Fun with tenure metrics

At last week’s meeting of the CMO Community, a representative of the executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart mentioned that the average tenure for Chief Marketing Officers at U.S. companies is 28 months, up five months from 2006.  Great news, I thought, given my profession.

However, remembering the earlier confusion on CFO tenure,  I decided to do some fact checking before celebrating.  I couldn’t find recent research on their web site but I did find this article in B2B which repeated the conclusion.  I should have stopped there.

Bob Van Rossum, another executive recruiter, claims that the average CMO tenure is only 18 months. Others claim it’s 23 months.  Or maybe it’s 26 months. Sigh.

Since all of these reports appear reputable and they are all recent, I can only chalk up the discrepency to differences in measurements.  U.S. only vs. world-wide.  Top 100 vs. a larger sample.  Voluntary vs. involuntary termination. 

The morale of the story?  The defintion of a metric is at least as important as the measurement itself.

3 Responses to Fun with tenure metrics

  1. Oski says:

    I wonder if this average is the mean or median. I would be shocked if it’s a median given (assuming the majority of terminations are involuntary) it really is pretty hard to judge the impact of any CxO in 18 – 24 months.

    My guess is a few people strikeout within the first few months and drag the overall mean down.

  2. MktgMan says:

    Mean or median, I wonder if CMOs leave because the CEO that hired them leaves. If so, tenure is the wrong metric. Instead it should be something like C-level turnover.

  3. Jonathan says:

    According to this older Spencer Stuart report, there is little correlation between CEO and CMO tenure.

    Click to access CMO_brochureU1.pdf

    Within the food industry alone, the CEO tenure is 47.5 months, compared to an astounding 12 months for the CMO.

    Most people believe that cause for such short marketing tenures expectations — both from the CEO and the other C-level execs. CMOs need to spend more time up front setting objectives that align with everyone else’s.

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