The skills CMOs must invest in today to ensure they stay at the top

With the marketing landscape evolving at pace, marketing leaders must never stop learning if they want to still be at the top of their game in years to come.

Marketers must continually invest in learning to ensure they have the skills they need to remain at the top of their game and inspire those they manage, particularly as the marketing landscape evolves. Training should not be something marketers stop doing the further up the ladder they climb.

That’s the view of Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed, who says marketing leaders often get distracted by day-to-day business tasks and forget the importance of refreshing skills and capabilities.

“It’s remarkable that if you’re in a football team you totally accept that you have to build skills, you have a coach, you do training, but when you get into business it seems training is something you fit in, or real business is doing meetings and answering emails, when actually in today’s world making sure your skills and capabilities are cutting edge is more important than ever before,” he says.

Weed was one of a number of CMOs who joined Marketing Week at an event held by Oystercatchers to discuss the biggest challenges facing marketing leaders today.

READ MORE: For more coverage of the Oystercatchers leadership event, click here

Like Weed, Diageo’s CMO Syl Saller believes marketers should never shy away from investing in coaching and line management, as well as ensuring there are enough women rising to the top of the profession.

It’s remarkable that if you’re in a football team you totally accept that you have to build skills, you have a coach, you do training, but when you get into business it seems training is something you fit in.

Keith Weed, Unilever

“Our business can only grow as much as our leadership grows and one of the great ways to really grow leadership is by coaching your people to achieve things they never could imagine,” she says.

Nurturing teams in this way is going to become ever more important as the marketing landscape continues to fragment and evolve.

When it comes to more specific skills, Alex Naylor, Barclaycard’s marketing director says although it sounds obvious, leaders must get their heads around digital, data and technology given how quickly business models are being disrupted, because “unless you understand what’s possible you’ll get left behind”.

But marketers shouldn’t ignore more traditional channels like TV, according to Pete Markey, who is soon to take over as CMO of TSB Bank.

For more from these top marketers, as well as O2’s CMO Nina Bibby, Centrica’s group CMO Margaret Jobling, and Richard Taylor, outgoing executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, watch the video above.

All of these marketers will also feature in a photography exhibition curated by Oystercatchers and shot by renowned photographer Rankin as part of the C-suite leadership programme at the Festival of Marketing on 10 and 11 October. For more information and to buy tickets go to

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Dom Graham 25 Sep 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Basically this article was a drawn out way of saying “you need to keep learning”…

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