Average tenure of big company chief marketing officers decreases again

By our News Team | 2023

CMOs at top global firms spent an average of just 4.2 years in the job in 2022, down on the 2021 average. But it’s not all bad news.

The average tenure of chief marketing officers at the world’s top companies has decreased again, with a study finding that CMOs at Fortune 500 companies spent an average of just 4.2 years in the job in 2022, down from an average of 4.5 years in 2021.

Similarly, CMOs at the world’s Top 100 Advertisers in the US – a different set of businesses to the Fortune 500 firms – spent only 3.3 years in their job, on average, in 2022. No comparative figures are given for 2021.

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The study was published this week by professional services and consulting firm Spencer Stuart, which has offices in 30 countries. The survey is now in its 19th year.

CMOs working at Fortune 500 companies operating in the B2B environment had a slightly longer stay – an average of 4.4 years. Those in B2C-focused businesses tended to stay for an average of only 4.1 years.

But, while CMO tenure is one of the shortest in the C-suite, it is only slightly shorter than the overall average of 4.4 years for other top executives. Those C-suite executives who tended to stay for a shorter time than CMOs in 2022 were chief sustainability officers (3.4 years on average), chief operating officers (2.9 years) and chief inclusion and diversity officers (2.7 years).

The job with the longest tenure was the CEO, who stayed for an average of 6.7 years.

Short tenure not necessarily performance-related

Spencer Stuart emphasises that the relatively short tenure of CMOs should not be presumed to be related to poor performance.

“In fact, it often is a sign of success and elevation to other roles. In the consumer-heavy top 100 Advertisers group, for example, nearly 30% of CMOs were new in their jobs in 2022 – with a tenure of 12 months or less – compared with only 18% of Fortune 500 CMOs,” the study says.

“CMOs of these consumer and retail-driven businesses are typically on a journey to more senior roles. Our research finds that 77% of exiting CMOs in the Top 100 list go on to bigger and better roles, including general management positions and CMO roles at larger companies. 

“By comparison, the CMO role of companies in the Fortune 500 is often a final destination in a career.”

There was also more gender and ethnic diversity among Fortune 500 and Top 100 Advertiser chief marketing officers in 2022.

Nearly half of Fortune 500 CMOs in 2022 – 47% – were women, an increase from 44% in 2021. And 14% of CMOs were from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, an increase from 12% in 2021.

You can read more about the study here.