CMO 2.0 - US leads on gender, UK on ethnicity

David Reed, director of research and editor-in-chief, DataIQ

The majority of chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the US are women and all American CMOs were US-bred. But while the UK still sees men making up the majority of senior marketing roles, hiring is more diverse in terms of origin - only 60% of British CMOs were born here. And the UK also leads on advanced education which may give them the edge when it comes to staying competitive.

The findings come from CMO Index, a survey carried out by adaptive marketing software vendor Act-On among 80 UK CMOs in FTSE 100 companes and 70 US-based CMOs in Inc. 5000 businesses. It discovered that 30% of the most senior marketers in the UK held a Master or higher certification, compared to 27% in the US. And there was little sign of establishment bias - just 9% went to Oxbridge. 

“The modern CMO’s charter is expanding to address all the areas that impact revenue generation - these days accounting for everything from brand awareness and customer acquisition to customer retention, advocacy and loyalty,” said Michelle Huff, Act-On’s chief marketing officer. “Given the growing influence of this role within the business, it’s important to better understand and study the background and characteristics of successful CMOs today.”

While ambitious British marketers may identify getting advanced skills as the way forward, they will also need to learn patience - it typically took them eight to nine years before being promoted to CMO, whereas it only took five years for their US peers. But promotion is largely from within in both countries (86% in the UK, 89% in the US).

Commenting on the research, Susy Dunn, Act-On's chief people officer, said: ”If there's anything this research makes clear, it's that the role of CMO is changing and that our expectations of CMOs are evolving. We might still prioritise the same traits in CMOs we always have - a talent for building a company’s brand and partnering with sales - but it's important we be mindful of how we're enabling and empowering tomorrow's CMOs today; to make sure we're setting them up for success and helping them to develop a deep business acumen, a focus on the customer, an affinity for partnerships, and cross-functional empathy.”


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Knowledge and strategy director, DataIQ
David is developing the framework for soft skills and career development among data and analytics practitioners. He continues to be editor-in-chief and research director for DataIQ.