From CMO to Chief Growth Officer – What’s Different?

2019 Fall CMO Club Summit Roundtable Recap

Betty Noonan, Chief Growth Officer at nVent, Inc. and Eduardo Tobon, Leadership Advisor at Spencer Stuart share their insights into the pros and cons of CMO title changes in an ever-changing marketing environment.

  • Although Growth Officer titles have many of the same traditional responsibilities of the CMO, the differences can make it attractive to those executives looking for new areas to grow in, their next “new,” instead of the traditional CMO role. Think CMO plus.
  • Many of these jobs don’t have the core marketing functions already in place and can be molded in the Growth Officer’s image of what needs to happen.
  • Title might not be as important as the scope of the role. The role today is not well defined anyway. It usually comes down to the individual companies and their immediate needs.
  • It’s all about running the business and diversification of a skillset. It’s not just about the marketing component of growth, but about all of it, supply chains, operations, business strategy, general management, P&L responsibility, human resources, all aspects. Open yourself up to those experiences that allow you to think product and operation outside your lane so that when you are challenged in an organization, you can respond correctly. Have the credibility to have the conversation.
  • The challenge is how do we position the role of the marketer in situations where the industry itself has not placed marketing at the same level as other C-suite executives. In other words, can we elevate the other aspects of the role, diversify it, so that the CEO and others in the C-suite can see the value of the role overall in the company outside of just the marketing aspects.

“Spencer Stuart is starting to see an increasing percentage of its top marketing searches to have a title different than Chief Marketing Officer. One of the most common titles being utilized is Chief Growth Officer.” –Eduardo Tobon

  • We have a positioning problem. Ten years ago, we got smashed together with IT. How often does the CFO title change? How often does the CEO title change?  Or the CHIO? They don’t. Marketing evolves. It’s just the next ‘new” in the CMO role that has to be accepted and embraced.

“I stopped calling myself a CMO a while ago. I now call myself an “Executive Athlete. You give me a challenge, I’ve got the muscle, I’m going to get it done, period.” – Betty Noonan

  • The responsibility of the CEO is to the stability and ongoing robustness of the company, end of story. When they interview a marketing executive, they want to know what else besides marketing can you do to maintain a healthy, profitable company. Reframe the whole dialogue during the interview process. They’re not looking for a great marketer. They’re assuming you are already. They’re looking for the “plus” that you bring.
  • Know if you’re the right person based on the expectations of the organization, not on a specific job title. You need to ask, “what do you expect of me?
  • Sharpen up your financial acumen. You’re not going to be able to stay at the table if you don’t.

Check out this recent Wall Street Journal article on this subject.

Betty Noonan
Eduardo Tobon