LivingSocial CMO Showcases Diverse Career Path Needed for Today's Leaders

Judge Is Exhibit a of 'Mosaic' Background Executives Should Possess

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The appointment of Barry Judge as CMO of LivingSocial illustrates the eclectic career path of highly successful marketing executives today, across multiple companies, industries and marketing channels.

Caren Fleit
Caren Fleit

When you look at his background, you can see that Mr. Judge possesses broad expertise both offline and online, and in social media -- crucial at LivingSocial, which ranks No. 2 among "daily deal" websites behind Groupon. Mr. Judge had been CMO and exec VP for marketing and strategy at Best Buy, in charge of omni-channel marketing and creating customer experiences in stores and online. Mr. Judge, whose previous positions span agency, multi-unit retail, consumer packaged goods companies, and international experience, demonstrates the kind of breadth that companies are looking for today.

As his career path and his new role demonstrate, CMOs today must broaden their expertise well beyond traditional marketing by developing the coveted technology and social-media skills that translate into digital connectivity to enhance customer understanding and customer experience. According to the CMO Council's recent "State of Marketing report," nearly two-thirds (63%) of senior marketers are looking to solidify their social-media strategy in 2013, yet only 18% feel that they have the skills, talent and budget to fully exploit the potential of digital customer engagement.

For senior executives, the ease of embracing and navigating multiple industries and channels reflects what we at Korn/Ferry call "learning agility" -- a key success factor that demonstrates the flexibility and savvy to apply past learning to new and unfamiliar experiences. This agility is critical for best-in-class marketers to be successful in the brave new world of marketing today with new social-media tools. Marketing executives need to be on top of new technologies to engage consumers and create loyalty. One example is gamification, which according to Gartner, will be used by 70% of the Global 2000 largest companies by 2014.

In addition to technology, globalization and having access to "big data" have changed the marketing paradigm. More and more, power has shifted to consumers and customers, whose expectations are higher. As a result, the pace of everything has changed and complexity is greater than ever -- as are the repercussions.

If that weren't enough, even more is being expected of CMOs and senior marketing leaders, beyond their responsibilities to build brands, create effective marketing campaigns, and communicate the wants and needs of consumers within their organization. These tasks, which are highly important in themselves, are joined by a bigger, overarching demand: working across multiple functions and geographies to produce measurable business results. In short, CMOs are helping to transform the business.

With such high and broad expectations, it's no wonder that talent development is challenging for organizations these days. On one hand, they need specialists with in-depth expertise, often in technical niche areas (digital, mobile, social, CRM, online gaming, etc.). On the other, they need generalists who can think strategically and integrate strategies and pull together the efforts of the specialists within the overarching mission and objectives of the business. At many organizations, there is a bifurcation of talent. Specialists typically lack the broader leadership skills and generalists often do not possess enough in-depth knowledge in new-world marketing and activities.

Furthermore, all marketers are not created equal. Some are more focused on brand, or promotional strategy, or product launch. In order to achieve a successful result, within the marketing function and for the company as a whole, it's essential for organizations today to have the right marketing leader in the right place at the right time -- the right balance of capabilities that best align with the business mandate.

Often, marketing leaders who are successful have a "mosaic" background, for example, the kind that Barry Judge demonstrates. This enables them to take best practices and adapt them to different industries and companies to create unique and impactful consumer experiences.

Also of note, best-in-class marketing leaders demonstrate core competencies that are highly valued in the CMO role today: creating the new and different, which involves pushing boundaries, using breakthrough thinking, and collaborating with others with diverse perspectives; focusing on actions and outcomes, having a bottom line orientation and balancing analysis with action; and inspiring others, creating a motivated, high-performing team. These competencies extend beyond the all-important activities of building brands and targeting customers, to unleash energy and passion as marketing leaders transform how business is done.

Marketing leaders today must have the flexibility, savvy and genuine passion and engagement to not only adapt to the new, but to catalyze it in the ever-changing world of marketing.

In his new role, Mr. Judge will draw upon myriad experiences from his "mosaic" background. He will also need to leverage his learning agility to drive success at LivingSocial in the ever-changing world in which it competes.

Caren Fleit is leader of Korn/Ferry International's Marketing Center of Expertise. She is a senior client partner in the firm's consumer/retail practice, based in New York City. Korn/Ferry International is the world's largest executive recruiting firm and premier global provider of talent management solutions.
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