Revealing the CMO50
2022 list

Recognising Australia’s innovative
and most effective marketing leaders

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CMO50 2022

  • 1

    Mim Haysom

    Suncorp Group

    Executive general manager, brand and marketing

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  • 2

    Geoff Ikin


    Chief customer officer

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  • 3

    Andy Morley


    Director of marketing A/NZ

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  • 4

    Mel Hopkins


    Vice-president marketing

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  • 5

    Charlotte Valente

    Seven West Media

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 6

    Yash Gandhi


    Head of marketing

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  • 7

    Andrew Hicks

    Woolworths Group

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 8

    Dan Ferguson

    Adore Beauty

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 9

    Ryan Gracie


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 10

    Jenni Dill

    The Arnott's Group

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 11

    Susan Coghill

    Tourism Australia

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 12

    Nikki Clarkson

    Southern Cross Austereo

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 13

    Kate Whitney

    Marley Spoon

    Chief marketing and growth officer

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  • 14

    Lara Thom

    Guzman Y Gomez

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 15

    Jo Feeney

    Michael Hill Jeweller

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 16

    Joanne Smith

    Blackmores Group

    Chief marketing and innovation officer

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  • 17

    Suzana Ristevski

    National Australia Bank

    Executive, group marketing

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  • 18

    Manelle Merhi

    Kennards Hire

    GM marketing and customer experience

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  • 19

    Mark Renshaw


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 20

    Ashley Hughes

    Red Rooster (Craveable Brands)

    Director of marketing

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  • 21

    Megan Keleher

    Great Southern Bank

    Chief customer officer

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  • 22

    Jason Piggott

    Freedom Furniture

    GM customer and marketing

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  • 23

    Aisling Finch


    Senior director of marketing A/NZ

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  • 24

    Jessica Richmond


    GM marketing and insights

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  • 25

    Seb Brandt

    Ingham's Group

    Chief marketing officer

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26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

  • Ben Hill

    Mars Wrigley Australia

    Marketing director

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  • Bethaney George

    True Foods

    General manager, sales, marketing, category and innovation

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  • Caitlin Bancroft

    Collective Wellness Group (Anytime Fitness)

    Chief Marketing Officer

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  • Caroline Raj


    Senior director and head of marketing, A/NZ

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  • Caroline Ruddick

    Maurice Blackburn

    General manager, marketing

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  • Cath Brands

    Flintfox International

    Chief marketing and innovation officer

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  • Chaminda Ranasinghe

    RMIT University

    Chief experience officer

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  • Emma Terry

    Tourism Tasmania

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Fabian Marrone

    Monash University

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Joanna Robinson


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Kristy Keyte

    Penfolds (Treasury Wine Estates)

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Louise Ardagh

    HBF Health

    General manager, marketing and engagement

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  • Maria Loyez

    Australian Ethical Investment

    Chief customer officer

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  • Natalie Lockwood


    VP, head of marketing

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  • Oonagh Flanagan


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Paul Chatfield

    Mondelez International

    Vice-president marketing A/NZ

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  • Paul Gloster

    Lyre’s Spirit Co

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Philippa Durant

    Expedia Group

    APAC activation director

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  • Sarah Myers

    REA Group

    General manager, audience and marketing

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  • Scott Bowie

    Moet & Hennessy

    Marketing and consumer engagement director

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  • Shae Keenan

    Visit Victoria

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Sofia Lloyd-Jones

    University of NSW

    Director of future students (CMO)

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  • Steffen Daleng


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Tasman Page

    Employment Hero

    Marketing director

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  • Tony Quarmby

    Tourism Northern Territory

    Executive director, marketing

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Ones to Watch (In alphabetical order)

  • Michaela Chan

    West HQ

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Kathryn Illy

    Destination NSW

    General manager, consumer marketing

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  • Michael Nearhos


    Executive director, marketing

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Mim Haysom Executive general manager, brand and marketing Suncorp Group
Geoff Ikin Chief customer officer Myer
Andy Morley Director of marketing A/NZ Uber
Mel Hopkins Vice-president marketing Optus
Charlotte Valente Chief marketing officer Seven West Media
Yash Gandhi Head of marketing Baiada
Andrew Hicks Chief marketing officer Woolworths Group
Dan Ferguson Chief marketing officer Adore Beauty
Ryan Gracie Chief marketing officer MyDeal
Jenni Dill Chief marketing officer The Arnott's Group
Susan Coghill Chief marketing officer Tourism Australia
Nikki Clarkson Chief marketing officer Southern Cross Austereo
Kate Whitney Chief marketing and growth officer Marley Spoon
Lara Thom Chief marketing officer Guzman Y Gomez
Jo Feeney Chief marketing officer Michael Hill Jeweller
Joanne Smith Chief marketing and innovation officer Blackmores Group
Suzana Ristevski Executive, group marketing National Australia Bank
Manelle Merhi GM marketing and customer experience Kennards Hire
Mark Renshaw Chief marketing officer SiteMinder
Ashley Hughes Director of marketing Red Rooster (Craveable Brands)
Megan Keleher Chief customer officer Great Southern Bank
Jason Piggott GM customer and marketing Freedom Furniture
Aisling Finch Senior director of marketing A/NZ Google
Jessica Richmond GM marketing and insights Officeworks
Seb Brandt Chief marketing officer Ingham's Group

26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

Ben HillMarketing directorMars Wrigley Australia
Bethaney GeorgeGeneral manager, sales, marketing, category and innovationTrue Foods
Caitlin BancroftChief Marketing OfficerCollective Wellness Group (Anytime Fitness)
Caroline RajSenior director and head of marketing, A/NZServiceNow
Caroline RuddickGeneral manager, marketingMaurice Blackburn
Cath BrandsChief marketing and innovation officerFlintfox International
Chaminda RanasingheChief experience officerRMIT University
Emma TerryChief marketing officerTourism Tasmania
Fabian MarroneChief marketing officerMonash University
Joanna RobinsonChief marketing officerChatime
Kristy KeyteChief marketing officerPenfolds (Treasury Wine Estates)
Louise ArdaghGeneral manager, marketing and engagementHBF Health
Maria LoyezChief customer officerAustralian Ethical Investment
Natalie LockwoodVP, head of marketingVisa
Oonagh FlanaganChief marketing officerFunlab
Paul ChatfieldVice-president marketing A/NZMondelez International
Paul GlosterChief marketing officerLyre’s Spirit Co
Philippa DurantAPAC activation directorExpedia Group
Sarah MyersGeneral manager, audience and marketingREA Group
Scott BowieMarketing and consumer engagement directorMoet & Hennessy
Shae KeenanChief marketing officerVisit Victoria
Sofia Lloyd-JonesDirector of future students (CMO)University of NSW
Steffen DalengChief marketing officerBooktopia
Tasman PageMarketing directorEmployment Hero
Tony QuarmbyExecutive director, marketingTourism Northern Territory

Ones to watch (In alphabetical order)

Michaela Chan Chief marketing officer West HQ
Kathryn Illy General manager, consumer marketing Destination NSW
Michael Nearhos Executive director, marketing Foxtel

To be on solid footing

Are marketers proving their contribution to business growth? Or are they more fixated on simply articulating outcomes? Is a rebrand really innovative marketing? Are we entering another golden age of marketers driving product innovation? How far can the CMO’s scope go? Is one marketer’s customer ‘journey’ the same as another’s? And are marketers capitalising on the moments that actually matter in the pursuit of growth?

These are just some of the questions the CMO50 judging panel explored as we set about the task of compiling the eighth edition of the CMO50, our annual list recognising Australia’s most innovative and effective marketers. Never an easy task, this year’s nominees traversed a broad array of perspectives, remit, budgets, industries, skillsets and complexity, demonstrating the continued diversity in role and executive standing.

Half of our top 50 this year are new entrants to the CMO50 list, including three of the top 10. It’s worth noting seven of the top 10 come from longstanding, iconic and heritage brands, four of which sit in the retail sector. Equally worth mentioning is 31 of the top 50 this year are women, the highest ratio ever recorded.

Given the movement in senior marketers over the past year, it may be surprising to learn average role tenure remains similar, year-on-year at 3 years and 3 months (2021: 3 years, 1 month; 2020: 3 year 5 months). Less surprising is the skew in the top 10 towards Australian owned, listed or majority owned organisations, with such roles offering marketers’ ability to wield a wider set of functional capabilities and prowess.

Proving marketing's worth

Judges this year were quick to see the imperative to prove marketing’s value as many nominees shifted to illustrate impact through customer journeys, purpose, brand positioning and business delivery. At one point, judges turned to the importance of CMOs capitalising on moments versus rebranding. The latter was clearly a popular task in the last year.

Many judges favoured a CMO’s ability to build on momentum and take advantage of a situation. These traits were seen as indicative of trust and confidence in brand strategy and a bold willingness to stick to the story. Judges also ranked highly marketers owning up to challenges, articulating available choices clearly, then showing how they’d made the most of choices they selected.

“Historically, if you look at who is making the top 10 of the CMO50, they understand the brand, understand the why, they take a moment in market and capitalise on it,” longstanding CMO50 judge and non-executive board director, Georgie Williams, said. “The best marketers in the country know their ‘why’ and are really good at what they do with their brands. When Qantas was recognised last year, for example, it wasn’t about changing the brand but doubling down harder in market to take advantage of an opportunity. It was a similar situation with Tourism Australia in 2018. The great marketers are confident enough to hold a brand narrative.”

Publicis Groupe chief, Michael Rebelo, saw a desire to rebrand and reposition playing out in briefs coming through the agency. While some is a desire to leave the last few years of the pandemic behind, Rebelo also saw ambition to counteract the shorter-term, performance activity dominating spend in recent years.

“With so much investment in bottom-of-funnel, smart marketers are realising they can’t just be talking to people in their organisations, they have to look at how to build brand for the long-term and attract new audiences,” he said. “Being very short-term focused is limiting and marketers are starting to see medium-term challenges resulting from this. There is a reckoning I believe happening given the proliferation of bottom-funnel marketing brands have invested in.”

Rebelo was also interested by the CMOs owning the commerce piece. “Usually, we have seen this in more tech-based platform businesses. It seems more traditional brands now see the value in the CMO owning commerce as well,” he said. Other judges noted examples of marketing chiefs driving product innovation this year, something expected in the world of 1990s Procter & Gamble but less prevalent over the last 10 years.

Impact versus storytelling

Former The a2 Milk Company CMO and non-executive board director, Susan Massasso, agreed to no shortage of achieving “double X, or double Y”, in submissions. She was keen to see more storytelling to support outcomes.

“I think this is very reflective of the environment CMOs sit in. There is not enough of a belief in the building of brands,” she commented. “Marketers are having to turn to defensive data to hold their position. So we’re seeing more of ‘I’ve achieved this and that, therefore I can justify what I’m doing’.

“I agree it’s also linked to the more recent emphasis on bottom-of-funnel activity. We’ve lost the art of telling a story and weaving a narrative. Some call this ‘purpose’, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be purpose. What it needs to be is an enduring story guiding the brand over many years.”

Several who exhibited this expertise were in long-term, heritage brands. “I can understand how hard it is [in an established, older brand]. The companies we saw spread from high growth to those challenged through Covid, to ones trying to find meaning in an older brand,” Massasso said. “Others have ridden the Covid wave. There was a bit of work unpacking the context when CMO50 judging.”

Former CMO and non-executive director, John Batistich, rewarded CMOs who were clear on strategy and goals. “Others I felt you had to dig and do the work. Customer journeys and personas were coming through. And there are still a wide range of performance measures,” he said. Batistich pointed to the connection between brand and employee branding and impact as another trend.

Andrew ‘Billy’ Baxter believed CMOs in bigger and more complex roles demonstrated refreshing maturity in the way they’re positioning their impact, particularly in global B2B roles. For Zuni MD, Mike Zeederberg, meanwhile, several nominations showed marketing becoming core to businesses, “rather than us just selling the stuff someone else came up with”.

“There were lots of entries featuring innovation… compared to previous years, and plenty of examples of marketers being involved in product and audience insights. Research has been dialled right up,” he said. “There were also several examples of CMOs working out where the gap was then coming up with some great work.”

For former CMO, marketing, leadership and business consultant and the CMO50’s longest serving judge, David Morgan, the question best summing up what judges looked for was: Has this person done what a CMO should do and grow a business?

“Can I hand on my heart say this person has done what the business requires of them? And can I attribute the growth to this person and their activity?” he asked. “When you do that, it’s quite easy to see there are a lot of folks in the middle, doing a great job of ‘jobbing’ and the mechanics of marketing. Rather than support the organisation, I want to see more marketers lead the organisation.

“As marketing moves forward as a function, we should be asking ourselves: Is growth what marketing is about anymore? Because too often, the function isn’t sitting at the growth table, which is c-level.

“If it’s not there, we need to think about where it does sit. But as someone who has been in marketing for a long time, I think we should be back there. So we need to find more ways as an industry to support them.”