CMOs (not CFOs) are the natural choice for CEO
Editorial

CMOs (not CFOs) are the natural choice for CEO

In a rapidly evolving, globalised world, marketing needs to take its seat at the top table to drive business growth. 

On 27 March 2017, in a committee room at the House of Commons, The Debating Group – of which CIM is a sponsor – will debate the motion: “In an increasingly customer-led world, CMOs (not CFOs) are the natural choice for CEO.” It’s a thought-provoking question for marketers who are seeking to develop their careers.

The Debating Group has been holding debates in the House of Commons since 1975 – bringing marketers, politicians, journalists and the public together to discuss topical issues that surround marketing – and this year’s CIM-sponsored motion recognises that, in a global world, marketing is well-placed to provide the future leaders of organisations.

As a bridge between the consumer and boardroom, and as the pivot between the creative thinkers and the data scientists, marketers are ever more critical to business success. CMOs are an organisation’s customer champions, owning the customer journey and experience, and with the access to customer insights and data that can help identify operational, product or service issues that need addressing.

CMOs are indeed well-placed to become tomorrow’s CEOs. Getting there, however, means leading change – building the case for it, and creating a culture so that it can be implemented. Such change necessitates a full appraisal of the market dynamics and business drivers relevant to the organisation and the industry sector, understanding the needs of global customers, and being able to recommend how organisational competence can be developed to deliver future objectives. It also means building partnerships, and demonstrating how they can be used strategically to leverage organisational success.

“Professional marketing is a vital driver for business growth,” says Maria Heckel, marketing director of CIM. “For businesses to fully reap its benefits, strategic marketing professionals need a firm seat at the top table. To secure this seat and become the business leaders of the future, today’s marketers need to develop a much wider range of business skills. Whereas years ago professional development may have focused mostly on theory and how to interpret data, now marketers need to understand how to lead from the front.

“Businesses are not just looking for their marketers to be creative, interpret analytics and successfully operate in a digital world. They more critically need them to lead change, manage people and projects, and have the skills and ability to collaborate, innovate and influence across the business – no matter how challenging the climate.”

Owen Tebbutt, head of marketing at IBM Global Business Services, UK and Ireland, who has helped CIM develop its Marketing Leadership Programme, says: “At a time where marketing is becoming even more critical to business success – and also a time where the profession itself is evolving so rapidly – it is vital for marketing professionals to maintain a razor sharp focus on personal and skills development.”

The world is changing fast, and senior marketers need to be at the forefront of its emerging future.

If you'd like to attend the debate and have your say on the motion, book your place here.

Steve Woolley Head of External Affairs CIM
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