Master's Blog Six - Business Lecture Five

The fifth and final business lecture (The 2020 CMO – Making the Transition to 2020) was given by Roger Leek on 20th  November 2018.

Roger Leek has had an accomplished career in HR. He is currently Chair of Roffey Park Institute, a world class centre for executive education and research based in the UK and Singapore.  Prior to that he held the position of SVP Global HR for Fujitsu Limited.  His previous roles include SVP HR Fujitsu Global Business Group, Group HR Director ICL/Fujitsu Services, Group HR Director British Nuclear Fuels and SVP International HR for Volvo Car Corporation.

The 2020 CMO – The Most Dangerous Title Around

Roger started with the provocative statement that the role of the CMO is actually under siege. The various functions that should really all be the responsibility  of the CMO are being subdivided and parceled out to other members of the C-suite. He gave us a list of titles (by no means all-inclusive) which gave examples of how this is happening in practice:


The fragmentation of the CMO’s responsibilities is dangerous in two ways. First, the natural responsibilities of the CMO are being eroded and replaced by one or more CXO’s who will find it increasingly difficult to coordinate their activities between themselves and with the CMO (if he or she is still present and fulfilling some role in the organisation). Second there is the temptation to think that actually the CMO is now obsolete, and that all that is required is one of the new fragmented roles. Hence, for instance,  the mistaken belief in some quarters that “digital” is all that matters and  that the new technology has rendered the CMO obsolete. In  both cases organisations risk losing the benefit of the core functions of marketing delivered through one responsible channel – the CMO.

Future Skills

Roger then listed the skills that CMOs will require in future if they are to avoid fragmentation of their responsibilities and continue to provide a full service to the organisations they belong to:

  • Broad Scanning, Vision and Strategy
  • Capability to derive creative insights from the use of data analytics
  • Familiarity with and understanding of the new technology 
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Ability to manage all aspects of customer communications – including content, social networks and the possibilities for hyperpersonalisation (1:1 marketing)
  • Commercial awareness
  • Ability to deal with numbers, processes and systems
  • People skills – ability to deal with interpersonal relations and collaboration across functions
  • A strong sense of the values and culture of the organisation in which he or she operates

His argument was that in order to be successful the CMO must be seen as a broad spectrum contributor to the overall activities of the business. To do this he or she must act as the custodian of customer experience, and derive creative insights from data analytics In order to influence the brand, values, and culture of the organisation and the development of the products and services it offers. Needless to say, none of this is possible without a CMO who is capable of close collaboration with the other members of the C-suite, particularly the those responsible for IT, finance, development, production, operations and logistics.

Transition Plan

Roger then explained how marketers should plan and manage their career to make the transition to the future CMO.

  • Evaluate your current role.
  • Assess your interests, values, skills and experience.
  • Compare and contrast; what do you really want to achieve?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3 to 5 years’ time?
  • Visualise the role you want to aim for role - responsibilities, environment, sector, location and reward.
  • Make a gap analysis; what do you need to achieve this role: training, development, know how, experience?
  • Look at opportunities within your current role/company, which is often easier than moving to a new employer.
  • Consider lateral moves (either within your current employer or a new one) to gain knowledge and experience or try shadow working for the same purpose.
  • Consider alternative jobs, companies, sectors; don’t just remain within your comfort zone.
  • Test the market, talk to people, do research, go to conferences and network.
  • Above all, invest time in managing your own career; no one else can do it for you.

Conclusion – The Future CMO

In conclusion, Roger made two points.

First, the 2020 CMO must be comfortable with  a whole range of technologies and capabilities, but the point is to be able  to manage them intelligently, not perform them all in detail. The successful CMO must build a team including creative talent, social media experts, and analysts to deliver the required performance.

Second, the new technology, and the digital economy it has created, have given the 2020 CMO the chance to reverse the fragmentation of roles described earlier and to take back control of an enhanced marketing function which delivers vastly increased added value to the enterprises it serves. The opportunity is there if the CMO is ready to grasp it.

The future is yours ...

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