Get a demo Do I subscribe? News sign-up
Print

CMO boardroom role questioned

News, 22 January 2015

LONDON: Many chief marketing officers believe they should be in the boardroom but if they are not there, a leading industry figure suggests, it is because they are not up to the job.

"Marketeers have spent years bemoaning the fact that they aren't on the board, but it's probably because they just haven't been good enough," said David Wheldon, Barclays head of brand, reputation and citizenship, speaking at a London event organised by marketing consultancy Oystercatchers and reported by The Drum.

"It doesn't matter if they are on the board, everyone just needs to do their job properly," he added.

Another factor hindering the ascent to the boardroom was highlighted by Mike Hughes, director general at advertiser trade body ISBA, writing in the Guardian.

"Many marketers fail to appreciate the importance of learning the language of the boardroom," he said, "and even more fail to take the time to expand their knowledge of other functions in the business."

But he saw two developments working in favour of marketers: the fact that more companies understood the importance of putting the customer at the heart of the business; and the use of data to drive long-term growth.

The last point was picked up by Mark Phibbs, vp/marketing EMEA at Adobe Systems Europe, who pointed to an improved ability to measure the return on investment for marketing. "This will allow us to be increasingly seen as directors of customers and revenue, rather than the director of spending," he said.

Back at the Oystercatchers event, the chief executive of United Biscuits, Martin Glenn, believed strongly that marketers should be in the boardroom and argued that they have the skills to lead a company "if marketing strategy is put at the heart of what they [marketers] do".

He described marketers as "change agents" who brought "the inconvenient truth into the organisation".

As an example he cited the impact of discount grocers on the UK's big four supermarket chains. The threat had been ignored, he said, because no-one had argued against the prevailing business model – we have land so we'll build hypermarkets.

"There haven't been enough strong marketers in that situation, which is why I think they should be on the board," he said.

Data sourced from The Drum, The Guardian; additional content by Warc staff