What Roles Are CMOs Taking When They Change Companies?

September 30, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Featured | Staffing

When talking to one another, some 3 in 10 (31%) of CMOs say that one of the topics they discuss is advancing in their careers beyond a marketing role. That being said, if a CMO is hoping to move into a broader role such as General Manager or CEO, they have only about a 20% chance of being promoted internally, per a Russell Reynolds Associates analysis of more than 200 senior marketing job changes that occurred during the first half of 2019.

Indeed, the report found that in the past three years, more than half (55%) of outgoing CMOs went to their next role at a new company, while only 18% were promoted within their company. More than one-third (36%) of the CMOs who were internally promoted in the last three years were promoted to President or General Manager positions, while 6% were made CEO.

In 2018, some 47% of CMOs took up their next role at a new company. Of those, nearly one-quarter (23%) joined the new company in a General Manager, President or CEO role. This is up from the previous two years (22% in 2017, 18% in 2016).

However, it appears that when a CMO takes up a role at a new company it is more of a lateral move, with two-thirds (66%) moving into marketing roles at their new company. This trend has been consistent for the past three years.

Want To Be A CMO? Look Externally

Russell Reynolds found that in the first half of 2019, 81% of the new CMO appointments were external hires. This means if you are a marketer looking to advance into a leadership role, your chances of advancing internally with your current company may be low.

The report postulates that the lack of promoting internally is because “today’s VP-level marketers are often so specialized (e.g. CRM, loyalty, or data and analytics route up), that many of these mid-level marketing leaders lack a deep understanding of the full spectrum of marketing that is demanded of a CMO today.”

Previous research backs up the idea that as the role of CMO changes, they are expected to wear many hats throughout the day.

CMOs around the world say that one of their top functions is driving business growth, while they must also address the challenges that are unique to the digital age such as data security, privacy and the expectation of always-on customer support.

Moreover for most businesses, marketing now ‘owns’ the customer. While CMOs agree that customer experience is now one of their responsibilities, many do not think they are up to par with their competitors. The CMO Survey found that CMOs feel that they have fallen behind their competitors when it comes to the various elements of the customer experience such as developing the capabilities to design, deliver and monitor customer experience and integrating touchpoints across the customer journey.

Another skill required of the modern CMO is the ability to collaborate with different branches of the organization. Accenture research reveals that top-performing CMOs place value on being able to collaborate within the C-Suite. This not only includes working closely with the CMO but also with the CFO, CSO and CIO.

Read more, including a full list of the analyzed marketing moves in H1 2019, here.

About the Data: 2019 data is based on analysis of 214 senior marketing job changes during the first half of 2019.

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