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Marketing gains influence over other departments in response to digital transformation, says Hays

CEOs increasingly rely on their marketing director to understand and deliver digital transformation, giving marketing greater influence internally and necessitating the requirement for marketing directors to have stakeholder engagement, problem solving and digital skills if they want to succeed. That’s according to a new report by Hays.

The ‘DNA of a Marketing Director’ provides insights for marketing professionals on how they can reach the top marketing job and is based on a survey of over 400 current marketing heads.

Susan Drew, senior regional director at Hays Australia, said, “We found the biggest business challenge facing marketing directors is improving the customer experience (47%), followed by keeping pace with technology advances (41%), harnessing and interpreting data (40%) and implementing digital platforms and tools (39%).

“But these challenges bring opportunities too, notably the ability to have more frequent and personal interactions with customers. Advancements in machine learning, predictive analytics, AI, AR and VR, the internet of things and blockchain will ultimately improve the customer experience and bring precision and accuracy to decision-making. This allows marketing to position itself at the heart of an organisation and lead real change.”

As Brent Smart, chief marketing officer at IAG and former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, put it in the report, “I read somewhere that the future marketer needs to have the head of an engineer and the heart of a poet. In a future dominated by science and technology, the art will become a rarer and more precious skill that the great marketers will wield.”

Hays’s report reveals the typical DNA of today’s marketing directors:

  • 77% have developed their digital skills to complement their traditional marketing skills;
  • 69% consider themselves to be a data-driven marketer;
  • 58% say people management is the most important skill required to be successful, followed by marketing strategy (54%);
  • Stakeholder engagement is the third most important skill (48%), highlighting the importance of engaging with others across an organisation to collaborate and gain buy-in on strategy;
  • Necessary personal characteristics include being proactive (65%) and a problem-solver (64%);
  • Achieving company objectives is their number one professional challenge (25%), while organisational politics is the number one career related challenge (58%);
  • 26% aspire to take on a bigger marketing role and 17% aspire to becoming CEO;
  • Less than half (46%) have always worked in marketing;
  • 78% attend events for career development and 71% keep up-to-date with the latest trends in marketing;
  • 31% said a lack of mentoring, support or guidance was a key challenge in their career;
  • 46 to 55 hours are the norm for 43% while a further 23% work between 56 and 65 hours;
  • 56% have more than 15 years’ experience in marketing and 72% have worked for more than four organisations prior to their current role;
  • More than half (59%) have worked outside Australia and New Zealand at some point during their career, including the UK (60%), North America (28%), Asia (25%) and Europe (22%).
  • Almost all say the experience had ‘considerable’ (75%) or ‘some’ (23%) benefit on their career;
  • Encouragingly, 73% say that if they had their time all over again, they would still choose a career in marketing;
  • 30% hold a business, commerce, finance or economics degree, 26% hold a marketing degree, 14% an arts/humanities degree and 13% a communications/public relations degree;
  • Marketing directors are typically women in their 30s and 40s: 65% are female and 82% are aged between 31 and 50;
  • Typically they have 20 indirect reports and six direct reports;
  • Only 9% sit on their organisation’s board.

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