Internal promotion remains rare for CMO jobs

A new study of top-level marketing appointments shows most companies still look beyond their own walls.
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New research into marketers’ career advancement suggests brand leaders are still struggling to find opportunities within their own organizations as the majority of reported CMO hires from 2017 came from outside companies.

New year-end data from recruitment firm Russell Reynolds Associates showed that of the 376 CMO appointments the firm examined over the course of 2017, 74% were not internal promotions. That’s up from the 72% the firm reported mid-way through the year, and up from 69% in 2016.

The report’s authors position this as a “succession crisis” that shows “many companies struggle with CMO succession planning.”

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The research also notes that at 376 publicly reported appointments, last year saw the highest CMO turnover in the report’s four-year history.

However, the firm notes that Fortune 100 companies fared far better when it comes to internal talent development. In this subset, 84% of CMO appointments were internal hires. “This suggests large companies have deeper benches of talent and development opportunities that foster internal promotions,” the report’s authors wrote.

Among those promoted to the top marketer’s job through internal cultivation, the average tenure leading to the CMO role has decreased to 7.4 years, down from 8.2 in the 2016 study and 10.7 years in 2015.

Among profit-driven business sectors, technology and professional service companies saw the most external marketing appointments at 88% and 85%, respectively. Consumer products and services saw the lowest at 64%.

The average tenure of studied CMOs who left their company was 2.9 years. Among those who were promoted within their companies, the average was 4.7 years.

Photo by Ben Rosett courtesy Unsplash.