CMO’s know how important it is to put the right team together. The hiring process is a necessary evil and after many successful (and some unsuccessful) hires, we asked CMO Club Members what characteristics they value most when hiring new marketing talent for their team.

Here’s what they had to say…

Chris Edwards, Chief Marketing & Experience Officer, Conversa Health:

“I have found that successful marketing teammates have been a) curious people and b) athletes.

I find that people who have been athletes – whether high school, college or even just for fun – translate well into being team players in business. They know the discipline and hard work it takes to set and achieve goals and have that selfless, ‘for the greater good’ mentality. It doesn’t just take drive and perseverance on an individual level to win; Each person also needs to know the plays and understand that sometimes you have to pass the ball and not take the shot for the team to win.  I have found that this is so significant when you are trying to bring your whole organization and team together for quick success.”


Susan Lintonsmith, President & CEO, Quiznos:

  • “Great attitude – At Red Robin, we had a phrase that you hire for personality and train for skill. While I absolutely look for skill, I first and foremost look for people who have a lot of energy and are upbeat and positive.
  • Results driven – In interviews, I frequently ask this question: What is the biggest contribution that you made in your career that you are proud of – something that you initiated that wouldn’t have happened if you had not been there? I want people who are self-starters and can make a positive impact.
  • Team player – There are a lot of smart people out there and a lot of great resumes. I look for those people who can work well with others. I look for people who personally contribute, but still say “we did this” versus “I”. It’s nearly impossible to do anything by yourself in a company. I want to know that person’s contribution, but I also want to see that they worked well with others. Along the same line, I tend to prefer people who are a little understated versus having large egos or being self-promoters. I’ve worked with many of those in my career and it’s just not as fun.
  • Human – I look for people who are honest. I want people who say what needs to be said, not what they think I want to hear. I want people who are human and have made mistakes. One of my interview questions is always, “Tell me about your biggest mistake.” I’m not looking for how much they screwed up. I want to know if they took a risk. I want to know what they learned from their mistake. We all have, or are going to, screw up. That’s a given. Fail fast and learn faster. I want to see how the person talks about their mistake, the reasons why it happened, whether they take accountability for it, and what they learned.
  • Hard working – I want real people who are hard-working and care about making a difference.”

Snehal Desai, Global Business Director, Dow Water & Process Solutions at The Dow Chemical Company:


“I look for people with a core understanding of the role of marketing in a B2B company but nowadays I also look for those from outside our industry to inject new thinking. This could be about tools but often it is about a mindset around our “real customers” and a willingness to take a fresh look at how we are approaching the market.”




Steven Handmaker, CMO, Assurance:


“Very simply, I want people who aren’t afraid to bring me new ideas. A marketing team made up of people who do nothing but flawlessly execute all my ideas isn’t much good to me. I’m smart enough to know I don’t know everything. Plus, when team members contribute their own ideas, their ownership levels to seeing those through are always amplified.”




Virginie Glaenzer, Director, Marketing and Customer Experience, Maru/edr:


“Passion, curiosity and compassion. Hard skills can be acquired, soft skills determine who we are as people and team members.”






What are your non-negotiable when hiring marketing talent for your team? Check out what other CMOs have said here.