CMO TO CEO – Global

Here are some global CEOs who began their careers in marketing. These CEOs highlight the potential for marketing professionals to ultimately ascend to top leadership positions within their organizations, leveraging their strategic marketing expertise, brand management skills, and customer-centric mindset to guide their companies to success on a global scale.

Alan Jope: Former CEO of Unilever. Jope began his career in marketing and held various brand management positions within Unilever. He went on to become the CEO of several Unilever divisions before assuming the CEO role in 2019.

Brian Chesky: CEO of Airbnb. He initially worked in marketing roles for companies like NBA and Horizon Air before co-founding Airbnb. He later took on the role of CEO and has been instrumental in its growth and success.

Brian Cornell: Brian Cornell served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Safeway before becoming the CEO of Target Corporation. He implemented various marketing strategies to enhance Target’s brand image drive its growth.

Greg Creed: Former CEO of Yum! Brands. Creed started his career in marketing and held various marketing and brand management positions before becoming the CEO of Taco Bell in 2011. He later served as the CEO of Yum! Brands, overseeing a portfolio of prominent fast-food chains such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

Indra Nooyi: Former CEO of PepsiCo. She started her career in marketing and strategy roles at Johnson & Johnson and later joined PepsiCo. Nooyi served as CEO from 2006 to 2018, during which time she drove significant innovation and growth for the company.

Irene Rosenfeld: Former CEO of Mondeléz International. Rosenfeld started her career in marketing at General Foods Corporation and held various marketing roles before becoming the CEO of Kraft Foods in 2006. She later led Mondeléz International, a multinational food and beverage conglomerate.

Mary Barra: CEO of General Motors She began her career at General Motors as an intern and worked her way up through various marketing and management positions before becoming CEO in 2014.

Roberto Goizueta: Former CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Goizueta began his career in marketing and worked his way up through various marketing and management positions within Coca-Cola. He served as CEO from 1981 to 1997 and is credited with leading the company’s expansion and global success.

Satya Nadella: CEO of Microsoft. While he didn’t start his career in marketing, Nadella held various roles within Microsoft, including Senior Vice President of the Online Services Division, where he focused on marketing and business development.

Tim Cook: CEO of Apple Inc. Although Cook’s background is primarily in operations and manufacturing, he worked in marketing at Compaq Computer Corporation and later joined Apple, where he played a significant role in the company’s marketing strategies before becoming CEO in 2011.

“I really have come to see that servant leadership is absolutely the best form of leadership

for multiple reasons. I think a servant leader gets better results, particularly in leading people.”

Mike Duke worked as CMO at Walmart before eventually becoming its CEO.

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