‘Think like a CEO to become a CMO’

Marketing directors that want to step up to become chief marketing officers need to understand how all areas of the business work, according to several that have successfully made the jump.

Boardroom CMO

CMOs taking part in a panel discussion hosted by Marketing Week say aspiring director-level marketers eyeing the top job need to look beyond brand and marketing strategy and think like their counterparts in information, finance and technology.

Nick Eades, who moved from being vice president of marketing at Nortel to become CMO of Psion, says: “You have to think like the chief executive, worry like the chief financial officer, understand digital like the chief information officer, and have the presence of the sales leader.

“Yes, you have to be the voice of the customer, yes you have to understand your market, and your product, and your competitors, but if you can’t be respected in the boardroom for your broader thinking – and especially, strategic thinking – then it might not be for you.”

The ability to think beyond brand strategy is necessary to become a successful CMO, it is argued.

Eduardo Conrado, senior vice president and CMO of Motorola, says sitting on the executive team in an organisation means expectations of your performance increase.

He adds: “It is not just about revenue generation and positioning the portfolio but about having a point of view across multiple topics: product portfolio, strategic direction, acquisitions, human resources. The CMO has a view on customer needs, ever-changing markets and how the portfolio addresses those needs.”

Barnaby Dawe, who recently became publisher HarperCollins’ first CMO when he joined from fellow News Corporation business News International where he was marketing director, says his role is now more strategic.

“As a CMO you are responsible for all disciplines across all brands. At HarperCollins my role stretches across our seven operating divisions, each with their own marketing teams. I will create an overarching vision and strategy for the group to give each division more firepower,” he adds.

Read more on the challenges of being a CMO in the 29 March issue of Marketing Week.

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