Attention CMOs: Be the obvious choice for CEO
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.