How to become a Chief Marketing Officer in the tech industry

4 minutes

On the 20th of March 2024, our Manchester recruitment lead, Andy Larkin, held an event discu...

On the 20th of March 2024, our Manchester recruitment lead, Andy Larkin, held an event discussing how technology marketers can grow their careers to Chief Marketing Officer. 

With so many technology businesses relocating and expanding in the North West, we're seeing a growing demand for marketing leaders in Manchester and beyond. To support your marketing career growth, we brought together a panel of three CMOs to share their unique experiences and career paths. Each of our CMOs come from a range of backgrounds, from tech scale-ups to global brands: 

Together, they covered the following topics: 

  • What is the modern Chief Marketing Officer job role? 
  • How to become a tech CMO? 

Keep reading for key takeaways from the morning’s discussion. 

What is a Chief Marketing Officer? 

Before exploring how to become a Chief Marketing Officer, we must first understand what the modern CMO job role looks like. The role is constantly evolving and looks very different from what it did even five years ago.  

At its core the role of the CMO is to drive company growth through effective marketing strategies and long-term brand building. Responsibilities can differ based on company size and objectives, however. Andy started the conversation by asking our speakers for their thoughts on how the role has evolved across the tech industry. 

The difference between CMO and Marketing Director 

For Laura Proctor, one of the biggest differences between the CMO and the Marketing Director role is knowing when you need to get involved in something.  

You’re moving from a role that is very hands on to a position that requires much more strategic leadership. Getting the balance right between developing and executing marketing campaigns can be a difficult skill to learn.  It's about recognising that where the business needs you right now can change on a daily or weekly basis. 

What remit does a CMO have? 

Our speakers agreed that a successful Chief Marketing Officer must work effectively across all departments within a business.  

The image contains a quote in a large, bold, sans-serif font, primarily in black with the words "most powerful attribute" emphasized in red. The quote reads: "The most powerful attribute that CMOs can bring around that boardroom table is being able to think across all the areas of the business." At the bottom in smaller text, there is a source attribution that says "Source: How to become a Chief Marketing Officer in the tech industry."

This includes working across HR, IT, sales and product. This allows you to understand where marketing can add value across the business. 

The demands and challenges of being a CMO 

Our speakers agreed that the biggest challenge of being a Chief Marketing Officer is balancing the demands of the role. 

Sarah Geary also highlighted the challenges that come with having a young family. The CMO role is very demanding, and you must find the right balance between work life and family life.  

How to become a CMO?

Now we understand what the Chief Marketing Officer role entails in the technology sector, Andy moved the conversation towards how to become a CMO.  

Is the role of the CMO right for every marketer? 

As the conversation moved on to focus on how to become a Chief Marketing officer, Andy asked our speakers if they think the role is right for every marketer. 

The image features a quote in a bold, sans-serif font, mostly in black with the word  "marketing leader" highlighted in red. The quote says: "The minute you don't believe in the company, you can't be a great marketing leader." Below the quote, there is a source citation in smaller text that reads "Source: How to become a Chief Marketing Officer in the tech industry."

Laura shared that she believes the role is right for any strong marketer. But it’s important to choose the right company and sector to develop your career in. For Laura, being passionate about the company, products and services is crucial for delivering effective marketing support. 

Paul Jackson largely agreed with this point, sharing that he couldn’t see himself developing into a Chief Marketing Officer at some points in his career. It was important for him to move tech businesses to make the transition. 

Essential skills 

As mentioned above, it’s paramount for successful Chief Marketing Officers to be organised and structured in their role. However, a number of other skills were mentioned throughout. Marketers looking to expand their career should focus on building the following skill sets: 

  • Adaptability and flexibility – the CMO role looks different every day. Plus, given the fast-paced nature of the tech industry, adaptability is key.  
  • Commitment to learning – to build a successful marketing team, a tech CMO must stay up to date with the latest marketing technologies. 
  • Stakeholder management – build relationships with your fellow board members and your investors. If you’re not on the same page, relationships will be strained.

Building your network 

Networking is key to becoming a successful Chief Marketing Officer. Your network doesn’t only need to be comprised of people you’ve worked with or those in other technology companies. Gaining external perspectives can be incredibly beneficial to your work. 

It’s also highly recommended to find a mentor or a coach who can become a sounding board for your career. 

A big thank you to our marketing leaders 

Finally, we want to extend a massive thank you to the tech marketing leaders who shared their time and insights with us. If you’re a Manchester-based marketer who wants to join our next event in the region, be sure to register your details below. 

For digital and marketing recruitment in Manchester, get in touch!

If you’re expanding your marketing department soon, be sure to get in touch with 3Search! We're a leading digital and marketing recruitment agency in Manchester, promising the best recruitment experience you will ever have.  

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