Bridging the gap between middle management and CMO level can prove a challenging path for any marketer to negotiate as they looking to take their career to the next level.
Following a number of product management and ecommerce roles at DSG International (formerly the Dixons Group), Anna Bentham joined Nationwide in 2009 as digital sales manager. Since then she has moved into marketing and strategic planning positions, bringing her analytical skills to her current role as director of strategic planning and propositions in November 2016.
Here Bentham shares her thoughts on bridging the gap between middle management and the C-suite, and how marketers are reacting to the evolving world of work.
Bridging the gap
“Much of my early career was in product management and digital performance, so bringing that skill set into a broader marketing role has been part of starting to bridge that gap between manager and CMO.
“In my view, the marketing environment and the skill sets needed for a CMO have been rapidly evolving. At its heart a CMO has always needed the creative inspiration to guide the brand and advertising. However, increasingly we are focusing on technology, data and analytics. It makes the CMO role a really interesting and unusual blend of creativity, technology and analysis.
“So maybe unusually, having come into marketing through an analytical and technical background, the challenge for me is to have confidence in my creative judgement.”
Driving for greater inclusivity
“In my experience the whole organisation [here at Nationwide] has recognised the necessity for inclusivity and diversity, not just marketing managers. But more can always be done.
“I act as a sponsor for some of our female talent and am also the chair of our Working Families network that helps to support parents at Nationwide.
“I think it is about everyone playing their part and understanding how the decisions and actions that they make can support greater inclusivity and diversity.”
The beauty of agility
“Speed to market and the ability to rapidly test and iterate are key to successful marketing delivery.
“Not everything works so if you know that your organisation is agile enough to respond quickly to opportunities and try out new things, you have a much greater chance of finding the magic ingredients.
“Having multiple campaigns running, targeting different audiences and responding to performance takes a much greater level of agility.”
The commercial and creative mix
“For me, I think the next few years are about developing the breadth of experience that I will need in the future. A CMO role is an unusual mix of commerciality and creativity – it’s an art and a science, and it means the breadth of experience that you need to be successful is quite wide ranging.
“So, I see my career progressing by gaining as much experience as possible in a range of those areas. I think what is difficult is that some of those will be more natural strengths than others.
“For me personally the commercial and analytical aspects are a bit easier, so stretching myself into some more challenging creative roles will be important.”