C-Suite Perspectives: The CMO
How Do C-Suite Executives View The Evolving Role of Their CMO Colleagues?
A team of Egon Zehnder consultants invited five esteemed executives from prestigious enterprises to share their candid insights, key concerns and best advice for CMOs. Intriguingly, while the executives interviewed hail from different companies and industries, substantial consistency emerged across the dialogues. C-Suite executives see CMOs facing unprecedented challenges, and say a great deal rides on how CMOs perform.
This edition of C-Suite Perspectives presents observations from:
- Jon Ferrando, EVP – General Counsel Corporate Development and Human Resources, AutoNation
- Donagh Herlihy, EVP – Digital & CIO, Bloomin’ Brands (formerly SVP – CIO & eCommerce, Avon)
- Stefan Larsson, Global President, Old Navy
- Deirdre Mahlan, Chief Financial Officer, Diageo
- Andrew Robertson, President and Chief Executive Officer, BBDO
Here are a few highlights from those conversations:
Jon Ferrando, AutoNation – “The big thing for us at AutoNation and across retail is consumers moving online and into mobile. The average customer used to visit seven stores to purchase a car. Now they’re using mobile, social, online, and web to decide what and where to buy before they ever come into a store. It introduces a lot more complexity to deal with those channels. Whether it is email, SEO, or SEM, you need more expertise and specialization in your marketing function, which must become much more data-driven.”
Donagh Herlihy, Bloomin’ Brands – “Increasingly, CIOs expect that no matter what your function, you’re digitally savvy… at least in terms of understanding how you can use technology to improve your business area. More and more we expect functional leaders to be able to articulate that themselves, as opposed to trying to tease it out of a conversation with IT. A tech savvy marketing organization working with a marketing savvy tech organization. That’s nirvana.”
Stefan Larson, Old Navy – “The whole industry has shifted to understanding what consumers will pull. This shift from push to pull is very big. It means the CMO has to make sure we are telling stories the customer wants to interact with. The perfect CMOunderstands customers really, really well…. Not only how the customer shops, but also how they interact with media and how they live their lives. A CMO with that kind of insight is now much more valuable than a CMO who is a traditional marketing expert.”
Deirdre Mahlan, Diageo – “I often say you have to be a business leader first and a functional leader second. I think that is becoming ever more true for a CMO. A CMO still needs that creative flair, but you have to be a business executive with flair. You have to understand what is happening from an IT capability point of view. You have to understand what is happening from a measurement point of view. You have to be thinking two generations out about your relationship with your agency. Being a CMO today demands a broad sphere of strategic and business acumen.”
Andrew Robertson, BBDO – “As my dad would say, ‘If you can’t ride two horses at once, don’t join the circus.’ Many CMOs might feel most natural focusing on a strategic approach to the business, but the reality is you also have to focus on daily sales. The best CMOs can ride both horses. And you need to be tough. The trick is not to always avoid punches. You can’t. The trick is to pick yourself up quickly and keep going.”
Key Takeaways – If you are a CMO, your C-Suite colleagues want you to know that they grasp the daunting complexity of marketing in the third millennium. Your peers are personally invested in your success and recognize that their fate and yours have never been more intricately intertwined. They call on you to partner and collaborate. To disrupt and transform. To be curious as well as courageous. More than ever before, they look to you to show them the future.
Access the full paper C-Suites Perspectives: The CMO.