Excerpted from Forbes: Chief marketing officers sit at the forefront of change within their organizations, driving technology investment, innovation, customer experience, new-product development, and the shaping of purpose, values, position and culture.
As the practice of marketing continues to transform at breakneck speed, so too does the CMO role itself, as new responsibilities and demands fall on their desks seemingly daily. Nowhere is the evolution of the role as evident as in a close look at the people who are assuming that title—and variations thereof—at companies big and small, incumbent and startup.
Today Forbes launches its second-annual CMO Next list, a compilation of 50 CMOs who are redefining the CMO role and who embody all that the role is becoming, can be and will be in the future. Through qualitative research tapping into the expertise of industry watchers as well as Forbes’ editorial industry knowledge, the list features 50 people who have reached the highest-level marketing position within a given company—CMO title or equivalent—and who are driving brand and business growth. Forbes reporter Marty Swant and I researched and compiled the list, which highlights the individuals’ education, expertise, experience, mindset and mandate within organizations. The individuals hail from both new and emerging companies as well as legacy, established corporations. Not a ranking, the goal is to annually spotlight CMOs who serve as models of a new, emerging and disruptive chief marketer.
There are some familiar names on this year’s list—and some relatively little-known. They may not all be household names—yet. They may not be as visible as more established counterparts at big, multinational companies. They may have spent their time thus far heads down, toiling to build a new brand or reset a historic company for future growth. They may have chosen an entirely new career track, bringing a diversity of thinking and expertise to a fledgling culture. Through their work, the day-to-day of their posts, they are reimagining, reinventing and redefining the CMO role. They have diverse educations and career paths. They are progressive thinkers who bring an obsessive customer-first mindset to the job.
Many bring digital brands, tech, consumer-goods and niche-community experience. Several have global experience and a data and engineering background; still others are bringing their liberal arts educations to bear at a time when brand storytelling through multiple platforms is paramount. Several have worked at agencies previously, and others hail from companies such as Google, Uber, Spotify, Nike and eBay. In their written responses, the words “soul,” “purpose,” “community,” and “art and science” dominated. Half are women. Besides CMO, titles include chief brand officer and chief customer officer. All oversee marketing and brand engagement—even as they redefine what that is.
Collaboration is key, both inside and outside companies, at a time of “increasingly blurred lines between other functions, as the CMO’s role continues to morph into relatively new areas including the adoption and enablement of technologies, harnessing talent-power for both internal and external purposes, fueling product and service innovation, and more,” says MaryLee Sachs, cofounder of Brandpie.
And innovation for today’s and tomorrow’s CMOs is “becoming increasingly about the market in marketing,” said Carlos Cata, managing partner at recruiting firm Caldwell Partners. “I’m seeing innovation being driven more by category creation—not just adding incremental [stuff]. Like Apple moving into credit cards with Goldman Sachs, like Disney going into streaming with Disney Plus. I’m seeing more happening around creating categories for business. Innovation has a new flavor, and it’s called category creation.”
Read on for profiles of each of the 50 individuals on this year’s Forbes CMO Next list.