No one is closer to a customer’s path to purchase than the chief marketing officer. And that, in turn, has set the CMO on the path to a company’s top spot.

It would be hard to find an industry that has not felt the disruption of digital. Consumers and business customers alike expect more immediate, relevant and personalised experiences. As gatekeepers to the consumer data that fuels strategic insights, CMOs, in essence, serve as their voice.

In a recent poll, 35% of CMOs have set their sights on the top general management role, a dream that’s increasingly becoming a reality. Last year’s appointment of CMO Paul J Hennessey to CEO of and McDonald’s promotion of Chief Branding Office Steve Easterbrook to the top spot are just a couple of the latest in a string of marketers-turned-CEOs at top brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Citigroup and Campbell Soup.

The responsibilities of today’s data-driven marketers have grown from building brand awareness to creating transformative brand engagements – and that goes way beyond delivering marketing messages. Successful CMOs are taking control of the C-suite to deliver on a brand’s promise and drive profitable business growth.

CMOs are partnering with CFOs to account for marketing investments. They are collaborating with CIOs to inform the technology, systems and processes needed to win, serve and retain customers. They are working with the heads of sales to increase the quality and speed of information. And they are reaching out to R&D leaders to inform innovative offerings to meet ever-evolving customer needs and desires.

The versatility and influence of this next generation of CMOs brings a diversified skillset to the C-suite table: strategic vision, advanced analytical capabilities, financial management, technology and operational savviness, in addition to the superior communication skills that are the mainstay of marketing. By building stronger ties across the entire organisation, CMOs have positioned themselves to be at the centre of business transformation -- and this is their stepping stone to the CEO.


By Nick McCarthy, managing director UK and EMEA at Signal

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