10 career backgrounds you wouldn’t expect chief marketing officers to have

Todays CMOs come from a vast variety of professional backgrounds - here's proof

At CMO, we often talk to marketing leaders who came into the job without any formal qualifications or indeed, any initial aspirations to do to so.

Here, we highlight 10 Australian CMOs who started their professional lives in very different roles and circumstances, and how these unique experiences have led them to their current leadership positions.

Christopher Coyne, CMO, Crown Resorts

Coyne’s background couldn’t be more different from his current position as marketing leader for the Crown Resorts group of luxury properties and casinos.

He started training as a medical doctor in the UK, but was forced to rethink his career after suffering a severe brain haemorrhage in a car accident in his early 20s. Facing five years away from that field, he took his father’s advice and “changed tack”, focusing on banking.

Coyne picked GE and joined the company’s Melbourne office in 1999, where he enjoyed a successful 18 months in Australia and throughout Asia. He returned to the UK and worked for GE in mainland Europe and the US before switching into the digital field at John Lewis as the retailer established its highly successful online portal.

From there, Coyne joined BT as head of marketing, then online betting site, Paddy Power, where he was firstly head of gaming and then promoted to head of paddpower.com, including its online and mobile sportsbook.

In January 2014, Coyne joined Crown back in Australia as its first CMO with an executive seat at the table, spearheading the marketing effort globally.

Christopher Coyne
Christopher Coyne


David Robinson, CMO, David Jones

Robinson did study marketing and PR at university, completing a joint marketing and finance/commerce degree, and his first role was in PR. But his career quickly took a different spin and he’s spent most of his time working in all manner of operational roles within retail.

The list includes six years with Shell working around Australia in a number of different retail positions including distribution, property development and select stores.

Robinson then joined David Jones 18 years ago, and claims he’s “part of the furniture, having worked in every nook and cranny of this business”. It’s this retail experience that eventually saw him come into the CMO role.

For the past two years, Robinson has been leading a transformation of David Jones’ marketing function, using customer insights, digital channels, content and data as his tools for change. Before this, he developed and led the retailer’s omni-channel retail (OCR) strategy, reporting directly to the CEO and working in collaboration with IT, marketing, merchandising and operational teams.

David Robinson
David Robinson


Melina Cruickshank, chief marketing and editorial officer, Domain

She might have a marketing and editorial bent now, but Cruickshank’s first job after finishing university and relocating to the Northern Territory was to work for Rio Tinto as an environmental coordinator.

“It was really interesting to do that work – it’s a big company, with lots of training, and this was just as the Internet was exploding,” she told CMO in a recent interview. “I then went to London and worked in a small ecommerce digital agency startup just as the dot-com boom crashing.

“I think everyone should do time in an agency – you learn to treat people with respect.”

Cruickshank’s background since then has had a distinct digital and publishing bent. She has been with Fairfax since 2005, launching affiliate brands such as Essential Baby, Traveller and Daily Life and growing their audiences to about 1 million unique visitors per month.

Since joining the Domain team 18 months ago, Cruickshank has built a new division of 55 staff from scratch, pooling together journalists with audience marketers into a single content and audience team.

“People are obsessed with property, and if we can communicate to them in an authentic manner about property and gain their trust, we’re going to grow our reach,” she said.

Melina Cruickshank
Melina Cruickshank


David Redhill, CMO, Deloitte

Redhill’s background is as varied as his views on the marketer’s role. Starting out as a poet and short story writer at school, he completed a communications degree and looked to forge a career in journalism while maintaining his interests in photography and music.

Redhill’s first position after graduating was with mainframe computing company, ICL Computers, covering PR and communications. He opted to then travel through Southeast Asia as a freelance journalist and photographer before spending two years in Spain, then relocating to London. At this point, he became European communications editor for PriceWaterhouse’s corporate publication and helped launch desktop publishing across the business.

He followed this up with a stint at Landor Associates, one of the world’s leading corporate identity consultancy groups that spearheaded the rise of brand design thinking. That experience led to a year-long project with the Financial Times producing the first European-wide study on branding design in consumer goods. Redhill then became the worldwide head of marketing and communications at Landor Associates in San Francisco, where he launched the first brand research tool, Image Power.

For two years afterwards, Redhill rode the dotcom rollercoaster with several startups before being recruited to Deloitte Consulting.

Since 2003, Redhill has been the CMO at Deloitte in Australia and at the forefront of the group’s transformation strategy.

David RedhillCredit: Deloitte
David Redhill


Cameron Kerr, director and chief executive, Taronga Zoo

The professional life Taronga Zoo’s leader and former senior marketer has really come full circle.

Kerr started career in science research and development, spending four years looking into animal health and physiology. It was only then that he decided to do a Masters degree in organisational behaviour and marketing.

“I wanted to test my marketing in a field I had no technical advantage in, so I moved into haircare and joined Schwarzkof as a product manager, which was quite a change,” he told CMO in an interview. “The main reason for wanted to do that was test my marketing in an environment where I had no product knowledge. I then went to work as senior product manager then national marketing manager at Wella, then to a pharmaceutical company across the consumer healthcare range.”

In 2000, a senior marketing role came up at Taronga and Kerr leapt on it. He worked in marketing for a number of years, before taking an operations role and the finally, the top job in 2009.

Cameron Kerr
Cameron Kerr

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