How marketing directors can sit on boards or even become CEOs


Business leaders are increasingly interested in the skills that marketers can bring to boards. But marketers will have to prove themselves to secure a seat at the table, leaders of the Wall Street Journal’s CMO Network Summit said on Tuesday.

Marketers are still quite scarce on boards, said Ayana Parsons, senior partner for executive search and leadership consulting at management consulting firm Korn Ferry..

But their ability to build brands, understand customer needs and launch digital operations in the teeth of societal cross-currents can deliver deep value to a board of directors, she added.

“I firmly believe that there has never been a better time for marketing directors to position themselves for roles on the board,” she said.

Those interested are advised to participate in board preparation programs and make more appearances before their own board. But they should also spend as much time networking with administrators to understand how recruiting works and what it takes, Ms. Parsons said.

“We often say that finding a job is a full-time job in itself,” she said. “A seat on the board is no different. It takes time and networking.

Marketing leaders also need to show that they are respected within their own industry, especially by other marketing directors, said Lynne Biggar, executive vice president and global marketing director of Visa Inc.

“It doesn’t mean winning lots of awards,” she said. “Does that mean you present yourself as someone who is trying to improve the practice?” Do you contribute to industry panels and trade groups? Do you have this legacy of service, can you think beyond your current role? “

The deliberate pace of the recruitment process is indicative of the commitment expected of board members once they join; some companies are looking for a minimum term of 10 years.

So marketers need to make sure the board they join is right for them, said Jerri DeVard, founder of the Black Executive CMO Alliance, former director of clientele for Office Depot Inc. and a board member. Directors of Under Armor. Inc.

The instinct is to jump at the first opportunity, but leaders need to be selective before making such a commitment, she said.

“Someone can call you, but the question is, would you call them?” Ms. DeVard said. “You really have to think of it like a wedding. “

Pull up

Marketing managers are also in a good position to take on the CEO role, provided they understand that the marketing role is clearly about making more money for the company.

That’s according to Kristin Lemkau, who in 2019 was promoted from CMO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. to CEO of JP Morgan Wealth Management.

Few marketers are making the jump to CEOs, but Ms Lemkau said she hopes it will be more, just by doing their job well.

As chief marketing officer, Ms. Lemkau said, she increased the proportion of the company’s marketing spend that was directly measurable by business results and increased the ROI of that measurable budget during her tenure.

Ms Lemkau once considered the marketing director position to be her career cap, she said. But encouragement from her boss, the bank’s retired co-president and COO Gordon Smith, prompted her to opt for a CEO job.

Even marketing managers who don’t have such a mentor should be determined to ask for the promotion, she said, and if they’re told they don’t have enough experience, ask how they can get it. get.

“Don’t accept that CMO is your cap,” Ms. Lemkau said. “Raise up your hand, ask the following, and say, ‘Why not me? “”

Write to Katie Deighton at [email protected]

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