CMO50 class of 2019: Where are they now?

With 2020 CMO50 nominations open, we take a look at the 16 chief marketing officers who've changed roles since our 2019 CMO50 list was revealed


It’s nominations time for the CMO50, the annual list of the most effective and innovative marketing leaders across the country. As we look to hear from those who’ll make our 2020 ranks, the CMO team decided to look at our 2019 over-achievers to see who has since spread their wings to seek new professional opportunities.

As we’ve witnessed every year since the CMO50 debuted, there’s no shortage of movement across chief marketing officer ranks. Since announcing the 2019 list, 16 of our CMO50 honoraries have moved on from the positions they were recognised for, either internally through new roles, or by seeking fresh external opportunities.

Notably, three CMOs have stepped up from the top marketing job into company leadership across Australia and New Zealand. Others have left after significant tenures and programs of work to pursue new consulting or other professional endeavours, while several have taken up newly created CMO or chief customer officer roles in order to drive new business expansion.

Here, we round-up the movers and shaker and where they are now.

The top 25

CMO50 2019 Number one: Steve Brennen

Just weeks after taking the top spot in the CMO50 2019 list, Uber’s director of marketing had switched gears with a newly chief customer officer role at next-generation payments darling, Zip Co.

Brennen is one of Australia’s most well-known marketing leaders, with more than 20 years’ experience in sales, marketing and management. Prior to spending nearly three years heading up Uber’s marketing across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, he was with eBay, where he oversaw marketing, brand and PR for four years. His resume also includes roles with PayPal and Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media and chair of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA).

Speaking of his new role and remit with Zip Co to CMO last year, Brennen was excited by the opportunity to help the fintech player disrupt both Australia’s payments market as well as go global.

“As we continue to innovate, I believe we have a unique opportunity to enable millions of consumers and retail partners to make better payment decisions,” Brennen said at the time.

CMO50 2019 number three: Paul Connell

Paul Connell, the former general manager and marketing chief of Unilever’s refreshments division, who spent more than 12 years with the FMCG giant, left in late 2019 to pursue new professional opportunities.

One of these was his consulting group, Build on Purpose, aimed at helping other organisations build out a more comprehensive approach to brand purpose. The consulting group draws on Connell’s experience at Unilever as the global business strives to aggressively cut its environmental impact and lift its sustainability credentials.

CMO50 2019 number nine: David McNeil

Following the sale of Campbell international business and Arnott’s to KKR for $3.2 billion in late 2019, David McNeil exited the FMCG business in January. He promptly re-emerged as the new Pacific managing director of games, toy and entertainment company, Hasbro, becoming one of the select few CMO50 to step up to the top company job.

McNeil initially joined Campbell Arnott’s as chief marketing officer for Asia-Pacific, being before given an extended international role in April 2018. Speaking on the move to Hasbro, he said he was looking forward to overseeing a raft of well-known and loved brands such as Monopoly, My Little Pony and Transformers.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with great people and iconic consumer brands over the past 30 years and Hasbro has both in abundance,” McNeil said upon his appointment.

CMO50 2019 number 15: Jayne Andrews

After six years with Carnival Cruise Line Australia, Jayne Andrews set sail for the US in late 2019 after securing the senior director of brand and advertising role for the cruise operator, based in Miami.

Reflecting on the Australian role that saw her appear on the CMO50 for several years, Andrews told CMO her time with Carnival Cruise Line Australia had been like joining a startup “with big brand backing”, giving her the opportunity to get involved in marketing through to PR, digital, CRM and localisation of product developments.

CMO50 50 2019 number 17: Tamara Howe

The second of CMO’s class of CMO50 for 2019 to step up from CMO to company leadership is Kellogg Australia’s former marketing and corporate affairs director, Tamara Howe. The 16-year FMCG business veteran was promoted to general manager of Kellogg’s New Zealand business in April.

In discussing the new role, Howe told CMO she knew it was time to take on a fresh challenge professionally. “We have some really exciting plans to roll out in the NZ market and I’m looking forward to activating these initiatives that will enable growth for our business and our industry,” she said.

CMO50 2019 number 19: Paul Stern

Kathmandu former general manager of marketing and online, Paul Stern, is another who held varied roles across the retail brand before opting to pursue new professional opportunities in early 2020. During his 10 years with the business, he not only spearheaded international expansion plans but also steered Kathmandu’s sustainability efforts, drove ecommerce and online business and transformed its customer engagement efforts.

Reflecting on his achievements to CMO in March, Stern highlighted growth in the online business from $2 million to $50 million, eight consecutive years of double-digit sales and profit growth, Kathmandu’s sustainability plan and BCorp certification, a brand refresh program and international growth as key ones.

As for new professional challenges, Stern said he’s planning to stay in Melbourne and look for broader opportunities that utilise his wide-ranging skillset. CMO hears a company director’s course was the first thing completed on the post-Kathmandu list.

CMO50 2019 number 19: Louise Eyres

After a three-year stint as the first executive general manager of marketing, customer insights and digital for Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission), Louise Eyres announced her return to the financial services space with a CMO post at Vanguard Investments.

The Sports Australia role was not without its challenges as the agency took on the role of leading Australia’s national agenda to improve sport and physical activities participation. Among the achievements listed in her 2019 submission, Eyres highlighted four big projects: On-boarding a full suite of agency partners; implementing a comprehensive program of quantitative and qualitative consumer research to identify trigger points to be addressed; rebranding ASC to Sport Australia; and developing and implementing a national behaviour change program. This required a complete rebuild of the organisation, with Eyres developing the strategy and lead the agenda into the board.

In making the switch to Vanguard Investments as its first head of marketing in November last year, Eyres cited the group’s global position, market reputation and strong, purpose-led culture as key reasons behind her decision to join. The company boasts of $6.8 trillion in assets under management.

CMO50 2019 number 21: Suzanne Morrison

After a 17-year career with Mars and Wrigley businesses in Australia, which culminated in the chief marketing officer’s post for Mars Wrigley Confectionary, Suzanne Morrison left late in 2019 to assume the CEO’s post at Wanderlust. The yoga movement and wellness business has a raft of events, festivals, studios and media products all aimed at elevating yoga as a lifestyle.

Up next: The career moves of our CMO50 2019 class, #26-50

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