CMO. The Best Job in Hampton Roads?

If you want a nice, stable job in marketing, run out and find yourself a position as chief marketing officer. The average tenure for folks in that position has nearly doubled since 2006, from 23.6 to 45 months, in a study released last year by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

And if you’re lucky to find one in an industrial company, of which Hampton Roads has many, that average tenure shoots up to 111 months — a little over nine years! That’s double the average time a U.S. worker stays with his or her current employer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On average, CMOs in the healthcare, automotive, restaurant and communications/media sectors have the shortest tenures, at 28 to 32 months.

The role of the CMO, and its importance to an organization, continues to shift with evolving technology. Marco Pescara, CMO of Toano-based Lumber Liquidators, agrees. “Technology and changing consumer interaction makes it essential that a CMO not simply understand who they serve — but how the customer is interacting,” he tells me.

CMO Tenure


Pescara has been in his role at Lumber Liquidators for a little over two years, although he has been with the company for almost eight. He says the number of “personal touch points” continues to increase, and feels the CMO must guide the organization in understanding how customers are interacting through those touches.

Spencer Stuart’s Tom Seclow says, “More and more, these are meaty and more satisfying roles, which in some cases may include general management responsibilities. As they gain credibility among their C-suite peers and find more challenges in their current role, many CMOs are staying in their positions longer.”

Let’s talk career path. The data would indicate that, on average, you can look to rise to the position of CMO in an organization, as Pescara did. reports that the average length of time that today’s CMOs have in any position with their current employer is 8.8 years.

The report indicates several things are driving the importance of the CMO role, among them the continuance of emerging technologies along with the need to develop more intricate analytics and ways to leverage huge amounts of customer data.

Eric Lackey, CMO of Hampton Roads–based JES Foundation Repair echoes that sentiment. Lackey, who has an agency background as a co-founder of Meridian Group, now has six years under his belt as head of marketing. Technology is such a driver of business leads and success that the company has developed a cloud-based business planning and tracking platform, “Biz Wiz” used by over 100 network partners nationwide. “It helps us be much more efficient in planning and in tracking results,” he says. Like many long-term career marketers, he finds a big challenge now to be continuing to learn and adapt online and digital advertising tools to his lead-generation needs. An in-house staff helps keep Lackey and JES on a solid growth curve.

The downside — the tracking study says that as the tenure increases, the number of CMO positions is decreasing. So, as I tell my middle school son: math rules, technology is king. Stay ahead of both if you want to compete for a secure job in one of these key hometown roles.

Read the Spencer Stuart article

Read the CMO Survey

2 thoughts on “CMO. The Best Job in Hampton Roads?

  1. I love it “math rules, technology is king.” I was once in a restaurant where an employee told me his father told him, son … it’s not about the grades you make, it’s about the hands you shake.” 🙂

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