August 21, 2019

The average tenure for chief marketing officers of leading U.S. consumer brand companies decreased to 43 months from 44 months, according to the 15th annual CMO tenure study by leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart.

Average CMO Tenure Through The Years

A Closer Look at the Numbers

As in recent years, the study also looked at median tenure. Median tenure dropped from 31 months in 2017 to 27.5 months in 2018. The median gives a different perspective on the central tendency of the data, a perspective that is impacted very little by “outliers.” The CMO tenure data set is based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOs from 100 of the most-advertised U.S. brands as of December 31, 2018. 94 of these 100 companies have CMOs.

While the overall tenure average remains relatively stable, there are some shifts within this year’s tenure data. 34 (36%) of all CMOs are women, compared with 28 (28%) in 2017; 8 (44%) of the 18 new CMOS in this year’s class are women. Only 9 CMOs (10%) are minorities, a decline from 11 in 2017. There was a stark decline in minority representation among new CMOs; none of the 18 new CMOs are minorities, compared with 6 of the 21 (29%) new CMOs in 2017. 16 of the 18 new CMOs, or 89%, are serving as CMO for the first time, compared with 12 of 21— 57% — in 2017. The number of internally promoted CMOs increased as well, to 13 in 2018 from 10 in 2017.

“There are encouraging signs in this year’s tenure study, particularly the increase in the number of women in this year’s freshman class, but considerably more needs to be done to bring more minority representation into the CMO ranks,” said Greg Welch, a consultant in the Spencer Stuart Marketing Officer Practice who initiated the firm’s CMO Tenure Study in 2004. “The increase in first-time and internally promoted CMOs demonstrate that organizations are investing in developing the next generation of marketing leaders, presenting an opportunity to increase the pipeline of minorities in marketing leadership roles.”

CMO Snapshot

“One of the messages that can get lost when focusing too much on average tenure is how CMOs jobs are evolving, especially for those marketers who are being asked to take on roles and responsibilities beyond the marketing organization,” said Welch. “We are seeing more instances where CMOs are being tapped for GM roles such as Raj Subramaniam, who was just named president and COO of FedEx Corp. and co-president and co-CEO of FedEx Services, joining the likes of Jeff Jones who is president and CEO at H&R Block, and Mary Dillon, who is the CEO of Ulta. And CMOs are finding their place in the boardroom as well with Wells Fargo CMO Jamie Moldafsky at R.R. Donnelley and Nike CMO Michelle Peluso at IBM as just two examples.”

 

About Authors

Thomas Seclow

  •     Tom leads the North American Marketing Officer Practice for Spencer Stuart and is a member of the firm's Consumer and Technology, Media & Telecommunications practices.

Greg Welch

  •     Greg is a key member of Spencer Stuart's Consumer and Marketing Officer practices. He led the Consumer Practice for five years and was a founding member of the Marketing Officer Practice. He is also an active member of the North American Board and CEO practices.

 

 

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