Rise of the digital CMO: “The day will come sooner than we think”

The rise of the digital CMO is imminent. And it is going to happen probably sooner than we think.

In a conversation with Marketing, Wendy Heng, associate director of sales and marketing, healthcare, supply chain and procurement at recruitment firm Robert Walters said by simply observing how consumers interact with brands, it is evident that it will be beneficial for companies if CMOs come from a digital background.

(Read also: Why it’s tough for digital folks to become CMOs)

While she believes this revolution might happen as soon as the next five years, she was quick to admit that for more traditional organisation such as FMCG brands this might take a little longer. However, at this point of the game, finding good digital marketers across most industries, she says, is still a challenge.

“Digital marketing is up and coming – and a lot of roles we recruit are based on either broad based digital marketing managers or specialist roles such as SEO specialist, social media, and digital analyst. However in this arena, Singapore is still relatively young compared to markets such as US and UK and it’s a struggle to find right talent,” she explained

So where does one find great digital talent?

According to Heng, clients looking to make marketing hires in Singapore generally prefer those with regional exposure and with both client and agency side experience.

But when it comes to digital they are more open.

When clients come knocking on her door for good digital candidates, Heng often tries to convince them to pull in talent from the agency side because agencies definitely have stronger talent pools. Geographically as well, clients are also more willing to take in candidates who might not have worked in the region because digital capabilities are not bounded by locations.

Nonetheless, a good sign seems to be that currently 82% of overseas Singaporeans are keen to return home given the right incentives after gaining overseas exposure. This number, read a recent Robert Walters study, cuts across industries such as sales and marketing; accounting & finance, compliance, human resources, information technology, sales & Marketing Banking & Financial Services Technical Healthcare.

Heng explains that this could be because there is a huge shift in focus in APAC and Singapore has many APAC and regional structures in place.

“Many returning locals and foreign talent alike, move here for greaterexposure and opportunities. Being the APAC hub, in Singapore you really get more market exposure,” she said.

Keeping the talent is still a challenge

Heng admits that has learnt to accept the fact that people no longer stay in companies for decades. While in areas such as marketing or in house communications, the average lifespan is about 3 years, in digital it is as low as 18 months.

“It used to floor me when people move in just 18 months but in the world of digital, people are driven by things they are able to do. So while some companies might sell millennials the dream of going digital, they might not be able to evolve fast enough and hence people move,” she said.

She explained that millennials are also always looking for the next big challenge and these might come as often as every two-three months.

“Millennials are not as interested in depth as breadth and for many progression is not vertical it is about making or experiencing something different,” she said.

(Photo courtesy: Shutterstock)

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