So you want to be a CMO?

[New year, new blog.  I’m cross-posting here from a blog I started called "Do You Have A Second?"  It’s a career-related blog; in my time as a manager, mentor, peer, and employee, I received my fair share of good and bad advice.  The name comes from the phrase that you often hear when someone wants to share a piece of candid feedback with you.]

Back in October, I was a privileged fly on the wall of Forrester’s CMO Leadership Board meeting in Chicago.  The guest speaker was Greg Welch
from Spencer Stuart, talking about what makes a good CMO.  Greg should
know – he handles some of the highest profile searches around.

Some things you may know already:

  • CMO tenure is way down
    – almost 23 months, about half of CEO tenure.
  • These are $1mm jobs that
    are really general manager roles that come with high stakes and
  • New chief marketers need to build bridges and prove that
    marketing delivers value, doesn’t just spend money.
  • A key question:
    does your marketing team look like your customer base?

CEOs are looking for a fit at the intersection of job (i.e.
responsibilities), organization (i.e. cultural elements), and personal
qualifications (i.e. competencies).  The top skills required for

  • Leadership – influence and impact.
  • A track record of results
    – no excuses.
  • General management and P&L experience.
  • Innovation

So how do you get there?

  • In the short term, create a list of your
    100 goals in life.
  • Develop a personal board of directors.
  • Gain
    experience with a blue chip company in an industry that you like.
  • Network now.
  • Get an international assignment.
  • Go through a sales rotation.
  • Participate in an acquisition.
  • Manage your career aggressively.
  • And
    finally (maybe the toughest one for this day and age) don’t change
    companies too frequently – loyalty counts.

Thinking through this advice, I feel it’s important to figure out
WHY you want to be a CMO.  If you like creating ads but don’t like
numbers, shoot for VP of Advertising and love your job.  If you enjoy
focusing on a single market, work towards managing a regionally-focused
subsidiary company.  If you have brilliant ideas but don’t want to
manage people…become a consultant!

Being: Peter Kim