More C-suite titles join the upper ranks as CEOs make growth & digital transformation their top priority
Erica Seidel, founder of executive recruiting firm The Connective Good, says expansion of C-level roles reflects a growing professionalism and specialization among business leaders.
According to Gartner’s 2017 CEO survey, 58 percent of respondents said growth was their top business priority this year. In addition to business leaders focusing on growth, the survey revealed that product improvement and technology were rising priorities among CEOs.
“Almost twice as many CEOs are intent on building up in-house technology and digital capabilities as those [who] plan on outsourcing it,” reports Gartner Vice President and Fellow Mark Raskino.
Raskino says the survey findings represent the “…building up of new-era technology skills and capabilities.”
As digital transformation and technology initiatives take center stage, so do the people put in place to manage these business efforts. Already, many companies have decided the traditional C-suite roles of CEO, COO, CFO, CIO and CMO no longer suffice when it comes to executive leadership needs.
CIOs and CTOs are now joined by CISOs (chief information security officers), CAOs (chief analytics officers) and CDOs (chief digital officers). The CMO has a new partner as well, with more and more marketing and technology leaders earning CMTO (chief marketing technology officer) roles.
What’s driving the expansion of C-suite titles
Erica Seidel, founder of The Connective Good, a recruiting firm specializing in executive marketing, technology and analytic positions, says some of the new titles she has seen include Chief Customer Officer, Chief Growth Officer, Chief Data Officer and Chief AI Officer (AI for artificial intelligence).
Seidel believes the growing list of new C-level titles within B2B marketing reflects a growing professionalism and specialization among business leaders.
“The proliferation of these ‘Chief XXX’ titles is due to a combination of candidates having more clout than employers in a strong economy, titles being free, and talent managing their personal brand as they look ahead to the next step,” says Seidel, “In other words, candidates will often shape how their role is defined and in some cases ask for different titles, and get them as part of the negotiation process.”
Seidel’s recent business experiences coincide with Gartner’s survey findings that CEOs are focused on growth.
“In my recruiting work, I’ve noticed that if I put someone with ‘growth’ in their title in front of a CEO and also someone with ‘marketing’ in their title, all things equal, the CEO prefers the ‘growth’ person,” says Seidel.
How non-traditional C-level roles impact business outcomes
In July of this year, Geoff Dodge was named chief growth officer for PebblePost, a startup company that offers a programmatic direct mail solution for marketers.
“My focus as Chief Growth Officer is exploring all the possible ways to find users of the Programmatic Direct Mail platform, and importantly once we find them, converting those people into happy customers,” says Dodge.
After holding senior VP-level sales and communications roles for companies like AOL and Salesforce, Dodge says his previous leadership positions are not that far off from what he’s doing now.
“As the creator of an entirely new channel, we have a lot of runway to work with. The questions we’ll face don’t differ too much from my past experience, and I’ll bring a lot of that knowledge to bear in this role,” says Dodge.
Sue Bergamo is another executive who has expanded her leadership experience into a non-traditional C-suite role.
“I came in as both the CIO and CISO of Episerver in July,” says Bergamo, “Coming in as the company’s first CIO to take on this broader CISO role, I will focus on the long-term IT strategy, as well as Episerver’s dedication to security and risk strategies.”
Bergamo is part of Episerver’s eight-person executive team that also includes a chief technology officer, chief sales officer and chief customer officer. She says today’s CIOs need to be aware of the happenings in their company’s business environment and have an overall knowledge of security.
“There really is no silo between the two roles anymore,” says Bergamo, referring to the relationship between her position as CIO and CISO, “The CIO is responsible for protecting corporate assets and keeping the company up and running.”
The expansion of C-level roles doesn’t only speak to the ever-growing landscape of business directives, but also to the need for interconnection between business operations.
As Appirio’s CMO, Latane Conant says her company’s CHRO (chief human resources officer) and CLO (chief learning officer) play a primary role in the success of her marketing team.
“My BFFs on the executive team are our CHRO and CLO,” says Conant, “These two functions are critical because people bring the brand to life.”
Conant believes CMOs must serve employees as well as customers, “To deliver truly exceptional customer experiences, business leaders need to first empower their employees’ experiences.”
The MarTech Today C-suite glossary
While there is no exact science to determine how the C-suite will continue to grow and expand, it appears businesses are more than happy to embrace new C-level titles. The most confusing aspect may be knowing exactly what the chief officer’s role is within the company as more chief-officer-acronyms are created.
To help, we’ve put together the following list of C-suite titles that fall outside the traditional leadership roles.
CAAO — Chief Applications Architect Officer
CAO — Chief Analytics Officer
CAO — Chief Automation Officer
CBO — Chief Behavioral Officer
CBO — Chief Brand Officer
CCO — Chief Customer Officer
CDO — Chief Data Officer
CDO — Chief Digital Officer
CEO — Chief E-commerce Officer
CEO — Chief Ecosystems Officer
CGO — Chief Growth Officer
CHRO — Chief Human Resources Officer
CIE — Chief Internet Evangelist
CIO — Chief Innovation Officer
CISO — Chief Information Security Officer
CITO — Chief Information Technology Officer
CKO — Chief Knowledge Officer
CLO — Chief Learning Officer
CMTO — Chief Marketing Technology Officer
CPO — Chief Product Officer
CPO — Chief Privacy Officer
CRO — Chief Risk Officer
CRO — Chief Revenue Officer
CSO — Chief Security Officer
CSO — Chief Strategy Officer
CSO — Chief Sustainability Officer
CXO — Chief Experience Officer (also referred to as the CUEO — Chief User Experience Officer)