The hottest jobs in marketing

As big corporates tailor their marketing structures to fit new business conditions, the skills they require of marketers are also changing, reflected in the emergence of specialist jobs. Here’s how to get one.

Hottest jobs in marketing

Has your company scrapped the chief marketing officer (CMO) role and replaced it with a master storyteller, values evangelist or data translator? With multiple ways to communicate, increasing consumer power and less trust in brands, a raft of hot new roles is emerging in the marketing department that firms are looking to fill fast.

If a marketer can combine data analysis skills with the ability to explain what the numbers mean in business terms, for example, they will be in high demand, according to Louisa Loran, formerly Diageo’s marketing innovation director for Western Europe, now Global Head of Brand and Customer Insights at Maersk Line​. “They are very senior, very expensive and there are few of them,” she says.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble’s decision this month to replace the role of marketing director with that of brand director has provoked plenty of debate. While some observers regard the move as a gimmick that will change little about how the company delivers marketing, others see it as a bold decision that reflects the need to align all marketing resources behind brands.

Whatever your view, it is clear that big businesses are changing the way they talk about marketing as a profession. In P&G’s case, the move is intended to simplify management structures and shift resources from regional markets to global business units.

There are other examples of big corporates changing their marketing structures in recent months to account for new business conditions such as the explosion of big data and the rising power of the customer – Tesco and SABMiller being just two. These reorganisations present brands with the challenge of hiring the right people, and risk confusing jobseekers faced with new company structures and job titles. But with the right combination of skills and experience, these hot jobs are there for the taking.

Marketing Week polled senior marketers across a range of industries to determine which positions they most want to fill and the skills that people need in a rapidly changing profession.

Data translator

Finding analysts who can turn data into meaningful, strategic business insights is a common challenge. Loran says it is particularly difficult to find people who can both understand “the world of new data” and display “a sufficient level of strategic understanding to actually be able to guide decisions rather than just share facts”.

This is a big problem for companies such as Diageo, which requires large teams of number crunchers to provide workable insights on varying creative challenges. Loran reveals that in the past year, Diageo was forced to bring in several analysts on temporary contracts because it was unable to find enough permanent staff with the requisite skills.

“Knowing what to do with the data comes from a lot of experience,” says Loran. “I’m sure there are super-talented people out there who can do it immediately – I just haven’t found them yet.”

Mike Bugembe
Mike Bugembe, JustGiving

Some organisations have created board-level positions to meet this insight challenge. Online fundraising platform JustGiving, for example, hired Mike Bugembe as its first chief analytics officer four years ago to focus on extracting value from the wealth of data it holds on its users.

“We realised we needed a lot more executive muscle to generate the value that we expected from the data out there. So it was important this role had a place on the leadership board,” he says.

“I was JustGiving’s first chief analytics officer. It needed executive muscle to generate value from the data out there”

Mike Bugembe, JustGiving

Bugembe says the role differs from that of chief data officer because of the responsibility to find answers to wider business challenges. It also supports efforts by JustGiving to move beyond traditional customer segmentation and instead target users as individuals.

“There are marketers asking ‘How can I retain customers and increase lifetime value by having a more thorough understanding of an individual?’ That’s where [my role] comes in,” he says.

While the position is fairly common in the US, it is a rarity in the UK, although Bugembe is aware of a number of companies that aim to introduce it soon. Like Loran, he highlights the lack of candidates who can work with data and find the “nuggets of gold” to support a company’s growth strategy. “The difficulty is finding one individual who can cover both spectrums,” he says.

How to get the job:

Focus on your ability to analyse marketing and other data and clearly explain to a business what the findings mean. Have a background in analytics combined with a more ‘human’ role, such as school governor.

Master storyteller

The rise of content as a central marketing tool has also led to the growth of specialist job titles. Earlier this month, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust advertised for the role of ‘Master storyteller’. The charity is seeking people to tell stories that grab “attention and emotions” and who can “inspire the many” to join the fight against cystic fibrosis. “As the No 1 storyteller, you’re a maverick and a mould breaker,” the job listing states. “You tackle every brief with a ‘What if?’.” Applicants are asked to send a two-minute video clip entitled ‘The day cystic fibrosis was beaten for good’ with their CV.

Amy Howell
Amy Howell, Country Attire

Storytelling is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing operation. Amy Howell, content and social media editor at online fashion website Country Attire, says her dual role combines storytelling and content creation with managing the brand’s presence across social networks. “The content side ranges from things such as product descriptions and landing page content to any kind of written content that needs to be used for PR and marketing purposes,” she says.

“I have a dual-role – storytelling and content creation alongside managing social networks. I’m the brand’s voice”

Amy Howell, Country Attire

Howell was previously deputy ecommerce co-ordinator before the company decided to harness her English degree for more specific content purposes. Her current focus includes generating content for social media to coincide with the music festival season, when people often buy outdoor fashion items.

“I call Amy our voice,” says Jenny Parker, marketing director at Country Attire. “She sets the tone and it’s all about consistency of message across our written content.”

How to get the job:

Be a great content strategist and know how to execute it across multiple formats. Former journalists who can apply their experience to a business will do well.

Chief Customer Officer

Several big UK retailers have introduced this role. Last month, Tesco assigned the position to Jill Easterbrook, formerly director of developing businesses at the supermarket chain. This was part of a wider management overhaul where CMO Matt Atkinson took on the new position of chief creative officer. While Atkinson is responsible for product and service innovation, group marketing strategy falls to Easterbrook with a brief to ensure all activity is relevant and tailored around customers.

Similarly, Asda CMO Stephen Smith was given the newly created role of chief customer officer in March. This enhanced position combines marketing with ‘format development’ across the retailer’s stores. According to chief executive Andy Clarke, this will enable Asda “to move closer to being a truly customer-centric omnichannel business in which all growth strategy and proposition-related decisions will be made with the customer at heart”.

Dene Jones, customer director at online retailer Shop Direct, believes that consumers increasingly expect a “full, coherent contact strategy across their whole journey”. He became the company’s first customer director when he joined in September last year.

“It’s important to have a good general knowledge across the whole customer journey”

Dene Jones, Shop Direct

“When I arrived, I asked ‘Who owns the customer?’ and the response was ‘We all do’,” he recalls. “That doesn’t really work because once a particular function in the business finishes its part of the journey, it naturally expects someone else to pick up the rest.”

Jones says the business is now much better equipped to meet customer expectations because his role has “360-degree accountability across the whole customer journey”. He also has group-wide responsibility for data so that Shop Direct can target its marketing to individual customers.

Dene Jones
Dene Jones, Shop Direct

He believes that applicants for customer director roles need a solid background in data and strong commercial acumen. Prior to joining Shop Direct, Jones was CMO of gambling site Full Tilt Poker.

“It’s important to have a good general knowledge across the whole customer journey, so having someone who’s purely focused on marketing isn’t enough,” he says.

How to get the job:

Have a ruthless focus on customers and convince the boss that ‘customer-centric’ is not just a piece of jargon. Likely to have a customer service or marketing background.

Values evangelist

This role – called ‘Head of brand, reputation and citizenship’ at Barclays and held by David Wheldon – applies to people who can articulate what the brand stands for to the outside world and defend its reputation. Last year, a number of big brands faced criticism for a range of practices including tax avoidance and unethical manufacturing processes.

Some companies have handed responsibility for external engagement to senior executives. In March, the Co-operative Group reacted to the various scandals that have rocked the organisation by removing the role held by marketing director Gill Barr from the executive board and handing new powers to chief external affairs officer Nick Folland. The Co-op said the move would help it communicate in “a more joined-up way”.

However, such roles are not necessarily reactive or defensive. Dave Coplin became Microsoft’s UK chief envisioning officer in 2010 with a brief to communicate the role of the company’s technology to all external stakeholders, including consumers, the press and the Government.

Coplin says this role is not about products or services but communicating a wider vision of Microsoft’s place in the world and the benefits of technology to society. His duties include speaking at industry events, contributing to policy debates and briefing the mainstream media.

“The role exists because in our industry the focus always defaults to the technology itself,” he says. “It’s usually about showing people the next shiny thing, when in reality it’s much more important to talk about the outcomes that the technology affords. We created this position to give us a platform to tell that story.”

Coplin calls the chief envisioning officer role his “night job”: an extra responsibility beyond his day job in Microsoft’s search and advertising business. He says all companies should encourage their employees to engage more deeply with their brands and even act as brand advocates.

“There’s an opportunity for all organisations to expose the humanity of their brands,” he says. “Social media is all about human engagement and in today’s business environment, companies can build a culture that supports and encourages individuals to be visible on behalf of their brand.”

How to get the job:

Think broad and big and understand why a brand’s purpose is important. Bring PR, marketing and negotiating skills to the role.


According to a recent study by Accenture, marketing is changing at an “unprecedented rate” with more than a third of senior marketing executives expecting digital to account for 75 per cent of their budgets within the next five years. The survey of over 580 senior marketers globally also finds that 78 per cent believe marketing will “undergo fundamental changes” during the period, with analytics, digital and mobile highlighted as the key drivers.

Talk of digital upheaval is nothing new but the study highlights the extent to which digital skills are now an essential part of all marketing roles. Loran says it remains difficult to find marketers who are able to combine solid brand marketing skills with digital understanding.

Marks and Spencer's
An all-encompassing digital role emerged at Marks & Spencer last month as the executive director of multichannel was handed additional responsibilities for all UK retail channels

“The people who have specialised in digital have had great job opportunities so why would they go abroad?” she asks. “As digital teams have grown, only a few brand marketers have developed the necessary digital skills because they have been let off the hook. It’s a big problem, but not one that many will own up to because most marketers would say ‘I understand digital’.”

Martin Riley, CMO of Pernod Ricard, agrees that digital experience and understanding should be integrated into all marketing roles. The drinks group restructured its marketing teams last year in a move away from mass-targeted campaigns in favour of one-to-one interactions with consumers on mobile and social media.

“As digital teams have grown, only a few brand marketers have developed the necessary digital skills”

Louisa Loran, Diaego

“As we define the marketing roles of the future, we can take general roles and specialist roles as a basis but we need to encourage specialists to gain a broad understanding of the business and the commercial aspects of what marketing is seeking to achieve overall, and to encourage generalists to gain a deeper understanding and hands-on experience of generating insights, innovation and creativity,” says Riley.

This all-encompassing digital role emerged at Marks & Spencer last month as executive director of multichannel Laura Wade-Gery was handed additional responsibilities for all UK retail channels. Although Wade-Gery’s job title is unchanged, the move means she has oversight for the company’s entire retail presence across stores, online and mobile. This will help M&S to develop “one view of the customer”, the company says.

How to get the job:

Be either a digital native or a brilliant marketer with solid knowledge of SEO, analytics and mobile.

Hot jobs for junior talent


Values evangelist
Microsoft’s UK chief envisioning officer is tasked with communicating the role of the company’s technology to all external stakeholders

Senior marketers are keen to hire young talent. According to a recent survey commissioned by recruitment consultants Robert Walters, nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of companies plan to hire mainly permanent marketers over the next six months. Of these, 69 per cent want to bring in junior or entry level recruits.

The findings appear to reflect rising business confidence and an awareness of the need to bring younger and more culturally diverse people into organisations. However the poll of 106 hiring managers in different sectors also shows that over 40 per cent are concerned about a lack of skills among applicants.

The Government aims to tackle this through its Create UK scheme, launched earlier this month by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Facebook’s EMEA boss Nicola Mendelsohn. The scheme, which includes a £16m skills fund to invest in apprenticeships and training, aims to put the creative industries at the heart of the UK’s economic growth.

Katrina McCreadie, partner at f1 recruitment, which specialises in marcoms and sponsorship roles, says young jobseekers are often unaware of the opportunities to work for brands in data-led jobs. She suggests that people who can combine skills in both the arts and sciences excel at making “creative use of data” by helping brands draw out trends and tell stories.

“We have channelled a lot of young people into a role that is analytical or research-based,” says McCreadie. “When many of those people initially came to us, though, they had no idea it was an option for them.”

Brands are also developing their own marketing talent. Mars reports that its internal ‘marketing college’ provided almost 30,000 hours of training globally last year through online and face-to-face sessions.

“Our mentoring scheme is also a great asset to ensure that more junior members of our team can benefit from the experience and advice of those of us who’ve been around a little longer,” says Michael Magee, vice-president of marketing at Mars Chocolate UK.

What CMOs want

Matthew Barwell, CMO, Britvic: “As Britvic looks to extend into new territories, marketers who understand how to grow brands across different cultures and who can help internationalise our business will stand out. We also value people who have great experience in developing and executing outstanding work across multiple channels in a digital environment.”

Michael Magee, vice-president of marketing, Mars Chocolate UK: “It’s more challenging to find people for our more senior roles because we are searching for the perfect balance of brand and commercial acumen, and that’s a rarer skill. We encourage our marketers to get experience in supply or commercial functions, for example, so that they can bring that wider understanding and their commercial skills back to the team.”

Martin Riley, CMO, Pernod Ricard: “We are keen to recruit people who have digital experience in the areas of community management in order to build and support relationships with people who share an interest in activities that our individual brands are involved in. Other roles relating to digital specialist skills in CRM and ecommerce as well as data analytics are areas we are looking at.”



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