Here's what we learned analyzing 30 CMOs on LinkedIn

Searching for patterns in the education, skills and career paths among C-level brand marketers.

Ever wonder how CMOs climbed their way to the top? We did, too. To see if there were any success patterns, we analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of 30 randomly selected CMOs. Sixty-three percent were men and 37% were women. The sample consisted of chief marketers from B2B, B2C, B2B/B2C, and nonprofit organizations.

Because these findings are based solely on what's listed on these executives' profiles—and not everyone updates his or her LinkedIn profile regularly—the data may contain flaws. Also, the data has been rounded to the nearest full percentage.

But to discover fun facts like which college major was the most popular among this crew and what are their most endorsed skills, check out the data below.

Hitting the books
Marketing wasn't always on the brain for these CMOs. In fact, only 10% of them had undergraduate degrees in marketing. Engineering—whether mechanical, electrical, or system—was the most popular academic discipline among this sample (20%), followed by political science/studies (13%) and business (13%).

*Note: Numbers exceed 100% because some CMOs majored in more than one subject area.

About half (47%) of the sample continued to pursue their education and either obtained a graduate degree or completed a professional program. The other half did not.

Climbing the ladder
Before landing their current role, 23% of these CMOs served as VPs of marketing and 20% were presidents, cofounders or CEOs. Thirteen percent held an SVP role and another 13% had served as CMO at another company.

Indeed, nearly three-fourths (73%) of CMOs had to switch organizations to secure the coveted C-suite title; only 27% were promoted to CMO within their company—perhaps a wakeup call to organizations hoping to retain strong marketing talent.

Putting in the work
Now that they've obtained the head marketing gig, these CMOs have to put in the time to prove their worth. Thirty three months is the average amount of time these CMOs have held their current role—just shy of the three year mark. And while some CMOs have a long way to go—17% have been at their company for a year or less—about 10% have been in their current role between five and 10 years.

Flaunting their skills
So, what makes these marketers worthy of the CMO title? For one, they possess many desirable skills that their colleagues can attest to. Strategy/marketing strategy, start-ups and product marketing were the most endorsed skills among the group.

This article first appeared on

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