Four Different Routes to the Top for Marketing Professionals


Across most major industries, if you’re working in an advertising or marketing capacity, the position of Chief Marketing Officer represents the top of the tree in terms of career aspirations.

The role of CMO requires a careful balancing act between instant results and long-term brand building, and due to how quickly marketing moves, the route to CMO is often complicated and varied.

This is particularly apparent within the tech industry, with these four CMOs demonstrating the various routes that marketing professionals have taken to reach the top of their industry.

Climbing the corporate ladder: Chris Capossela - CMO at Microsoft

The quintessential one-company man, Chris Capossela has worked his way up the corporate ladder at Microsoft since 1991, having held 10 different positions in 20 years before being named CMO in 2011.

Capossela started his career at Microsoft as a product manager, and worked for two years as a speech assistant to Bill Gates, before ascending through various executive positions. Caposella’s career trajectory demonstrates the value of climbing the ladder through plenty of determination and versatility.

Demonstrating your value elsewhere: Philip Schiller - SVP worldwide marketing at Apple

Philip Schiller has been a permanent fixture of Apple’s executive leadership team since his return to the company in 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to the tech giants as CEO. Having worked at Apple as a product marketing manager from 1987 to 1993, Schiller’s rise to SVP occurred after he left the company to pursue career progression elsewhere.

Working as Marketing Director at Firepower Systems, and VP of product marketing at Macromedia, Schiller was able to return to Apple with much greater experience in an executive capacity, demonstrating the value of seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Gaining expertise across industries: Steve Fund - CMO at Intel

Having no background in the tech industry before his appointment at Intel, Steve Fund’s route to CMO differs to the others on this list.

Fund gained his reputation in marketing across various industries, rising through the ranks at companies including Pepsico, Gillette, and Staples as Marketing Director, VP and SVP respectively.

This wealth of expertise across industries led to Fund being appointed at Intel in 2014, charged with moving the company’s image beyond chipmaking, and their longstanding ‘Intel Inside’ strapline. As CMO, Fund has achieved this by pushing Intel’s marketing into award-winning new directions, thanks to his varied marketing expertise.

Building a reputation in one industry: Gary Briggs - Outgoing CMO at Facebook

In 2013 Facebook recruited its first CMO in Gary Briggs, whose appointment occurred due to his world-class reputation across the tech industry, having worked in multiple executive positions for tech giants including IBM, eBay, PayPal and Google.

Briggs also co-founded two startups, OurHouse Inc (in 1999) and Plastic Jungle (in 2008), building his reputation further, and demonstrating a flair for creativity and taking chances. In January 2018, Briggs announced his upcoming retirement, with his story demonstrating the value of building a reputation in one industry.

The position of CMO is prestigious to marketers across all industries, with these various journeys in tech showing how the route to this destination is often long and winding.




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