‘Marketing talent pool is drying’

The number of young marketers capable of growing the influence of marketing in companies could fall in the future because of fewer “marketing universities” operated by FMCG giants, according to former marketers who have stepped up to the c-suite.


At a session discussing marketing’s influence in the boardroom at ISBA’s annual conference yesterday (13 March) speakers discussed the talents, skills and experience marketers need to be equipped with to move to management positions in a company.

Steve Langan, managing director and group marketing director of insurer Hiscox and former Diageo country head, said he was “worried about the future talent pool” because mergers, consolidation and companies changing domicile had meant there were fewer “marketing universities” where future marketing leaders can start their careers. He cited Cadbury and Rowntree Mackintosh as examples.

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail and former Procter and Gamble marketing director, claimed the volume of graduate opportunities at FMCG giants Unilever and P&G were fewer than they were. As a result, he added, “people need to piece” the experience they would have gained together themselves.

Meanwhile, marketers with ambitions to move in to executive positions were told they need to obtain a breadth of commercial experience to progress.

Jeremy Schwartz, managing director of L’Oreal UK and Ireland and former Coca-Cola, Sainsbury’s and News International marketer, said: “We are often in a rush to progress but more sideways movement to gain experience of commercial areas are required to get on”.

Alan McWalter, a former Marks and Spencer group marketing director who is now non-executive director of several companies, says that marketers need to align the process of marketing with supporting top line growth if the disciplines’ influence is to grow.

“There is too much talk of the intricacies of delivery and not about growth”, he added.

The comments came on the day Marketing Week revealed ISBA and the Marketing Academy are to launch a fellowship mentoring scheme, designed to equip senior marketers for the boardroom.

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