APPIES speaker talks about why don’t more CMOs become CEOs?

Damien Cummings(pic) is a digital disrupter and change agent with over 20 years’ experience in marketing and digital transformation.

He has been honored with “Global Top 50 Digital Marketing Leaders 2016”, “Financial Services Marketer of the Year 2016”, “Digital Marketer of the Year 2016”, “Most Influential CMO 2015”, “Marketing Professional of The Year 2012” and the “Brand Leadership Award 2011”.
Damien will be one of the speaker’s at APPIES Malaysia 2018. 
I’ve spent over 20 years in marketing in one form or another but last year I took the plunge to move out of a prestigious corporate career into the start-up world. The difference, from marketer to CEO, is immense but definitely possible. It begs the question though – why aren’t more CMOs becoming CEOs?
Last year, executive recruitment firm Korn Ferry surveyed this and found 53% of executives said their current CMO could one day become CEO. “Could” not “would”. So what’s going wrong for the ambitious marketer?
Marketers need to learn a new language. Unfortunately, marketers tend to speak in their language. Brand, brand value, consumer sentiment, reach, frequency and digital jargon like impressions, CTR, engagement all make sense – to only the marketing team. No one else in the C-suite has any real idea what this means. CEOs and business leaders like talking in financial language. Revenue, profit, margin, costs (and cost-cutting!) are the language of how most senior leader discussions happen.
Marketers are still not data-driven enough. Marketing has gone through a massive and rapid revolution. The industry is trying to balance creative ideas with the increasing requirement to be numerate in media and in the results of marketing. The skill set of marketing is inherently more skewed towards the right brain – creative and emotional. CMOs have to get as comfortable talking about the direct link to ROI from media and marketing as they are about the “big idea”.
They need to lead technology and digital transformation. CEOs are falling behind in this area and they are looking for an advisor in their team that can navigate the world of technology. Most companies are navigating their version of a digital transformation, whether it be a new go-to-market plan (e.g. e-commerce) or digitising their products or simply keeping up with what’s new
CMOs have a natural advantage here, as more-often-than-not they are people-persons. Marketers are great at building relationships, but this is usually with agencies, media partners and with the industry. It’s unusual that many marketers (at all levels) neglect to forge strong internal company relationships. If you’re aiming for CEO, it’s important to get the support of other department heads such as sales, product, HR, IT and the CFO.
Do they want it enough?
Maybe marketers have seen how hard the CEO job is and they don’t want it? They’d probably do an amazing job but the question is really whether they want it or not. This must be the case, otherwise, we would be seeing many more marketers taking over the CEO role.
The leap from CMO to CEO is possible but it’s going to take a change in focus and building on more than just impressive marketing campaigns. I’d love to see more marketers make the move to become marketing-led CEOs.
You can listen to Damien’s full speech plus other guest speakers at the APPIES Malaysia 2018 Marketing Conference on April 16 and 17.
Register here now at

appies judges
Find out what your competitors are up to at APPIES Malaysia!
APPIES Malaysia is an annual 2-day Marketing Congress and Awards Festival showcasing, sharing and celebrating the country’s best marketing campaigns. Shortlisted entries will be judged by 30  leaders in the marketing industry who will put the presenters’ knowledge to the test in a unique Live Presentation environment.
Date: 16 & 17 April, 2018
Venue: Grand Ballroom, Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya.
Time: 8.30am – 6.00pm
To register, connect with Ruby on 037726 2588, [email protected]
For more information of APPIES Malaysia 2018, download the PDF here!

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

Campaign entries must have run between June 2023 to May 2024

Submissions Deadline
30th June 2024

APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
11th – 12th July 2024 (Malaysia)


Download Event PDF
Submit Entries Here

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