Can a CFO run marketing?

Teaching Notes for this Marketing Activity

Preferred format: This teaching activity is designed to be completed in small groups of students or as a class discussion.

Student audience: This exercise is more suitable for more advanced students of marketing, starting to think about their marketing career.

Exercise time: The group discussion time should run 10-15 minutes.

Additional resources:

Is marketing an art or a science?

Student Task

Marketing has generally suffered from being seen as a “easy” area to manage. As a result, it has been relatively common for executives perceived to be on the track to CEO level to be cross trained as the company’s marketer. This is obviously created some resentment and lack of opportunity for employees exclusively trained in the marketing area.

In 2015 – please see the related article – Twitter appointed their CFO to also run the marketing area. As you should know, a CFO is primarily a numbers driven employee who is quite interested in getting insights from the data.

No doubt there has been a significant shift in recent years from marketing being considered an art form to becoming more analytically driven – so the appointment of the CFO to run marketing, particularly in the online form, that have should not be a surprise.

Student Discussion questions

  1. Other than having number expertise, is it possible that a CFO could bring other skills to the marketing area?
  2. Do you think that marketing is extensively a science/data task only, or is creativity still an important factor?
  3. To what extent do all marketers need to have a strong analytical understanding in today’s technology driven marketing platforms?
  4. Do you think that this CFO should come into marketing at a more junior level, or are they ready to run marketing without experience?
  5. Do you think that a reverse situation would apply – that the senior marketing person would be appointed to run the finance area (particularly if they were very strong in statistics and analysis)?