The CMO oversees the broader marketing strategy of a business, and for marketing professionals with leadership aspirations, it can be a rewarding and exciting career path.

Although marketing experience will always factor in discussions about how to become a CMO, executive skills are also essential. Postgraduate qualifications — such as an MBA — can equip marketing professionals with the executive and managerial skills they need on the path to becoming a CMO.

Is the CMO career path the right one for you? Here, we look at this role and its responsibilities, and examine how an MBA can help you achieve your career goals. We also talk to a CMO about their professional experience and current role to help you make this transformative career decision.

The chief marketing officer career path

Keen on a career as a CMO but trying to figure out how to get there? The good news is that there is no set chief marketing officer career path to follow. Instead, there are several routes to get there – though all usually involve professional experience and education.

However, employers will expect certain qualifications and experience, so let’s look at a career path you might take:

  1. Gain a bachelor’s qualification in a discipline such as marketing, communication or business.
  2. Start your career as a marketing assistant or coordinator.
  3. Network throughout your career to make and maintain important contacts.
  4. As you gain experience, study for extra qualifications to upskill and fill any gaps, such as a certificate in marketing if your undergraduate degree was not in marketing.
  5. Progress in your career to more senior roles such as marketing manager. Many employers want at least 10 years’ experience before considering you for a CMO position.
  6. Gain a master’s degree, such as an MBA. What you learn can be hugely beneficial and shows employers you are committed to your profession.
  7. Start applying for CMO roles.

Ashton Tuckerman is the chief marketing officer at Gathar, an online private chef and catering platform. For her, a love of marketing sparked her interest in pursuing the role. “I didn’t set out to become a CMO but was a born communicator. I knew I wanted to work with words and tell stories.”

At university, Ashton studied journalism and integrated marketing, and realised how powerful words could be in influencing others to act. “Throughout my career, I went from being a specialist to a generalist, then being a generalist to a specialist, and back again. I think that’s the road most marketers will take towards a senior role like a CMO.”

The path towards becoming a CMO didn’t happen overnight, however. “It was about a 10-year journey,” she says. “Every time I entered a new role, I had goals I wanted to achieve. Along the way, I figured out the things I was good at or enjoyed and eventually applied all those skills as a CMO.”

If you’re a professional with relevant marketing experience and want to land a CMO role sooner rather than later, an MBA can also equip you with the other abilities you need to succeed in this role — executive and managerial skills. Mastering how to become a CMO requires management credentials, and with an MBA, you’ll be primed to handle the role’s responsibilities.

What are the chief marketing officer’s responsibilities?

A chief marketing officer is an organisation’s most senior marketing role and forms part of the C-suite of executives. Beyond traditional marketing skills, you’ll need business skills, including the ability to lead others, think strategically and manage an organisation or department.

As the head of marketing, the CMO is responsible for developing a broader strategy to facilitate business growth. According to Ashton, being a passionate storyteller is vital for this. “I have a great passion for ensuring everything we’re putting out there tells the same story,” she says. “It’s about painting a picture as a consistent brand so our customers know and trust us.”

For a chief marketing officer, organisational structure can impact their direct reports and relationships. However, they usually communicate with other marketing professionals and departments. “As a CMO, I work with other departments regularly,” Ashton says. “Business development, sales and customer care teams are all essential parts of marketing, so we collaborate often.”

The specific duties of the role can vary, depending on the organisation and position. However, a chief marketing officer’s responsibilities usually include the following:

  • overseeing or establishing strategies to ensure marketing aligns with the organisation’s values and objectives
  • applying traditional and new marketing methods to achieve the organisation’s goals
  • directing public relations efforts
  • overseeing or creating marketing plans that involve other departments
  • understanding market position and developing plans to improve it

For Ashton, being the CMO means wearing all the hats in the marketing team. “I like to be across everything,” she says. “My role covers every marketing channel, including organic social brand activity, paid advertising, customer profiling and customer journey mapping.”

Leadership and managerial skills are crucial for succeeding in this role – highlighting how beneficial an MBA can be in pursuing the role of CMO.

How an MBA equips you with chief marketing officer skills

In addition to acquiring those essential chief marketing officer skills, the general business skills that come with an MBA can help you fast-track this executive career and stand out as a candidate. So, choosing an MBA that aligns with your professional goals is critical.

Do you have career aspirations of becoming a CMO? Consider the following MBAs that all feature marketing units to complement your existing skill set:

James Cook University (JCU): Master of Business Administration Global

JCU’s Marketing Strategy, Analytics and Development unit reviews the significant marketing functions in organisations. Further, graduates can apply marketing contexts to all business problems.

Southern Cross University (SCU): Master of Business Administration

SCU offers a Digital Marketing unit that explores the tools and techniques used to create marketing plans and campaigns. With this, a CMO can help an organisation achieve its goals for growth.

Victoria University (VU): Master of Business Administration

The VU Online MBA offers a Marketing Management unit examining the marketing management decisions that CMOs face. Importantly, it covers both trending and traditional practices used by those in executive marketing positions.

RMIT University: Master of Business Administration

The Marketing Management unit of this MBA equips CMOs with the skills needed to lead a marketing strategy. Students also select minor courses from concentrations, including Design Thinking and Technology and Innovation.

Choosing a mode of delivery that suits your schedule is just as important as the course content. For many working professionals, online study is the most accessible and flexible option.

Fast-track your career as a CMO

You should now have some clear ideas on how to become a CMO. As we’ve seen, an MBA is a powerful way to strengthen your marketing experience and ensure you stand out. MBA Discovery’s Student Enrolment Advisors can help you determine the best course to achieve your goals, so speak to us today.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

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