RRA research shows marketing leaders have only a 20 percent chance of moving into the CMO role at their existing company — and once appointed as CMO, they have only a 20 percent chance of being internally promoted to a broader role. We look at which industries are most likely to hire externally, and where the chances of being promoted internally are the highest.
The 80-20 Rule of CMO Promotions Helps Explain Why Marketers Are Seen As Being Too “Jumpy”
Non-marketers often think that CMOs change jobs too much. Though there are several factors that come into play, at Russell Reynolds we’ve uncovered one possible reason for this “ jumpiness.” We’ve found that marketing leaders have only a 20 percent chance of moving into the CMO role at their existing company. Once appointed as CMO, s/he has only a 20 percent chance of being internally promoted to a broader role within that company, such as GM or President. This means that 80 percent of all marketing moves happen only by moving to a different company – basically, implying the need to “ jump” jobs to get ahead.
CMO succession crisis persists. Nearly 80 percent of publiclyreported chief marketing officer appointments in 2018 were external hires, consistent with the previous year. Just one of every five new CMOs came from within the ranks, which paints a grim picture of internal development processes for marketing talent.
Among sitting CMOs, nearly 80 percent have left their respective company to advance their career. There is little chance of sitting CMOs being internally promoted into a broader role.
Record turnover continues. In 2018, we tracked 396 publicly-reported CMO moves in the United States & Canada. This is the highest number we have observed since we began tracking this data in 2014. In 2017, there were 377 CMO moves and 350 in 2016.
Gender diversity growth is stagnant. 42 percent of 2018 CMO appointments were female, which is relatively constant over the last three years.
Healthcare companies go external almost exclusively. 90 percent of healthcare CMO appointments were external hires in 2018. While healthcare organizations have historically steep rates of appointing outside CMOs – 79 percent in 2017, 76 percent in 2016 and 71 percent in 2015 – this was a new high.
Inter-industry mobility showing mixed results. Last year, 31 percent of external CMOs came from a different industry, up from 27 percent in 2017, but down from 33 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015. The consumer and technology industries remain most likely to hire marketing leaders from within their respective industries. Industrial & natural resources organizations are increasingly following their leads. Within healthcare, despite an overwhelming proportion of external CMO appointments, only a slight majority came from a different industry (58 percent).
Marketers moving on up. Sitting CMOs are moving into general manager, president and CEO roles at higher rates than ever before, suggesting the CMO has increasingly gained commercial and strategic impact. Though a slightly greater proportion of CMOs stepped into the aforementioned P&L roles at a new company rather than at the same company in 2018 – 19 versus 17 percent – the overall number of CMOs moving into these larger roles (36 percent) is up from 32 percent in 2017 and 19 percent in 2016.
Industry Breakdown of Marketing Moves
The consumer industry accounted for 54 percent of the marketing-leadership turnover in 2018, up from 52 percent in 2017 and 51 percent in 2016. In 2015, the consumer digital & media sector had over twice as many moves as the retail sector, but three years later, retail has surpassed consumer digital & media in CMO turnover. This demonstrates the increased volatility among retail marketing leaders in the past couple of years, as the industry seeks to redefine itself. The consumer products & services sector had the largest year-over-year increase from 9 percent in 2017 to 13 percent in 2018.
Since 2015 the technology industry has fallen 5 percentage points in terms of marketing move-share, while the healthcare industry has gained 4 percentage points.
Internal vs. External Hires
The trend of externally hiring top marketers continued strongly last year as external appointments accounted for 74 percent of all marketing moves (and 79 percent of all marketing leader appointments). This mirrored 2017 levels and increased from 2015 and 2016. With just one of every five CMOs appointed from within the organization over the last two years, there is a clear CMO succession crisis across industries.
Since 2015, healthcare companies have been increasingly looking for marketing leadership outside of the organization. Last year, they did so 90 percent of the time, a sizeable increase from 79 percent in 2017. Looking over the last four years, the healthcare industry has an 82 percent external appointment rate for CMOs. Contrarily, the industrial & natural resources industry saw a sizeable decrease in external marketing-leader appointments from 2017 to 2018 – 81 percent to 63 percent – which is consistent with the number in 2016 (60 percent).
Regarding internal appointments, the average tenure within an organization prior to promotion to the CMO role increased in 2018 following several years of decline. Across all industries, the average internally-appointed CMO spent 9.1 years at their respective company prior being promoted into the role. This is up from 7.4 years in 2017 and 8.2 years in 2016, but down from 10.7 years in 2015. Later in this report, we look at the average tenure in the CMO role prior to promotion or departure.
Inside of Industry vs. Outside of Industry Appointments
In today’s age of disruption and transformation, it is reasonable to expect that more companies would be open to hiring marketing leaders with different perspectives from other industries. Though the overall numbers demonstrate a slight increase in this tactic – 31 percent in 2018 versus 27 percent in 2017 – few industries have made a significant shift in this direction and some are moving in reverse.
When looking outside of the organization, consumer and technology businesses have maintained a strong tendency to appoint CMOs from companies within their respective industries. Consumer companies hired marketing leaders from outside the industry 22 percent of the time in 2018 and 19 percent over the last four years. Technology organizations did so 29 percent of the time in 2018 and 28 percent over the last four years.
The industrial & natural resources industry has seen a massive decrease in appointing CMOs from outside of the industry over the last four years. In 2015, 83 percent of new CMOs came from outside the industry and it has decreased every year since, down to just 40 percent in 2018.
There was a slight decrease in healthcare marketing leaders coming from different industries, as well. In 2018, 58 percent of healthcare companies appointed CMOs from outside of the industry, down from 73 percent in 2017, 77 percent in 2016 and 60 percent in 2015. However, in the last four years, the healthcare industry has the highest rate of cross-industry CMO appointments at 64 percent.
Inside of Sector vs. Outside of Sector Appointments within Consumer
Consumer-facing companies have continuously had a majority in overall marketing moves. Taking into account the individual sectors – apparel / retail, consumer digital & media, consumer products & services and leisure & hospitality – 54 percent of external marketing-leader appointments within the consumer industry came from a different sector. This is the highest proportion we have recorded since 2015.
The apparel / retail sector is the only one in which the majority of new CMOs did not come from another sector – yet the 47 percent posted in 2018 shows a steady increase from 2016. One of the most surprising trends was among consumer products & services organizations. Though they are known for grooming marketers into future CMOs, 58 percent of their external CMO appointments came from a different sector in 2018, a large increase from 27 percent in 2017 and 24 percent in 2016. The result of CPG companies needing to quickly reinvent themselves is being seen in the non-CPG talent they are aggressively hiring into marketing leadership roles.
Where Do Sitting Chief Marketing Officers Go?
Marketing leadership appointments show one side of the story for chief marketing officers, but it is also interesting to see where siting CMOs go after they leave their role (i.e., joining a new company, being internally promoted, retiring, consulting/advising or undisclosed). To gain more insight into next steps for marketing leaders, we tracked and analyzed the career paths of 82 outgoing CMOs in 2018, for a grand total of 314 since 2016.
Over the last three years, 54 percent of those CMOs are now at a new company, while 19 percent were promoted within their respective companies. In 2018, however, 22 percent were promoted, which is an increase from 20 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2016.
In general, a marketing leader has approximately a 20 percent chance of getting the CMO role at their company and once appointed as CMO, s/he has around a 20 percent chance of being internally promoted to a broader role. Overall, 80 percent of marketing moves happen externally.
Tenure for CMOs dipped in 2018, both for those who left their company and for those who were promoted. Overall, the average tenure for outgoing CMOs last year was 3.2 years, down from 4 years in both 2016 and 2017. For those who joined a new company, the average CMO tenure was slightly lower: 2.9 years in 2018 – down from 3.2 years in 2017 and 3.7 years in 2016. Promoted CMOs have a higher average tenure but saw a similar year-over-year decrease to 3.6 years in 2018 from 41 years in 2017 and 4.4 years in 2016.
Among the outgoing CMOs who joined a new company, the majority continue to take another marketing job. This demonstrates the “repetitive CMO cycle” of marketers getting stuck in the top marketing role at different companies.
As noted previously, however, bright spots include a relatively big increase in those being appointed to a general manager, president or chief executive officer role at their new companies – 28 percent in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2017 and 17 percent in 2016. We also observed a slight increase in those stepping into a digital role – 6 percent in 2018, up from 5 percent in 2017 and 2 percent in 2016.
Among the CMOs who were internally promoted, half of them were promoted to a president or general manager role in the last two years. Additionally, both digital roles and strategy & innovation roles have been an increasingly common next step for CMOs, as each consisted of 17 percent of CMOs who were promoted in 2018.
Given that most organizations need customer-centric leadership to help them stay ahead of the rapid pace of change, marketers seem to be emerging as more attractive candidates for broader roles. Both through internal promotion and external appointment, outgoing CMOs were appointed to general manager, president and chief executive officer roles more than ever before in 2018, suggesting the CMO has increasingly gained commercial and strategic relevance.
In 2018, 36 percent of sitting CMOs’ next job was a general manager, president and chief executive officer role – up from 32 percent in 2017 and 19 percent in 2016. Although a slightly higher percentage of CMOs stepped into the aforementioned P&L roles at a new company rather than at the same company, – 19 versus 17 percent in 2018; 16 percent versus 11 percent over the last three years – the year-over-year increases suggest that the odds of breaking out of the “repetitive CMO cycle” are trending in the right direction for marketers.
See below for details on the full list of marketing moves from Q3-Q4 2018. For details on the moves from Q1-Q2 2018, see our previous report from August 2018: Want to be a CMO? Odds are you’ll need to change companies, as the “CMO Succession Crisis” continues.
APPAREL / RETAIL
Ace Hardware has appointed Kim Lefko as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Lefko is responsible for global marketing & advertising efforts, digital initiatives and the development of innovative strategies. She most recently was chief marketing officer & general manager, iGrill, at Weber-Stephen Products.
Ascena Retail Group has appointed Susan Rodgers as senior vice president, marketing. Rodgers most recently was vice president, marketing, customer relationship management & analytics, at Pier 1 Imports.
Bluemercury has appointed Michele Dowling Johnson as senior vice president, marketing, digital & eCommerce. Johnson most recently was senior vice president, sales & marketing, at Dean & DeLuca.
Bluestem Brands has appointed Paul Lazorisak as senior vice president, marketing. Lazorisak most recently was vice president, customer relationship management & analytics, at Talbots.
Bottega Veneta saw the departure of its chief marketing officer, Lisa Pomerantz.
Burberry has appointed Rod Manley as chief marketing officer. Manley is responsible for marketing, communications and creative media. He most recently was executive vice president, influence marketing & communications, at Calvin Klein.
Cardenas Markets has appointed Adam Salgado as chief marketing officer. Salgado most recently was vice president, multicultural & field marketing, at McDonald's.
Charming Charlie has appointed Joy Garcia as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Garcia most recently was group vice president, customer & brand marketing, at Stage Stores.
DXL Group has appointed Jim Davey as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Davey most recently was vice president, marketing, at Timberland.
Ethan Allen Global has appointed Holly Tedesco as senior vice president, global marketing. Tedesco is responsible for leading digital, brand marketing, and communications strategies. She most recently was vice president, head of marketing, at Ann Taylor.
For Eyes by GrandVision has appointed Lauren Macleod as chief marketing officer. Macleod most recently was vice president, digital experience & head of the Retail Lab, at Starboard Cruise Services.
J. Crew saw the departure of its chief marketing officer, Vanessa Holden.
Keds saw the departure of its chief marketing officer, Emily Culp, who is now president at CoverFX Skincare.
Kroger has appointed Gil Phipps as vice president, branding, marketing & Our Brands. Phipps most recently was vice president, Our Brands, at the Company.
Lacoste USA has appointed Lisa Marie Pillette as senior vice president, marketing, customer relationship management & analytics. Pillette previously was vice president, direct-to-consumer marketing – Americas, at Ralph Lauren.
Levi Strauss & Co. has appointed Jen Sey as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Sey most recently was chief marketing officer, global brands, at the Company.
MedMen has appointed David Dancer as chief marketing officer. Dancer most recently was executive vice president, head of marketing, at Teleflora.
Michael Kors has appointed Johanna Murphy as senior vice president, consumer marketing & global digital commerce. Murphy most recently was global chief marketing officer at Rag & Bone.
Monro has appointed Deborah Brundage as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Brundage is responsible for marketing & merchandising strategies, comprising of brand management, advertising, customer relationship management, in-store merchandising and category management. She most recently was associate brand director, Always Discreet – North America, at Procter & Gamble.
Petco has appointed Tariq Hassan as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Hassan most recently was senior vice president, enterprise brand strategy & insights and head of marketing, Wealth Management, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
REI has appointed Ben Steele as executive vice president and chief customer officer. Steele is responsible for all digital, marketing, brand and customer insights capabilities. He most recently was chief creative officer at the Company.
Saucony has appointed Don Lane as chief marketing officer. Lane most recently was senior vice president, brand & creative, at DraftKings.
Sorel has appointed Natalie Hayes as vice president, global brand marketing & eCommerce marketing – North America. Hayes most recently was global brand director at the Company.
Vitamin Shoppe has appointed David Mock as executive vice president and chief merchandising & marketing officer. Mock previously was chief merchandising & marketing officer at Earth Fare.
Wakefern Food Corporation has appointed Erik Keptner as senior vice president, marketing. Keptner most recently was senior vice president, marketing & merchandising, at Giant Food Stores.
Walgreens Boots Alliance has appointed Vineet Mehra as global chief marketing officer. Mehra is responsible for all marketing activities, fostering global marketing collaboration across business and geographies, overseeing the design & execution of the Company's global brand image, messaging & positioning and developing the customer value proposition. He most recently was executive vice president and global chief marketing officer at Ancestry.
Under Armour has appointed Alessandro de Pestel as chief marketing officer. De Pestel most recently was vice president, global marketing, communications & consumer insights, at Tommy Hilfiger.
CONSUMER DIGITAL & MEDIA
Airbnb has appointed Geoff Seeley as global marketing director. Seeley most recently was director, global marketing, connections & media activation, at the Company. Additionally, Airbnb has appointed Musa Tariq as global head of marketing, Airbnb Experiences. Tariq most recently was chief brand officer at Ford Motor Company.
Blue Nile has appointed Alexandra Wheeler as chief marketing officer. Wheeler most recently was vice president, global digital marketing & Starbucks Rewards marketing, at Starbucks.
Bonobos has appointed Eric Solomon as chief marketing officer. Solomon most recently was global head of business marketing at Instagram.
Boxed saw the departure of its chief marketing officer, Jackson Jeyanayagam, who is now vice president and general manager, Nutranext, at Clorox.
Chef'd has appointed JR Badian as chief marketing officer. Badian most recently was vice president, digital marketing, social media & customer relationship management, at Mastercard.
Elite SEM has appointed Dalton Dorné as chief marketing officer. Dorné is responsible for building out a newly formed marketing department and launching a customer-centric program to drive new customer acquisition, demand generation, account-based marketing and client growth. She most recently was senior vice president, marketing – Americas, at Merkle.
ESPN has appointed Laura Gentile as senior vice president, marketing. Gentile most recently was senior vice president, business operations & content strategy – ESPNW, at the Company.
Facebook has appointed Antonio Lucio as global chief marketing officer. Lucio most recently was global chief marketing & communications officer at HP.
Fox Entertainment has appointed Steve Fowler as chief marketing officer, FoxNext Games. Fowler is responsible for leading the overall marketing strategy, product & lifecycle marketing, creative services, user acquisition, customer service and communications. He most recently was vice president, global publishing – Hearthstone, at Blizzard Entertainment.
Ketchum has appointed Chris Ditner as senior vice president, marketing. Ditner most recently was senior vice president, director of content marketing – Global Practices, at the Company.
Lyft has appointed Joy Howard as chief marketing officer. Howard most recently was chief marketing officer at Sonos.
New York Public Radio has appointed Lisa Baird as chief marketing officer. Baird is responsible for leading marketing & audience development, data, membership, sponsorship and communications. She most recently was chief marketing officer at the United States Olympic Committee.