In five years at GE Capital Consulting, I went from a business analyst to running the Mid-Atlantic region. Getting that role was a defining moment for me where I felt like I could be successful.

But I began feeling like I wanted to make a bigger impact. You grow faster in a smaller company. Not just in title but in the breadth of responsibility.

So I jumped to a small company called Plateau Systems. Because everyone at a small company is a player-coach, I crammed 20 years of experience into five years. It went from a small company to a 65,000-person company after being acquired by SuccessFactors.

I’ve been immersed in the talent management space for 13 years. Now I find myself in the streaming media space, and it is an exciting opportunity because the time is so right for this industry and this company.

Now, as chief executive, I’m excited about selling the product and making sure we have happy customers year over year.

Interview with Vanessa Small

Shelly Heiden

Position: Chief executive of VBrick Solutions, a Herndon company that offers media management and distribution solutions.

Career highlights: Senior vice president of worldwide professional sales, SuccessFactors/SAP Cloud Solutions; senior executive president of global operations, Plateau Systems; vice president of industry solutions group, PSINet; managing director, GE Capital Consulting.

Age: 49

Personal: Lives in Leesburg with her husband, Rodd, and son, Reid.