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From Graduate to CMO: Climbing the Marketing Career Ladder

by Suzie McInerney

From Graduate to CMO: Climbing the Marketing Career Ladder

On Tuesday, 21st May 2013, Six Degrees Executive sponsored the AMI Emerging Marketers of Victoria event, which put a spotlight on the topic of "From Graduate to CMO: Climbing the Marketing Career Ladder!"

It was inspiring to socialise with and hear from so many intelligent, capable, and enthusiastic evolving marketers; I say "evolving", as we as professionals are constantly evolving. In fact, show me a company that hasn't evolved and remains on the corporate map! All of the panelists that we heard from spoke consistently about two main attributes to their success - evolution and attitude!

In the competitive market space, one must continue to grow, develop, be open to change, relish in the space of uncomfortableness and be prepared to take several, lateral career moves. The days of stepping vertically up the corporate ladder are gone. Marketing as a career has evolved into several streams of specialties. Whether you chose to remain "specialist", in the area of digital or research for example, or whether you wish to broaden your scope of skill and gain experience across multiple disciplines, the principles of career planning and extending your experience across industry (for specialists) or cross discipline (for generalists) remain the same. Taking opportunities that provide scope far outweigh the benefits of the next salary band level or the grander title; your career is a marathon, not a sprint and experience fosters wisdom.

Which brings me to the second theme of "attitude". We heard from Oliver, Marnie, Kelly and Chauntel and all have had their fair share of setbacks, taking a wrong career turn and even "cutting up fruit" (Oliver - you will make a great kinder duty father one day!). Yet all are stronger, wiser and more resilient for it.

Seeing many people every day as a recruitment consultant, whilst also having managed teams in a big corporate machine, I can tell you that what stands one person out from what often seems large crowds of similarly experienced candidates and employees, is attitude! The "can do" approach. The "I'm here to do what is in the best interest of the company even if it's not specified in my job description". Or "I don't know the XYZ industry well but here's what I've researched and here's why I feel my skills/experience would align well". These people are a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to deal with. Who doesn't want to be a pleasure to be around?

At Six Degrees Executive, we specialise in retail, FMCG, consumer and the services industries. Given the role of the marketer is evolving and becoming far more commercial, the opportunities for emerging marketers are expanding. Roles in digital, insights, category and product are in demand and given the tight supply, companies are willing to look broader for the right skills. Cross industry fertilisation for marketers is more prevalent and becoming more consistent with how it's always been for finance of HR professionals.

So the news is good! If you are prepared to evolve and have the right attitude the opportunities will present themselves. Have a plan, leverage the wisdom of a mentor (or seek the services of a well versed recruitment consultant J) and be prepared to take some uncomfortable risks along the way. A career is long, and every day, every task, every interaction is an opportunity for you to grow and develop professionally.