Can marketers become CEOs?

Teaching Notes for this Marketing Activity

Preferred format: This teaching activity is designed for small groups of students or as an overall class discussion.
Student audience: This exercise is more suitable for students of later level marketing subjects or at masters level.
Exercise time: The group discussion time should be around 10-15 minutes, plus any additional time for an overall class discussion.
Additional resources: See article link below.

Student Task

One of the career challenges in the marketing field is the progression through the ranks into the executive team (as the CMO) and then finally onto CEO. Marketers who break through to CEO level are becoming more common, but it is generally more challenging for someone with a marketing background.

Your initial task is to review the following article by Jill McDonald: ‘I don’t see any reason more CMOs can’t become CEO‘.  Here is one quote from her article:

To be a successful marketer in the boardroom you have to get their language, and your intent must align with what the boardroom holds dear. Marketing isn’t a science, but the more grounded you can be in your recommendations the better.


Your task is to review the above article and answer the following questions.

  1. To what extent to you agree with the above quote?
  2. What does she mean by “what the boardroom holds dear”?
  3. What are some of the specific challenges that marketers face in progressing to the CEO role?
  4. What advantages do CEOs with a marketing background have when running a company?