Attention CMOs: Be the obvious choice for CEO

Person looking at chair in spotlight

Greg Creed, 18 January, 2019

Lisa Bora, former Google exec and current KPMG customer, brand and marketing brand advisory partner, co-authored a report titled “CMOs in CEO roles: the case for a new perspective.” In this report, Bora argues that CMOs are well-placed to understand the changing digital economy, and as such are a good fit for the top job. However, marketers are often perceived as “less relevant” for the role compared to members from other leadership groups.

Having been both a CMO and CEO, I have four observations from my own career:

1. Don’t be boxed in by your box on the org chart

I was the CMO for KFC in Australia. Roger Eaton was the CEO, and he told me: “You handle demand, and I’ll handle supply.” It was simple, focused and worked perfectly.

2. Build business and commercial prowess

I was trained by Brian Goldstein, one of the best operators in the Yum! Brands system, on how to run a shift. David Gibbs, Yum! President and CFO, gave me the nickname: “the human calculator.“ When CFOs trust your math, you know you have come a long way.

3. Identify and deliver growth with your ideas

Great marketers can reframe and find growth. Whilst I was Category Director Bar Soaps for Lever Bros in the early 90s, we reframed ourselves as the “personal wash” category and found growth in shower gels etc. When I went to Taco Bell as CMO in the early 2000s, everyone spoke of our 70% share of Mexican food.   I reframed it as a 2.6% share of Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). When you have a 70% market share, you defend it – but when you have 2.6% share, you attack!

4. Leaders ask the insightful questions and let others provide the answers

Think about what questions you will ask; not what answers you will give.

Author

Greg Creed

Greg Creed

Greg Creed is Chief Executive Officer at Yum! Brands and a QUT Business School alumnus.

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