Feb 21, 2018

Executive to C-Suite: How Educators Can Help Career Progression

by Digital Marketing Institute

The demand for skilled marketers keeps growing across all levels to the tune of an annual growth rate of 19%. When you drill down to functions, 56% of companies requested marketers with digital skills followed by creative services at 35%.

As the needs and demand of customers keep changing, so does the role of marketers across industries. The solution for many working professionals is to continuously upskill especially for those with an eye on the boardroom.

When climbing up the ranks to C-suite, marketing professionals perform well. According to a University of Notre Dame study, businesses with a CEO who came from a CMO position outperformed other companies by 15%.

With performance figures like those, it is easy to imagine why a marketing background may be considered an asset for top-level executives. In this article, we explore the trajectory from assistant to C-suite and how educators can play a role in this progression.

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Assistant

Skills required: Digital marketing, social media, email, event management

This is the usual entry level position for a marketing career. Typically this role requires providing administrative assistance to the marketing department, assisting with collecting data for analysis and organizing events.

However, with so much marketing now online, Marketing Assistants are expected to have digital marketing knowledge such as SEO or email, an understanding of social media channels and experience in event management.

Having good customer relationship skills is a definite advantage for a Marketing Assistant role, with research suggesting that these skills could add an extra 4% to expected salary.

Educational institutions can provide digital skills either as part of their degree program or through a continuous professional development program. A good foundation in the aspects of digital marketing and introduction to specialisms such as mobile and email marketing will help a graduate secure a Marketing Assistant role and refine their knowledge as they apply it. In addition, any work experience gained through an apprenticeship scheme would go a long way to securing an entry-level position.

Marketing Executive

Skills required: Analytics, social media, basic SEO, paid media, website optimization, display and video advertising

Marketing Executive roles demand a more advanced understanding of digital in the areas of social media, paid media, basic SEO and optimization. In addition, some experience of working in a marketing department, such as in a Marketing Assistant role would be an advantage.

Familiarity with social media and analytics is crucial at this level in order to manage organic and paid campaigns to engage with customers and raise brand awareness. From a measurement perspective, a Marketing Executive need to be able to track conversion rates and play a role in lead generation.

At this level, marketers require an advanced overview of marketing activity from paid media to analytics to video advertising. specialized training in areas such as social media and strategy and planning. Educators can help the transition from assistant to executive by offering programs aimed at upskilling in specific areas that can be applied to a daily role easily and quickly.

Marketing Specialist

Marketing Specialist

Skills required: Sales enablement, advanced analytics and SEO, paid media, search, strategy, e-commerce and email

Moving further up the career progression ladder demands more advanced skills in analytics, SEO, and e-commerce. There’s also a need to work with sales more closely to define personas, ensure the CRM delivers on business objectives and provide workable leads.

In addition, strategy takes on new meaning in a specialist role as there’s a need to think about aligning marketing and sales objectives with business outcomes. This requires a more informed bird’s eye view to spot opportunities and run successful campaigns that deliver leads and/or transactions.

To help in this role educators need to provide specialized training in areas such as social media and strategy and planning. A training program in a niche area will help reinforce existing digital media knowledge and delve into key areas set marketing specialists apart from their competitors and help their progression up the ladder.

Marketing Manager

Skills required: Strategy and planning, management, leadership, digital innovation, business innovation

The employment of Marketing Managers is expected to rise faster than the national average for all occupations from 2014 to 2024 - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marketing Managers are involved in the strategic planning and marketing of products, product lines or brands along with performance analysis. As a management level role, at a minimum, managerial and leadership skills are required.

Digital innovation skills and an ability to spot emerging marketing channels could give potential marketing managers the edge over their competitors. Marketing Managers have greater responsibility for implementing marketing plans and coordinating the input of creative, research, sales and innovation teams, therefore strong communication skills are also a requirement. In fact, Marketing Managers with strategic marketing skills can earn up to 9% more than the national average.

At this stage in a marketers career ROI, planning and strategy are crucial skills. With more and more companies expecting the marketing department to drive growth and deliver on business outcomes, a postgraduate qualification is the ideal way to refine skills that can drive growth with communications and consumers at the heart. Educators that can provide learning programs to deliver on these needs will corner a market of motivated and ambitious working professionals.

Head of Marketing

Head of Marketing

Skills required: Strategy and planning, management, leadership, digital innovation, business innovation, branding, campaigns, performance monitoring

Progressing closer to the C-suite, the Head of Marketing role requires leadership, management and digital innovation skills. Performance monitoring skills are applied both to managing people and marketing campaigns. An in-depth knowledge of branding, PR and business innovation are also expected.

The Head of Marketing has responsibility for managing marketing budgets, creating campaigns and monitoring the performance of marketing projects. Communication skills are vital too, as this role involves managing internal and external stakeholders such as vendors, clients and company department heads. In this role, a marketer will be working closely with the CMO and the rest of the C-Suite team to deliver on ROI and KPIs.

At this level, an educational program will need to build on in-depth knowledge and experience. Achieving this requires a Masters level qualification that will develop an advanced understanding of the key concepts underpinning digital marketing but also digital and social selling. Having insight into how sales team can interact with and influence consumers online will help in departmental alignment and deliver better outcomes for an organization.


Skills required: Strategy, planning and development, growth strategy, advanced analytics, market innovation, brand and change management

The CMO role has changed in recent years, especially with the transition to marketing from more traditional marketing channels to digital. As a role across businesses, CMOs are growing in importance and now often viewed as being responsible for growth. As a result, marketing departments are often viewed as revenue-generators rather than as simply cost centers.

Along with the increased expectation of responsibility for growth, CMOs are now more likely to be responsible for technology spend. Given these changes, it is not surprising that CMO roles, therefore, require strategy, planning and development as well as change management knowledge. Communication skills are required to transmit the marketing vision companywide and to external organizations such as media groups.

At this level, CMOs are responsible for the digital capabilities of their staff and in a large organization, this could mean a global workforce. Alongside the L&D team, a CMO will want to offer employees learning programs that can help them to upskill on a continuous basis that can be accessed as and when workload allows. For educators, this presents an opportunity to be the vendor of choice for a large organization delivering learning program at all levels of a marketer's career.

According to Forrester, 40% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers see themselves as working toward CEO roles. Regardless of whether a recent graduate or working professional views a CEO position as their ultimate ambition or not, it is clear that keeping up to date with digital marketing skills will open up more opportunities on their career path.

While continuous professional development is necessary for many professions, with the massive changes in marketing and the evolution of new technologies, staying ahead of competitors through ongoing training may be the secret to success opening the door for educators to play an integral role in the career of marketer from entry-level to C-suite.


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