“What are the latest trends with hiring marketing leaders?”

I get this question a lot. And it’s one of my favorite things to discuss. (Right up there with “What makes ‘This Is Us’ such a good show?” and “Would getting a dog be, on balance, more of a joy or a hassle?”)*

From my perch at the intersection of marketing, analytics, tech, and data, each search is unique. So – statistically significant trends are tough to deliver.

But I can give you a peek at some of the most lively conversations I’ve had this year, with clients that are braving the challenge of hiring leaders in a dynamic environment.

The Liveliest Conversations:

  • Marketing is increasingly full of specialists but I want a generalist… at least I think I do. Wait, do I?
  • Do we call our senior-most marketing role a CMO or a VP of Mktg or a Head of Marketing? Can we get away with having a consultant as a fractional CMO?
  • Should we call this role ‘VP of Marketing Data’ or the more customer-friendly ‘VP of Customer Information’?
  • Do we need a marketing leader who is more a leader of the brand, a leader of demand, or, instead, a leader of the band?
  • Do we need someone stretching into the job or stepping into it or stooping into it?
  • Which is more important – scrappiness or scale? Can we get both from the same person?
  • What are the tradeoffs between hiring a performance marketing leader versus a strategist?
  • How can you tell if someone is REALLY ready to join a growth-stage company? (some tips here)
  • What should I look for in the best B2B marketing leaders? (some tips here: 10 Obsessions of a Modern B2B Marketing Leader)
  • How do we drive for more diversity?
  • How do we balance buy-in and speed in an executive recruiting process when everyone has a different view? Do we need for everyone involved in the hiring process to be 100% confident in hiring this candidate?
  • When our dream candidate is different from us personality-wise, is that bad? Or just different? What’s the line between ‘not a cultural fit’ and ‘actually a great cultural add’?
  • How should we handle it if our dream candidate breaks up with us? (some tips here; my condolences if you need them)


What these conversations suggest:

It is not surprising that these questions come up. After all, the responsibilities of a marketing leader have expanded and diversified:

  • Be the shepherd of the end-to-end customer experience …. even though so many other functions influence it
  • Directly impact revenue …. even though it is notoriously hard to measure marketing’s contribution to revenue
  • Be the steward of all customer information…. even though so much of that information is missing or old or spread across multiple systems
  • Help craft a great employer brand…. even though that is mostly owned by HR


In the most successful ‘marriages,’ CEOs and marketing leaders clearly define and align on four things:

  • scope of responsibilities
  • expectations
  • authority
  • resources


Some highlights for me personally this year:


  • Awesome search assignments: I loved getting to know the top Customer Success officers in the marketing tech arena, for instance. I loved connecting with the very small handful of people in the world who could best fulfill a Global VP of Marketing Data & Technology role for a major tech company. I loved working with one of my all-time favorite consumer brands to recruit a new marketing leader. And it was an honor to place the first marketing leader into a company with an important mission of bringing together women in venture capital and private equity.
  • Thousands of conversations with leaders in marketing, marketing technology, marketing analytics, and customer success: I have learned from each one. Thank you.
  • Community-building: I get a kick out of bringing professionals together to meet the people they didn’t realize they needed to meet. Marketing Tech in the Hub, an invite-only series that I co-organize, is going into Year 3; a couple of hundred folks have gamely participated. And there’s the Sassy Sisters gatherings for women marketing leaders on both coasts.
  • Visiting Japan with my husband: So fun!

Thank you to all who have been in my orbit this year: clients, candidates, references, advice-givers, readers, enthusiastic participants at events. I am grateful to be in a role that lets me get to know so many interesting people.

Enjoy your holidays!

*and feel free to weigh in on the dog question – joy or hassle?