Ep. 48 | Exploring the CMO Index Report

This is a picture of Susy Dunn for the Rethink Marketing Podcast where she talks about the CMO Index Report

In this Rethink Marketing episode, we chat with Susy Dunn, Act-On’s Chief People Officer about our recently released CMO Index Report.

The report took a closer look at the CMOs or equivalent titles from companies across the US and the UK in an attempt to better understand what a modern CMO looks like – their background, their qualifications, their pedigree and more.

Among the trends that emerged could be grouped about gender, tenure and education. And Susy shares her thoughts on those topics from the perspective as the head of people at Act-On. She also recently wrote a blog post on the topic, too. We also chat about building a talent pipeline, and identifying the skillsets of today and tomorrow’s CMO.

Key trends from the 2017 CMO Index:

  • Women have progressed in landing this C-level position. 56 percent of the CMOs identified in the US are women – higher than can often be expected for executive roles, and perhaps the result of larger conversations around corporate diversity. 60 percent of the CMOs identified in the UK, however, are men.
  • Education carries weight. 30 percent of CMOs in the UK and US have Master’s certifications and higher, which, in the US at least, marks a climb from years past. In the UK, Oxbridge’s prestige might be wearing thin – only 9 percent of CMOs analyzed were educated there.
  • Career success can be a waiting game. On average, CMOs in the US tend to serve their companies for at least five years before earning executive titles, while CMOs in the UK often served their companies for 8 to 9 years. US CMOs also serve at least four other companies before ultimately reaching the C-level, which corresponds with research from Korn Ferry: the CMO role typically sees the most turnover in the C-suite. A longer company tenure may be helping today’s CMOs to learn more about their customer base, their go-to-market strategy and business model, and allowing them to build better partnerships with other business leaders (sales, customer success, finance, IT, human resources); crucial as their roles become more influential.
  • Talent is often homegrown, and promoted from within. The majority of CMOs analyzed in the US and UK are native to the two countries – 70 percent in the UK were British-born, 100 percent in the US were American-born – and promoted from within their own companies (86 percent in the UK, 89 percent in the US). Agency experience, it seems, is no longer much of a credential.

Download the CMO Index Report infographic

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Enjoy the conversation, and we hope you can get one or two takeaways that you can bring to your business.


  1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your role at Act-On?
  2. Act-On recently released its CMO Index Report. Can you tell us what it is and about?
  3. What does the report inform us about the role of the CMO today?
  4. What does the report tell us about the gender representation at the CMO level?
  5. What does the report tell us about company location and the CMO?
  6. What did we learn about the education backgrounds of today’s CMO?
  7. How does tenure play a role in today’s CMO?
  8. What are the skillsets needed for today and tomorrow’s CMO?
  9. How do I learn more about the CMO report?