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What's the product marketing career path towards senior management (VP, CMO..etc)?

4 Answers
Jason Perocho
Jason Perocho
Amperity SVP, Head of MarketingMarch 11

The path towards senior management is anything but a straight line. The best product marketers I've encountered worked in something other than product marketing early in their careers. These roles include sales, demand gen, or engineering. 


Personally, I career transitioned a lot in my 20s and pursued whatever interested me. I started by studying IT (Database systems) and was an engineer, wrote speeches in the government, became a product manager in the Pentagon, and then became a product marketer. I did not  "move up" quickly, but rather was building a wide range of skills that I'd eventually use as a PMM. That skillset helped me move fairly quickly in my 30s because I understood what each stakeholder was looking for and how to best work with them. 


Once you have your foot in the door as a PMM, you have two options. You can specialize in a specific area or become a generalist. There's no wrong career path. You can make it to VP by being the best Sales Enablement or Market Programs lead out there. In order to make it to CMO, then you need to have a firm grasp of each area in addition to functions found in corporate marketing like campaigns.

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Dana Barrett
Dana Barrett
Tremendous VP of MarketingOctober 16

I don’t think there is a typical career path to get to VP or CMO. That said, many CMOs for tech companies have product marketing experience, so it's a good place to start if your ultimate goal is to be a CMO. From my perspective, the VPs and CMOs that I admire most have often worked in a range of roles across Marketing (and sometimes even Sales), so they have a wide range of experiences and skills to draw upon. They are strong managers who are able to build high performing teams because good people want to work for them, and they know how to set a bold vision and mobilize a team to execute that vision.

My suggestion is to invest the time and focus required to build the skills you need to be an exceptional leader. I often see folks early in their career overly focused on promotions and titles versus the skills and experience they need to build to become a strong leader. I am not saying that you should not advocate for yourself, or ask for a deserved promotion, but don’t make that your only goal.

My advice is to try to get a broad range of experiences early in your career as an IC. Try two or three different roles across Marketing and/or Sales depending on your interests. This is also a good time to hone your abilities to work with cross functional partners and problem solve. Then, shift your focus to building your scope and managing a team. Start by managing a small team (2 or 3 people), so you can learn how to be an effective manager. Work on your ability to delegate and to mobilize your team to set and achieve big goals. When you have mastered managing, focus on taking on bigger roles until you reach your goal, whether that is to be a VP of a function or a CMO. Good luck on your journey.

21766 Views
Mike Flouton
Mike Flouton
GitLab VP, ProductNovember 17

Typically you start as an individual contributor PMM, then move into a director of PMM role. In midsize and larger companies, you would move into a VP of PMM role next. From there, you would usually move into a VP of Marketing role. It's fairly rare to jump straight into a CMO role from VP PMM, but it can happen, particularly in smaller companies. But it's a lot to ask of someone who has never owned brand, comms, creative and demand generation before and most organizations will start you out at VPM to leave themselves the option to bring in a CMO above you if you don't pick up the non-PMM pieces quickly. 

 

The good new is that PMM is by far the hardest and most strategic function in marketing, so most CEOs now have a bias for CMOs who came up through the PMM ranks. 

778 Views
Huzaifa Dalal
Huzaifa Dalal
JFrog Senior Director Product MarketingMarch 1

I believe as a PMM you should have an awesome read on the business. As a PMM you should have responsbility of the product and/or product portfolio - this will give you insight into comms, creative, demand gen, sales enablement and other functions in the organization. This clarity or control can be leveraged in getting a seat on the strategy table. Try searching for a seat on the table, not a title - this will give you industry wide leadership, will help you earn trust, and will make you seasoned and proven, which can leverage in your growth or search for titles

618 Views
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