Marketers in the C-Suite: Relatively Young, with Short Tenures

February 10, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Featured | Financial Services | Industries | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce | Staffing | Technology

KornFerry Age Tenure C Suite in 2019 Feb2020There is no question that the plates of today’s CMOs are full, as they spend their days aligning strategic priorities with other C-suite members and struggling to deliver an excellent customer experience while driving business growth – all while making the effort to sit on one or more boards. Not only that, they’re tasked with doing all of this while facing a relatively short tenure, per a study from Korn Ferry.

Average Tenure: 3.5 Years

In its analysis of the top 1,00 US companies by revenue, Korn Ferry found that the average tenure for a C-suite member is 4.9 years, with CEOs spending the longest time in their role at an average of 6.9 years. CMOs, on the other hand, have the shortest tenure of all C-suite members, staying in that role just 3.5 years on average.

In breaking down average tenures by industry and title, it’s clear that CMOs in some sectors spend a longer time than others in that position. Indeed, CMOs in the industrial sector average 1 year longer than those in the technology sector. Even so, these particular CMOs still manage to have the second-shortest tenure of the C-suite executives examined, on average.

In order of longest to shortest tenures, the results for CMOs broke out as follows:

  • Industrial: 4.0 years (2nd shortest of the C-suite behind CHROs – 3.9);
  • Financial Services: 3.9 years (shortest in the C-suite);
  • Healthcare: 3.4 years (2nd shortest behind CHROs – 3.0);
  • Energy: 3.3 years (shortest);
  • Consumer: 3.2 years (shortest);
  • Tech: 3.0 years (shortest).

The most recent figures from Spencer Stuart, which also measures trends in CMO tenure, are very close to those of this new analysis from Korn Ferry. In a report released last year, Spencer Stuart reported that CMO tenure in 2018 averaged about 43 months (3.6 years). The analysis also indicates that CMO tenure has fluctuated somewhat in the past few years after peaking at 48 months in 2014. (Spencer Stuart derives its figures from a review of the tenure of chief marketers at 100 of the top US advertised brands.)

Interestingly, other data from Russell Reynolds Associates finds that when a CMO leaves a company, the move is likely to be lateral, as two-thirds of those who have left the position in one company go on to another marketing role in their new company.

Average Age: 54

With an average age of 54, CMOs are 2 years younger than the C-suite average (56) and a good 5 years younger on average than CEOs, who remain the oldest at 59. In fact, CMOs, along with CFOs, are the youngest in the C-suite.

There is very little variance in the average age of CMOs across industries, ranging from 53-54 in almost all the industries analyzed. Two industries stand slightly apart on either end of that range. CMOs in the Industrial sector have an average age of 55, which is the second youngest in the C-suite after CFOs (54). In the Consumer sector, CMOs are the youngest members at 52.

And, while CMOs have tended to be the youngest and in their positions for the shortest amount time, one thing that seems to be changing is who is filling this position, as the number of female and male CMOs have reached near parity.

You can read more about the study here.

About the Data: Figures are based on the analysis conducted in late 2019 of age and tenure of members of the C-suite (CEO, CFO, CIO/CTO, CMO, CHRO) at the 1,000 largest US companies by revenue.

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