The Variable, one-part innovation consultancy and one-part advertising agency, has announced the promotion of David Mullen to chief executive officer and Jodi Heelan to chief financial officer. Mullen previously served as president of The Variable, a role he was promoted to in 2017. Heelan moves into the role of CFO having previously served as the agency’s director of business development and operations for the previous four years.

Since joining the agency in 2013, Mullen has played a significant role in shaping The Variable into a unique combination of an advertising agency that drives growth for today and an innovation consultancy that designs growth for tomorrow. That marriage of innovation and advertising has led to successful client partnerships with globally-recognized brands like P&G, Nestlé, NAPA Auto Parts, Electrolux, Char-Broil, BASF and Frigidaire, to name a few. 

“From day one, David has been instrumental in helping us develop a differentiated offering, one that not only drives growth for our clients’ businesses, but also has provided amazing growth for our own agency and team,” said Keith Vest, chairman of The Variable. “But perhaps more importantly, he has been an incredible leader – especially over the myriad of challenges we all have faced over the past two years. We have set an exciting vision for the future of our business along with ambitious goals and we look forward to accomplishing those and more with David’s leadership as our CEO.”

Heelan also joined The Variable in 2013. In her most recent role as director of business development and operations, she led the agency’s new business, finance, operations and HR teams, and helped The Variable build a more profitable and sustainable agency model that delivers disproportionate value for its clients. 

That commitment to building a better agency also led Heelen to develop a value-based pricing model for the agency, which ultimately eliminated the use of time sheets at The Variable. Heelen also led the work to turn that model into Fairly, a web-based platform used by The Variable that has since evolved into a SaaS solution all agencies can use for better pricing and resource allocation. 

“We have seen a tremendous amount of success in our agency’s 10-year history, especially over the past three years, and Jodi has played a significant role in helping us accomplish that, ” said Mullen. “She’s been heavily involved in – and in many cases spearheaded – changing and refining our agency model, evolving how we build relationships with clients, and assembling an impressively talented team. As we look ahead to our next stage of growth, we need a phenomenal leader in the CFO seat who will help us achieve it. Luckily for us, we recognized that person was already on the team. Jodi was the clear choice for our vision, for our team and for our clients.”  

Thanks to the leadership of Mullen, Heelan and others, The Variable has earned recognition and accolades that include being named a three-time Ad Age Small Agency of the Year; a two-time Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators; a Forbes America’s Best Startup Employers; and, most recently, Adweek’s Fastest Growing Agencies. 

For more information on The Variable, visit