The Role of a CMO in the Future of Marketing Leadership

Guest: Greg Welch Senior Partner, Spencer Stuart

Few professionals are as knowledgeable about marketing leadership and the CMO’s role as Greg Welch. A senior partner at Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s foremost leadership consulting firms, Greg helps to connect companies with the right fitting CMOs. He’s witnessed firsthand how, when leadership is done right, a CMO can be his or her team’s biggest cheerleader and source of inspiration.

Greg has worked with the leadership of dozens of large corporations, including Walmart, Facebook, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Greg believes that the intangibles of an extraordinary leader can transform a good CMO into a great one, but developing those skills takes work. On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew and Greg discuss what aspiring professionals need to know to be successful in marketing leadership, as well as concrete advice for CMOs striving for that CEO desk. Greg also shares why you should surround yourself with a group of supporters and mentors to develop your personal marketing leadership style.

    You’ll be inspired by Greg’s advice – be sure to listen here.

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What You’ll Learn

Greg is seeing a new breed of CMOs emerge, and they have these qualities

Throughout his 20 years of executive search experience, Greg has discovered that the best marketing leaders possess a few main qualities, including:

  • The ability to understand both the brand and data sides of a business
  • An intense sense of curiosity
  • An ambition to be a great listener
  • Capable of building and maintaining support with others

CMOs need to be smart, aggressive individuals. Greg believes they need to have the ability to know the basics behind building quality, sustainable brands, as well as motivate and inspire others.

Marketing leadership is all about building and maintaining relationships

Greg says, “You can’t manage your marketing team with the door closed.” Meaning, a person in marketing leadership can’t exist as a silo – every leader should rely on their team in order to achieve the greatest amount of success. That’s why stellar leaders intensely focus on building and maintaining strong relationships with others. Mentors, peers, subordinates, and even your competition are all invaluable connections a great CMO needs to invest in. Being authentic, transparent, and honest will go a long way towards fostering strong relationships with those who will help you in life and work.

The role of the CMO is always shifting – here’s how to continually succeed

Drew and Greg both believe that the role of the CMO in business is never stagnant. The best CMOs are seeking to learn and understand more about the business they’re in – even if they have no desire to end up in the CEO spot. Greg explains that the top priority should be keeping your team satisfied and engaged, no matter what else you may be focusing on in your marketing leadership role. Looking towards the future, Greg predicts that a focus on eCommerce strategies will help you stay on the cutting edge of a career as a CMO.


  • [0:29] Greg’s Renegade Rapid Fire segment
  • [6:50] It’s a new day in marketing and marketing leadership
  • [12:40] You can’t manage the marketing team with the door closed
  • [23:39] The ever-expanding role of the CMO
  • [33:10] Greg’s take on the ultimate CMO of the future

Connect With Greg:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Greg Welch is now in his 20th year of experience in executive search with Spencer Stuart, and he has more than 30 years of consumer industry experience. He has conducted more than 600 searches, bringing extensive expertise to his work with a diverse range of the world’s leading consumer manufacturers, restaurants and retailers. His primary area of focus includes chief marketing officers, presidents, CEOs and board directors. He co-authored the acclaimed book Good for Business: The Rise of the Conscious Corporation. He has also been published in Harvard Business ReviewForbes and Advertising Age.

Greg launched Spencer Stuart’s Marketing Officer Practice and also led the firm’s Chicago office. He is the co-founder of the M50 marketing group and the creator of Spencer Stuart’s annual CMO Summit, one of the industry’s most well-known events. Prior to joining Spencer Stuart, Greg held various leadership roles in sales and marketing, including customer vice president for sales and integrated logistics at Nabisco Foods.

Quotes from Greg Welch

  • The best marketers I know are great leaders at their core, who happen to be gifted at marketing, who can inspire people to do what they do best.
  • The idea of managing the marketing team with the door closed is gone.
  • The CMO is in a perfect seat to have a deep relationship with the CIO about relationship management or with the CFO about pricing elasticity. The great CMOs are taking that chair in an authentic way and driving growth for the company.

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