Marketers, good news. One quarter of CEOs have a marketing background.

Moving from CMO to CEO

According to Rohit Kale, Consultant at Spencer Stuart, studies have shown in India that 25% of CEOs come from a marketing background.

So that's good news for our members looking to make the jump from CMO to CEO. Which is exactly what was discussed at our recent event in India, 'Moving from CMO to CEO'.

The reason why marketers make such successful CEOs according to Rohit is their ability to bring a 'clear understanding of their customer', as well as being able to use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. He continued, marketers 'are able to think analytically and creatively at the same time. That’s a very valuble skill as CEO.'

So, if you want to take the next step in your marketing career, here are the five key skills you'll need to move from CMO to CEO.

Put customers first

This is something that's drummed into marketers from day one and potentially why marketers make such great CEOs. Rohit says that putting the customers first is 'something that any marketer is expected to deliver but its especially important' as chief executive officer.

It goes to show, sometimes the most basic things we learn are the most important.

Value creation

Are you truly adding value to the business? Rohit stresses that not only 'understanding what value creation is, can be critical' but also the ability to 'think about profit and loss'. 

You need to have the ability to understand what creates value, both in the short and long-term, as well as commercially. 

On-the-ground implementation 

By implementation, Rohit doesn't mean campaign implementation. He's talking about thinking from the bottom-up. When moving from CMO to CEO, you need to start thinking about the wider impact of day-to-day tasks, how will projects be executed and how will they 'impact the rest of the organisation?'

'That’s really important because there is a strong feeling across many boards of organisations that marketers don’t really fear the element of practicality', says Rohit.

So next time you're planning a campaign, take a moment to think about how it will affect your colleagues in terms of time, resources and effort. 

A little black book

Having the ability to create both internal and external relationships is a great asset. Rohit asks, 'how can you relate and how can you create relationships that go beyond your company?'

Go beyond networking with people in your field, Rohit adds that 'the type of people in the manufacturing industry are very different from people in the marketing industry'.

By having a network of 'different types of individuals' you will get insight into 'significantly different' industries and come across a variety of talent to learn from.

Know the business inside out

How well do you understand your business? And by business, Rohit isn't just talking about your company's mission. He insists you need to know:

  • What's the strategy of the business?
  • How is value created in the business?
  • What are the critical drivers of value?
  • How do you actively create value?

Rohit concludes our talk with the fact that, at times, you'll need to accept that 'it’s not always marketers', who are creating value. 


By Orianna Rosa Royle, Digital Assistant at The Marketing Society