The role of Chief Marketing Officer is the pinnacle for advertisers and marketers working in the tech industry, with this role representing the destination of a long and winding career path.
With CMOs often having a short shelf life, however, and the role requiring a careful balance between quick results and long-term brand building, for many top names in the tech industry, their career trajectories were not always straight forward.
Here are five leading tech CMOs and their path to the top.
Philip Schiller - Apple (Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing)
Schiller returned to Apple alongside Steve Jobs in 1997, where he has been a member of the company’s executive leadership team since. Having graduated in 1983 with a degree in molecular biology, Schiller’s rise to SVP of marketing is an unusual one.
Beginning as a lab technician before rising to systems analyst, Schiller became a product marketing manager at Apple in 1987. Stints away from the company helped his rise to the top, with his experience as Marketing Director at Firepower Systems and VP of product marketing at Macromedia helping him secure an executive position back at Apple.
Marc Mathieu - Samsung (Chief marketing Officer)
Having graduated from ESCP Europe with a Master’s in International Marketing, Marc Mathieu always had his sights set on a top marketing job.
Before moving to Samsung in 2015, Mathieu had spent nearly the entirety of his 22-year career in the food industry, working in various capacities at Danone, Coca-Cola and UniLever.
Since his move to Samsung, Mathieu’s innovation and creativity has seen the tech company’s brand reinvigorated through its interaction with customers. Mathieu’s big ideas approach to marketing at Samsung saw him named as one of the top 10 most influential CMOs by Forbes in 2017.
Chris Capossela - Microsoft (Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer)
Capossela certainly took the scenic route to CMO, having worked at Microsoft for 20 years encompassing 10 different positions before nabbing the top job in 2011.
Beginning as a product manager after graduating from Harvard in 1991, Capossela’s job role for two years was as a speech assistant to Bill Gates, working directly with Microsoft’s founder. This role was the start of Caposella’s ascent to various executive positions before being named CMO in 2011.
Steve Fund - Intel (Chief Marketing Officer)
Unlike the other names on this list, Steve Fund did not have a tech background before becoming CMO at Intel. Fund’s journey took a more traditional marketing route, working his way through top companies including Pepsico, Gillette, and Staples as Marketing Director, VP and SVP, respectively.
Fund’s arrival at Intel coincided with the company’s development beyond chipmaking, pushing the tech giants marketing into award-winning new directions, and helping oversee Intel’s best quarter in company history.
Gary Briggs - Facebook (Chief Marketing Officer, retiring)
At the beginning of 2018, Briggs announced that he would be retiring from his role as Facebook’s first-ever CMO - a position he had held since 2013.
Briggs is a leading name in the tech industry, having worked in multiple executive positions for tech giants such as IBM, eBay, PayPal, and Google since 1997. Briggs’ rise through the tech industry has not just been through working for others, co-founding two companies: OurHouse, Inc in 1999 and Plastic Jungle in 2008.
Briggs’ retirement opens up an opportunity for somebody else to step into the role at Facebook, at a time when the company’s image has taken a severe hit.
There are many pathways individuals can take in order to become CMO in the tech industry, and these four high-profile examples demonstrate various approaches to landing the top job. With the industry rapidly changing, and a fairly high churn rate in executive positions, the road to CMO is not always a straight one.