CMO Hirings Set Record Pace, Even During the Pandemic

More CEOs are looking for external candidates and compensation packages have bounced back, according to executive headhunters

Ad Age | September 29, 2020

The Ad Age article, “CMO Hirings Set Record Pace, Even During the Pandemic,” featured findings from the Russell Reynolds Associates paper, “Marketing Moves: H1 2020.” The article is excerpted below.

Even the pandemic cannot stop chief marketing officer turnover. There were 243 publicly announced marketing executive moves in the first half of the year, up from 209 in the same period of 2019, according to executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. That amounts to a record number of hirings since the firm began tracking moves in 2013.

The trend shows that despite shrinking marketing budgets and uncertain times, CEOs are not afraid to make changes at the top of marketing departments, even if that means handling job searches virtually. And often, CEOs are looking to the outside for help: 75 percent of CMO appointments in the first half of the year were external hires, and between April and June the number jumped to 80 percent as companies looked for people with skills to “adapt to rapidly changing consumer behavior,” according to Russell Reynolds, which published the findings today.

Facebook bucked the trend on Tuesday, promoting Alex Schultz as its new CMO, an internal hire who is replacing the outgoing Antonio Lucio. The appointment is a rarity in the tech sector, where only about one of every 10 CMOs are promoted from within, according to Russell Reynolds. Technology firms are more often than not poaching marketing leaders form their peers, with just 19 percent of external CMO hires in the year’s first half coming from non-tech organizations, according to Russell Reynolds, which characterized it as “a true revolving door for tech CMOs.”

There is also new evidence that female candidates keep gaining ground. In the first six months of the year, 53 percent of marketing appointments went to female candidates, up five points from the same period in 2019, according to Russell Reynolds.

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CMO Hirings Set Record Pace, Even During the Pandemic