CMO to CEO: How this marketer is juggling the demands of running a startup

We chat with former B2B marketer and now startup chief executive about the transition from marketing leadership to the top job

Building leadership cred

At a personal level, Latta says she’s aware of her own limitations and accepting those has been quite a learning curve as she earns her CEO stripes.

“I can talk about the tech to customers comfortably, but I won’t understand the coding structure and tech stack as much as my time and I have to be comfortable with that,” she says.  

Nevertheless, she admits it can feel quite isolating at the top, especially in a small business. “I can reach out to the board members for a sense check, but they don’t necessarily have the experience either,” Latta says.

“I reach out occasionally to previous bosses who are still mentors. But part of being CEO is also recognising the buck stops with you. If you have to make the call, just make sure you have the reasoning. So if there is ever a question, you feel confident you made the best decision at the time.”

It’s the variation in CMO roles Latta believes will ultimately help more marketers rise to CEO. In addition, she points to a career-long interest in sales figures and numbers as good preparation.

“I had commercial as well as marketing role at Thomson Reuters, so the financials were always important and that translates to being successful in this role,” she says. “And I’ve always taken an interest in the numbers regardless of what numbers they are in the business. My advice is to take strong interest in all the numbers, not just marketing numbers.”

With so many marketers gaining tech prowess in recent years, Latta also sees CMOs as well-equipped with broader tech knowledge they can expand outside the marketing realm.

“The broader knowledge and skillset you build, the better placed you are to move to these different roles,” Latta concludes.

“You’ll never know everything. There are always areas you are strong in, versus those you’re not so interested in, and that’s OK. That’s being a normal human being. But if you don’t have that knowledge, find someone in the business you can trust to run things effectively.”  

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