CMO Impact
Proving Effectiveness with your C-Suite and Board

The Board Room: How to get there and what to do once you arrive

February 18, 2015

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Did you know that of the 900 Fortune 1,000 Board Seats, only 38 are sitting CMOs? That’s less than five percent! At our recent Silicon Valley and San Francisco dinners, Cammie Dunaway, US President and CMO of KidZania, Dan Fishback, Former CEO at DemandTec and Board Member, Bill Pearce, Executive Chairman at RichRelevance, and Tom Seclow & Tania Binder of Spencer Stuart led interesting and useful discussions on how Marketers can make an impact in the Board Room. Here are some of their key takeaways from those discussions:

Choose the board where you can add the most value

“Look for companies where marketing and customer experience are central. Add to your functional knowledge by developing foundational knowledge and expertise in specific areas like board governance or comp. It is helpful to be perceived as an expert.” –Cammie Dunaway, CMO, Kidzania

Make a case for marketing’s value

“In order to land a board seat, you must make a case for your value as a marketer. The marketer owns a huge part of the customer experience – digital, in-person, consistency across all touch points – and is therefore vital for retention. As customers become more expensive to acquire in our digital world, marketers are increasingly contributing directly to the company’s bottom line.” –Dan Fishback, Former CEO at DemandTec, Board Member

The customer connection is key

“Boards realize that acquiring consumers and/or customers is the key to growth.  Providing insights, analogies or potential solutions to big thorny problems make CMOs increasingly in-demand for Boards.  Not sure what took so long to realize this?” –Bill Pearce, Executive Chairman at RichRelevance

Network, network, network

“Networking is the key to landing your first board seat. Meet with current board members and find out what it’s like to sit on a board. Non-profits and advisory boards can be good training ground and a great place to meet connections. Enlist your CEO as an advocate for board assignments. Think about where you will best add value to a board and focus your efforts there.” –Tania Binder & Tom Seclow, Spencer Stuart

Do your homework

“Before your first board meeting, prepare thoroughly for the meeting by researching the company you’re serving and your fellow board members. Be thoughtful on where you contribute to each discussion. Keep your comments centered on where you can add value and resist contributing when you cannot.” –Tania Binder & Tom Seclow, Spencer Stuart

Take the time to listen and learn

“As a board member, you have to be a good listener and proactively learn about the business you are serving – most board value doesn’t come from the meetings. Invest your time to meet with the CEO and management teams so that you can fully understand the company you are directing. When you take these steps, there’s an intimacy created that can really add value to the business. People who are willing to roll up their sleeves and actually help are highly valued and rare.” –Dan Fishback, Former CEO at DemandTec, Board Member

Strive to be a good colleague

“Be mindful of camaraderie of the board. Observe the culture and styles and, when possible, couch comments as supporting or building on others points. It’s ok to be slightly differential – especially at first. Never be disrespectful.” –Cammie Dunaway, CMO, Kidzania

 

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