CMO Turnover Reaches New High


Forbes | August 2, 2016

The Forbes article, “CMO Turnover Reaches New High?” featured Russell Reynolds Associates' research on CMOs in "Marketing Moves 2016: Q1-Q2." The article also quoted Richard Sanderson about the skillsets necessary for successful CMOs. The article is excerpted below.​

According to research just released by executive search firm Russell Reynolds, the first half of 2016 saw the highest level of CMO departures and arrivals since its study began in 2012. The retail sector was particularly volatile with almost half of the 30 largest U.S.-based retailers experiencing CMO turnover. The complexity of the role and acumen required to be a modern marketing leader is challenging many CMOs to meet increased expectations. According to Richard Sanderson,  co-leader of the marketing officers practice at Russell Reynolds, “Some CMOs are struggling to keep pace with the rapidly evolving skill set necessary to be successful. The days of the brand-oriented, marketing communications-focused, creative-led CMO are waning. CMOs are now required to demonstrate balance of left brain and right brain skills. They are expected to play a leadership role in data analytics, customization, personalization and optimization and to drive highly targeted, sophisticated, complex, digital-led campaigns and activities.”

The data also reveals several interesting trends:

  • Gender diversity is improving in the CMO ranks with 40% of the new hires being women. “The data is clear that diverse teams perform better, and there is a lot of exceptional female marketing talent across industries. More companies are now consciously searching within this talent pool to find leaders for the top marketing job,” said Lori Wright, the new CMO at BlueJeans Network.

  • Companies are looking for new leadership from outside their firms with 64% hiring from outside their organizations. This is an improvement from two years ago when 84% hired from the outside which may indicate companies like GE, Frito-Lay and Kimberly-Clark are taking marketing succession planning seriously.

  • Financial services companies are looking outside their industry for experiences consumer marketers. The industry long renowned for undifferentiated offerings and uninspired marketing campaigns appears to be seeking new thinking.

  • Consumer and Technology companies don’t appear to trust outsiders and prefer to hire CMOs with prior industry experience (84% for Consumer and 72% for Tech). Given the growth within the Tech sector, this is good news for aspiring CMOs who are currently “number two” at their current companies.

To read the full article, click here.

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CMO Turnover Reaches New High