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Female CMOs 10 Percent More Prevalent in the US than the UK

Act-On Software, the leading provider of adaptive marketing automation for fast-growing businesses, today shared findings from its latest research effort: the CMO Index Report, a new inquiry into the evolving role of today’s Chief Marketing Officer in the US and the UK.

The study, which drew on data from the FTSE 100 (a share index of the 100 UK companies with the highest market capitalisation) and the Inc. 500 list of mid-market companies (businesses with a revenue range of 50M to 1B, employee size of 100-10,000), sought to clarify and understand what the modern CMO looks like – their typical background, their qualifications, their pedigree; about 70 CMOs (or equivalent titles) in the US, about 80 in the UK.

“The modern CMO’s charter is expanding to address all the areas that impact revenue generation – these days accounting for everything from brand awareness and customer acquisition to customer retention, advocacy and loyalty,” says Michelle Huff, Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Given the growing influence of this role within the business, it’s important to better understand and study the background and characteristics of successful CMOs today.”

Among the trends that emerged:

  • Women have progressed in landing this C-level position. 56 percent of the CMOs identified in the US are women – higher than can often be expected for executive roles, and perhaps the result of larger conversations around corporate diversity. 60 percent of the CMOs identified in the UK, however, are men.
  • Education carries weight. 30 percent of CMOs in the UK and US have Master’s certifications and higher, which, in the US at least, marks a climb from years past. In the UK, Oxbridge’s prestige might be wearing thin – only 9 percent of CMOs analysed were educated there.
  • Career success can be a waiting game. On average, CMOs in the US tend to serve their companies for at least five years before earning executive titles, while CMOs in the UK often served their companies for 8 to 9 years. US CMOs also serve at least four other companies before ultimately reaching the C-level, which corresponds with research from Korn Ferry: the CMO role typically sees the most turnover in the C-suite. A longer company tenure may be helping today’s CMOs to learn more about their customer base, their go-to-market strategy and business model, and allowing them to build better partnerships with other business leaders (sales, customer success, finance, IT, human resources); crucial as their roles become more influential.
  • Talent is often homegrown, and promoted from within. The majority of CMOs analysed in the US and UK are native to the two countries – 70 percent in the UK were British-born, 100 percent in the US were American-born – and promoted from within their own companies (86 percent in the UK, 89 percent in the US). Agency experience, it seems, is no longer much of a credential.

“If there’s anything this research makes clear, it’s that the role of CMO is changing, and that our expectations of CMOs are evolving,” concludes Susy Dunn, Act-On’s Chief People Officer. “We might still prioritise the same traits in CMOs we always have – a talent for building a company’s brand and partnering with sales – but it’s important we be mindful of how we’re enabling and empowering tomorrow’s CMOs today; to make sure we’re setting them up for success and helping them to develop a deep business acumen, a focus on the customer, an affinity for partnerships, and cross-functional empathy.”

For more on the study and its findings, head to the CMO Index Hub.