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Who is today’s CMO? New research examines factors influencing success

by | Sep 25, 2017 | Marketing, Public Relations

What do modern CMOs look like? What’s their typical background, their qualifications, their pedigree? Adaptive marketing tools provider Act-On Software recently released findings from the CMO Index Report, a new inquiry into the evolving role of today’s chief marketing officer in the U.S. and the UK.

“If there’s anything this research makes clear, it’s that the role of CMO is changing, and that our expectations of CMOs are evolving,” said Susy Dunn, Act-On’s chief people officer, in a news release. “We might still prioritize the same traits in CMOs we always have—a deep business acumen, an affinity for partnerships, cross-functional empathy—but it’s important we be mindful of how we’re enabling and empowering tomorrow’s CMOs today; to make sure we’re setting them up for success and helping to develop them in these key areas.”

Who is today’s CMO? New research examines factors influencing success

Among the trends that emerged:

Gender has a role to play in career advancement

Fifty-six percent of the CMOs identified in the U.S. are women—higher than can often be expected for executive roles, and perhaps the result of larger conversations around corporate diversity. 60 percent of the CMOs identified in the UK, however, are men.

Education carries weight

Thirty percent of CMOs in the UK and U.S. have Master’s certifications and higher, which, in the U.S. at least, marks a climb from years past. In the UK, Oxbridge’s prestige might be wearing thin—only 9 percent of CMOs analyzed were educated there.

Career success can be a waiting game

On average, CMOs in the U.S. tend to serve their companies for at least five years before earning executive titles, while CMOs in the UK often served their companies for 8 to 9 years. U.S. CMOs also serve at least four other companies before ultimately reaching the C-level, which corresponds with research from Korn Ferry: the CMO role typically sees the most turnover in the C-suite.

Talent is often homegrown, and promoted from within

The majority of CMOs analyzed in the U.S. and UK are native to the two countries—70 percent in the UK were British-born, 100 percent in the U.S. were American-born—and promoted from within their own companies (86 percent in the UK, 89 percent in the U.S.). Agency experience, it seems, is no longer much of a credential.

Get more information on the study and its findings here.

The report included research from 80 Chief Marketing Officers (or equivalent) from the FTSE100, taking into account their LinkedIn profile and publicly available data on their experience and job history – as well as 70 Chief Marketing Officers (or equivalent) from the Inc. 5000 list of mid-sized companies in the US and North America, taking into account their LinkedIn profile and publicly available data on their experience and job history.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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