‘It literally makes no sense’: Facebook’s top marketer questions why so few CMOs become CEO

Philippa Snare, Facebook’s head of EMEA marketing, says marketers must aim higher because their resilience and experience means they are in a great position to lead successful businesses.


More must be done to increase the pipeline of marketers that move on to become CEOs. That was the rallying cry of Philippa Snare, Facebook’s head of EMEA marketing group, talking at Advertising Week Europe this morning (18 March).

She cited recent data that shows it’s 36% more likely that somebody in sales or finance will go on to become a company’s next managing director or CEO than a marketer, which she said “literally makes no sense”.

Snare highlighted McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook and Tesco CEO Dave Lewis as two examples of marketers who have successfully made the transition but said there are not enough stories like this. However, she is hopeful things are starting to change as not only does marketing create great leaders, it creates “resilient leaders”, which will be all the more critical going forward.

“I know from being at Microsoft and now Facebook that you can go from hero to villain very quickly, and back again, but I also know that marketing is a test bed for the most incredible leaders,” she said.

“There’s a very strong pool of female leadership; you get to learn how to manage the top line as well as how to grow the bottom line [and] you become an expert in figuring out how to drive employee moral. It’s not just leaders it creates in marketing, it creates resilient leaders.”

She believes opportunities created by artificial intelligence, augmented reality and voice will also help accelerate marketers’ transition into general management as they are effectively marketing opportunities and often led by innovative thinkers who sit in marketing.

“We need to think broader than we’ve ever thought before, we need to think deeper than we’ve ever thought before and we need to think far, far further ahead than anybody else in the business that we work in,” she concluded.

“Next year when we’re here together I’d really like to be overwhelmed by the number of examples that I can point to where someone in marketing is now leading their business. I want to be inundated with examples that you have made because you’ve got that promotion and you’ve had the courage to go around and share it with other marketers and show the power that marketing can have on the world and on business.”