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Jim Stengel, former CMO of Procter and Gamble (center) with Marisol Angelini of Coca Cola and Ken Kumer of SC Johnson kick off the 2014 Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program.


Chief Metamorphosis Officers

In the face of disruptive change, four make-or-break topics for rising CMOs

By Kate Proto

5/19/2014 -
What: Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program
Who: Rising CMOs and marketing leaders, by referral from their employers
Content Leaders: A balance of world-class Kellogg faculty and accomplished practitioners
Directors: Greg Carpenter, Academic Director; Eric Leininger, Executive Director
When: April 29-30 and June 24-25, 2014
To learn more: Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program
Organizational transformation is one of the most urgent considerations for chief marketing officers today. In fact, 75 percent of CMOs are planning major organizational redesign, according to guest speaker Jim Stengel, former marketing head of Procter & Gamble and lecturer in the second annual Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program. This, along with a dialogue about the shifting role of the CMO, was one of many significant insights during the first session of the program.

But what is a seasoned executive to do when it comes to leading change? And how does he or she build a dynamic, agile and fast-learning organization that stays two steps ahead of the market and evolving technologies?

To tackle these challenges head-on, participants hailing from technology companies to financial services firms, healthcare nonprofits to packaged goods organizations enhanced their expertise in four key areas.


The path to courageous organizational change can be challenging, but Sanjay Khosla, former EVP of Kraft Foods and Kellogg Senior Fellow, emphasized building brands with soul and the importance of executing against strategic plans. In Khosla’s words, “What do successful business strategy and a Lady Gaga concert have in common? Flawless execution.”

Market Orientation

The story of Harley-Davidson offered an inspiring example of company transformation to the group of 28 cross-industry executives. Professor Gregory Carpenter discussed his research on Harley’s market-focused resurgence from struggling also-ran to industry leader, which the firm accomplished by developing a market-centric culture that fueled operational change but, more important, innovation and growth.

Gaining a strong customer understanding paved the way for Harley’s powerful comeback, Carpenter illustrated in his remarks. "Think about customer’s lives, not just customers as buyers of your product …Some executives, doctors and lawyers seek to regain a lost sense of personal freedom, individuality and be part of a community. Harley offers that experience and many customers have found it impossible to resist.”


Want innovation to be your lifeblood? A panel of CMOs from ULTA, Kraft Foods and Discover said the key to an agile company is exposing people to a variety of roles, on cross-functional teams, and explicitly considering agility a requirement for promotion.

Professor Florian Zettelmeyer shared that in the era of big data, measurement can “create the illusion of insight.” According to Zettelmeyer, the smart approach starts with defining the value of the business problem you want to solve in order to determine what data matters.


While CMO program participants have already demonstrated tremendous talent and impact, they are poised for making their next big move. “On the topic of self-development,” says Professor Eric Leininger, “how to let go of historical strengths in order to make a broader organizational impact is critical.”

Though the Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program is only in its second year, the response has been especially strong. What are leading companies saying about the program? According to Clive Sirkin, Chief Marketing Officer at Kimberly Clark, “We believe learning agility is a strong predictor of success, which is why this is a go-to program for us.” His support was echoed by Mark Demich, the Vice President of Leadership Development at Hyatt, who shared that the program provides “a foundational development experience…It’s a deep, rich and impactful program.”

Having returned to their organizations, participants are undertaking meaningful action learning projects, receiving regular feedback from expert mentors. They reconvene for the second session in late June.