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CMO Turnover at Nokia, and in General…

Nokia’s CMO Jerri DeVard is out of a job today, hitting the screen at 18 months.

(See: http://tiny.cc/crz3fw).

We have seen this many, many times in this role. Why is CMO job tenure often so short?

CMO’s come in three basic flavors. There is the Mar-Comm CMO, who has skills in branding and messaging and corporate communications. There is the Product CMO, who has come up through the product line or LOB ranks, with a successful background in Product Management and Product Marketing. Finally there is the Selling CMO, who has come up through sales and has run revenue centers for major geographical units.

So if you are the CEO and you need a new CMO, which flavor do you choose? You are not likely to find this three-fold capability in one person. The best you can do is to optimize your hiring spec for the strengths that are most currently needed. And then make sure that the CMO surrounds herself with strong colleagues who bring complementary skills.

Back to Nokia. If there was ever a company that needed (and still needs) a Product CMO, it is Nokia. I do not know Ms. DeVard personally, but a quick review of her biography would show that she is — not suprisingly — a classic Mar-Comm CMO. And she is probably a great Mar-Comm CMO! But just the wrong flavor for this struggling company, at this time.

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