2021 revealed! Announcing the
2021 CMO50

Recognising Australia's innovative and most effective marketing leaders

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CMO50 2021

  • 1

    Jo Boundy


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 2

    Mim Haysom

    Suncorp Group

    Executive general manager, brand and marketing

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  • 3

    Alexander Meyer

    The Iconic

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 5

    Jeremy Nicholas


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 6

    Lara Thom

    Guzman y Gomez

    Global chief marketing officer

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  • 7

    Melina Cruickshank

    REA Group

    Chief audience and marketing officer and CEO, PropTrack

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  • 8

    Sweta Mehra


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 9

    David Nicholls

    PPG (Architectural Coatings)

    Commercial director

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  • 10

    Dan Ferguson

    Adore Beauty

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 11

    Lucinda Barlow


    Senior director, head of marketing APAC

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  • 12

    Yash Gandhi

    Baiada (Steggles and Lilydale)

    Head of marketing

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  • 13

    Natalie Ashes


    Chief digital officer

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  • 14

    Susan Coghill

    Tourism Australia

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 15

    Matt Fletcher

    Fitness First Australia

    Head of marketing

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  • 16

    Jessica Richmond


    GM, marketing and insights

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  • 17

    Ben Hill

    Mars Wrigley Australia

    Marketing director

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  • 18

    Amber Collins

    Australia Post

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 19

    Carolyn Bendall

    Swinburne University of Technology

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 20

    Michael Branagh

    Tourism and Events Queensland

    Group executive, marketing

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  • 21

    Chaminda Ranasinghe

    RMIT University

    Chief experience officer

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  • 22

    Paul Connell

    Naked Wines

    Marketing and sales director

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  • 23

    Louise Eyres


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 24

    Belinda Dimovski

    Australian Red Cross

    Director, engagement and support

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26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

  • Aisling Finch


    Senior director of marketing A/NZ

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  • Anand Surujpal

    Patties Foods Group

    General manager, marketing and innovation

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  • Andrew Balint


    VP marketing, A/NZ& APAC

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  • Daniel McDermott


    Marketing director

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  • Emily Dowling

    Mars Pet Nutrition Australia

    Marketing director

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  • Fabian Marrone

    Monash University

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Fiona Le Brocq


    Senior executive, brand, marketing and customer experience

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  • Jason Piggott

    Freedom Furniture

    GM marketing

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  • Julia Edwards-Smith

    McMillan Shakespeare Group

    Chief customer officer

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  • Kate Whitney

    Marley Spoon

    Chief marketing and growth officer

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  • Kristin Viccars

    Apex Tool Group

    Marketing director

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  • Louise Cummins

    H&R Block

    Marketing and digital innovations director

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  • Mark Renshaw


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Megan Keleher

    Great Southern Bank

    Chief customer officer

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  • Nicole McInnes

    WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

    Director of marketing, member engagement and commercial A/NZ

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  • Nicole Papoutsis


    Head of brand and marketing

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  • Nikki Clarkson

    Southern Cross Austereo

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Rosemary Martin


    Chief customer officer

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  • Sofia Lloyd-Jones

    University of NSW

    Director of future students (CMO)

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  • Tara Heath


    Chief customer officer

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  • Yves Calmette

    World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Australia)

    Chief marketing officer

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Ones to Watch (In alphabetical order)

  • Ana Sofia Ayala

    Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Adam Lee

    rt Health

    Chief marketing officer

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Jo Boundy Chief marketing officer Qantas
Mim Haysom Executive general manager, brand and marketing Suncorp Group
Alexander Meyer Chief marketing officer The Iconic
Mel Hopkins VP marketing Optus
Jeremy Nicholas Chief marketing officer Telstra
Lara Thom Global chief marketing officer Guzman y Gomez
Melina Cruickshank Chief audience and marketing officer and CEO, PropTrack REA Group
Sweta Mehra Chief marketing officer ANZ
David Nicholls Commercial director PPG (Architectural Coatings)
Dan Ferguson Chief marketing officer Adore Beauty
Lucinda Barlow Senior director, head of marketing APAC Uber
Yash Gandhi Head of marketing Baiada (Steggles and Lilydale)
Natalie Ashes Chief digital officer Grays
Susan Coghill Chief marketing officer Tourism Australia
Matt Fletcher Head of marketing Fitness First Australia
Jessica Richmond GM, marketing and insights Officeworks
Ben Hill Marketing director Mars Wrigley Australia
Amber Collins Chief marketing officer Australia Post
Carolyn Bendall Chief marketing officer Swinburne University of Technology
Michael Branagh Group executive, marketing Tourism and Events Queensland
Chaminda Ranasinghe Chief experience officer RMIT University
Paul Connell Marketing and sales director Naked Wines
Louise Eyres Chief marketing officer Vanguard
Belinda Dimovski Director, engagement and support Australian Red Cross
Simon Jarvis CMO Youfoodz

26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

Aisling FinchSenior director of marketing A/NZGoogle
Anand SurujpalGeneral manager, marketing and innovationPatties Foods Group
Andrew BalintVP marketing, A/NZ& APACAfterpay
Daniel McDermottMarketing directorMimecast
Emily DowlingMarketing directorMars Pet Nutrition Australia
Fabian MarroneChief marketing officerMonash University
Fiona Le BrocqSenior executive, brand, marketing and customer experienceMedibank
Jason PiggottGM marketingFreedom Furniture
Jenni DillCMOThe Arnott's Group
Julia Edwards-SmithChief customer officerMcMillan Shakespeare Group
Kate WhitneyChief marketing and growth officerMarley Spoon
Kristin ViccarsMarketing directorApex Tool Group
Louise CumminsMarketing and digital innovations directorH&R Block
Mark RenshawChief marketing officerSiteMinder
Megan KeleherChief customer officerGreat Southern Bank
Nicole McInnesDirector of marketing, member engagement and commercial A/NZWW (formerly Weight Watchers)
Nicole PapoutsisHead of brand and marketingGenea
Nikki ClarksonChief marketing officerSouthern Cross Austereo
Paul GlosterCMOLyre's Spirit Co
Rosemary MartinChief customer officerFlybuys
Simon ChengMarketing directorMenulog
Sofia Lloyd-JonesDirector of future students (CMO)University of NSW
Tara HeathChief customer officerHealthengine
Vladka KazdaMarketing director, AUXero
Yves CalmetteChief marketing officerWorld Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Australia)

Ones to watch (In alphabetical order)

Ana Sofia Ayala Chief marketing officer Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Adam Lee Chief marketing officer rt Health
Andrew May Chief growth officer v2 Foods

All in good time

Change, challenge, collaborate, communicate – four Cs that sum up the marketing leader’s path to business impact and traits our CMO50 exhibit in spades. Nadia Cameron reports

Marketing teams pride themselves on their ability to tap the consumer and cultural zeitgeist to bring their brands to life and generate growth. It’s this connection to market sentiment and trends that’s also given smart modern marketers who are both digitally and data savvy the tools to generate true business impact during the past 18 months of the crisis.

It’s the seventh year of the CMO50, our annual program recognising the standout work done by Australia’s most innovative and effective marketing leaders. As we’ve continued through the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the concept of effectiveness as well as the role of the CMO take on different shades of meaning and responsibility. This was laid bare across this year’s submissions.

In some quarters, the boon brands have experienced thanks to the tailwinds of the pandemic continued to propel growth, innovation and customer demand in ways previously unthought of, but welcomed. For others, headwinds presented by the pandemic were persistently challenging, requiring resiliency, adaptability and grit.

In either case, that precious ability to ‘pivot’ again proved paramount as brands navigated their way through. This was the essential capability for marketing leaders and their teams as they worked to adjust marketing programs of work to respond to accelerating digital and experience behaviours, changing customer values and needs. At an emotional and human level, community contribution also became a catch cry and consumers demanded to see broader purpose and vision in action. The best of the CMO50 this year challenged their organisations to rise up and deliver on such demands.

For CMO50 judges, balancing the broader impacts of the pandemic with the achievements of marketing leaders and their teams was a unique challenge this year. As long-serving CMO50 judge, David Morgan, remarked, some businesses did extremely well because of Covid and others did not.

“For example, domestic travel and meal delivery did well because people had been stuck at home, not going out, and want variety. It doesn’t mean the marketing teams didn’t do a good job, but it was harder to pin down the impact of the job they did do relative to the context they were in,” he commented.

For fellow judge and now CEO of a medical tech startup, Lisa Winn, unprecedented times meant putting a qualitative lens across the CMO’s impact and contribution. She noted an “interesting correlation” in a few instances of industries experiencing tailwinds in a good way but submissions not living up to the desired mark of well-thought through strategies and programs.

“The tailwinds were stopping some marketing leaders from looking at themselves and doing some of the more structural, strategic and transformative work other organisations were doing,” she suggested.

Yet non-executive director and former CMO, Georgie Williams, another long-serving CMO50 judge, saw standout work across those CMOs who had doubled down on the tailwinds. “You could see they’d used that to take out adjacencies and capitalised on new income streams. They were the guys who were really thinking about how to move,” she said.

Role and remit

Debate in the CMO50 judging room this year once again turned to the ongoing question of when a CMO stops being a CMO and how unique a contribution marketing can have across an organisation. Coming up with one defined position on the remit of a CMO was an impossible task given the breadth and scope of impact our CMO50 displayed this year.

Zuni MD and CMO50 judge, Mike Zeederberg, highlighted how accelerating trends of customer journey mapping, CRM, data and martech investment are changing the impact CMOs can have across their organisations.

“It shows marketers are getting much closer to the entire customer journey than they ever have before,” he said. “For example, they’re much more engaged with sales teams and in sales forecasting at the top end, and at the bottom end, better engaged in conversion of product sales, channel stats and experience. It’s an expansion of marketing roles and it’s allowing marketers to be much more engaged across the business.

“Some of the people that would have traditionally been talking about brand positioning and communications are detailing new product innovations, building out digital opportunities, cross-selling and upselling. It’s an interesting phase of CMO development.”

As Morgan pointed out, marketers in packaged goods and FMCG have classically been very close to the customer journey and sales operation. “It’s probably been much less so the case in digital, and that’s where we’re seeing this now emerge,” he said.

But the difference for Zeederberg is packaged goods have not been able to remain as close to the customer given the explosion of digital channels and digitally driven data insights and direct personalisation.

“What we are seeing now is data at scale, and more brand custodians moving from the colouring-in department to providing consumer insights that lead to innovation in the product space,” he continued. “CMOs are also demonstrating they’re understanding where blockages in the sales funnels are and helping remove them, as well as working across broader teams.

“Marketers are moving from the guys that market stuff to being far more core to business. We’re getting closer to the idea that it’s not unreasonable for CMOs to become CROs, CEOs and step up. As opposed to being the CFOs that have that step up.”

Proving impact

This was also evident in how the top 50 shared examples of commercial acumen. Many positioned outcomes against cost of acquisition, contribution to bottom and top-line growth and customer lifetime value, rather than pure campaign metrics such as reach.

“It’s interesting to see that shift from marketing as pure communications and brand awareness, to marketer as an actual business driver and innovator. It is something that’s definitely changed over the last 3-4 years,” Zeederberg added.

New judge and former CMO50 top 10 marketer, Susan Massasso, agreed it was “terrific” to see the marketer’s role being expanded.

“There was more than one entry where through the life of their tenure, the CMO had an expanded and more commercial role,” she said, agreeing has been facilitated and accelerated in part by data and the digital application of it.

“It’s great for our profession as a whole that we are being seen as far more integral to driving business growth. You could see that in a lot of the reference comments from CEOs in support of their CMOs’ submissions too,” she said.

Winn pointed out last year’s examples of organisational and broader business impact were more commonly around things like upping HR and the employee value proposition.

“What I see this year across a good dozen is leaders driving far more strategic change,” she said. “These CMOs are going right back to questioning the purpose of the organisation of products and services and challenging that. They’re taking their people on the journey and recommending products as a business and SKUs, pivoting everyone around a direction. What you also saw were CEOs really backing these individuals.

“It was quite fascinating to see and the biggest change I noted across submissions this year. There were examples of big impact around the future of the organisation and using Covid as the opportunity to stop, question and really align people around the way forward. I didn’t think we’d seen a lot of that over the last few years but there was a good number this year.”

There’s no doubt that over the course of the pandemic, CMOs have been presented with opportunities to do more questioning and championing for change. Across CMO’s 2020 Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO series, marketing leaders commonly shared a feeling of gaining permission to take bold steps and do things differently.

The question is whether this disruptive impact is sustainable once the crisis is over. An indicator is CMO’s own State of the CMO survey. During the heights of the first Covid wave, perceptions of marketing rose to unprecedented highs. This however, dipped in the 2021 survey conducted in May, when Australia wasn’t in lockdown.

During Covid, CEOs looked to strategic CMOs to lead the way through the crisis, not just using communications but by providing granular, contextually relevant customer insights and a constant gauge on market sentiment. They’ve reached out to CMOs for ideas on how to work through digital acceleration, how to continue to achieve growth and how to keep momentum going.

“The number of business pivots and products created in Covid because they had to that then turned into a new idea and were kept and pursued further were plentiful,” Zeederberg said. “This innovation is being caused by a crisis but leading to a different way of doing things.”

For returning judge and partner at 100 Percent Partners, Michele Phillips, the standard of CMO entries this year was exceptional and even higher than last year.

“CMOs are demonstrating the role of marketing is critical to their organisations attracting customers and building revenue. The CMOs that stand out are those that demonstrate financial impact and working cross functionally with colleagues in finance, sales, supply chain and IT, and where marketing is not a silo,” she said. “These CMOs will benefit from enhanced career progression.”

Our marketing champions

This year, CMO introduced a new accolade to our annual CMO50 program to recognise individuals who sit outside a marketing leadership role but have actively championed and continue to progress marketing leadership.

We’re asking all of our judges as well as CMO50 nominees this year to put forward individuals they considered worthy of such an accolade. These names were collated and presented to our CMO50 judging panel in 2021 for discussion, which informed CMO’s final choice.

Here, we present inaugural 2021 superstars.

David Morgan

Credentials: David is one of Australia’s most experienced and successful marketers with a career including leadership roles across Asia-Pacific for Procter & Gamble, Citibank and Nestle, global CMO roles for Samsung, and Standard Chartered Bank, and for HBOS he led the extraordinary rise of Bankwest from 15th to 5th largest retail bank in Australia.

David now runs MacMorgan, a business consultancy providing operational implementation programmes and capability support programmes for organisations transforming to customer experience led, and personalisation approaches with clients including: Suncorp, Optus, ANZ, Westpac, Seven West Media, Tabcorp, Macquarie University, Seven West Media, Tourism Australia, Heart Foundation, ADMA and many more.

David is Chairman of Shopper Media Group, SMI's highest growing offline media business for 2019 and 2020 and is global chair for CulturalPulse. Additionally, he serves as a non-executive director for PayFar, Slingshot, Clanz, ShopEx and ADMA. David is an active founding Ambassador for The Marketing Academy, also provides mentoring support for several c-suite leaders, and The Research Society Mentoring Programme.

Why he champions CMOs: “Whether it’s Covid, natural disasters, climate change, political divisiveness etc., the world my daughters are inheriting is facing some really difficult challenges,” David says. “Only by changing people’s behaviour, can we start to make a difference. Great marketers have all the technical and leadership skills to change people’s behaviour - it’s what they do. So helping to create and develop great marketers is my small contribution and wishing them the best of success for the change they can make and inspire through their businesses and brands."

What CMOs said about David’s contribution:

“David is a mentor, a leader and a champion of marketers. His knowledge, contribution and selfless devotion to the industry and marketers, big and small, is why David gets my vote for the Marketer’s Champion”.

“I’d like to recognise David for repeatedly showing up in support of the industry and the marketing craft. David both consistently demonstrate a passion for mentorship and supporting our wider CMO peer network in Australia.”

Sunita Gloster

Credentials: Sunita is an experienced commercial leader with almost 30 years’ experience in professional services in media, customer and technology. She brings a depth of experience, different perspectives and diversity of thought from all angles of the marketing supply chain. She has long championed marketing as a driver for growth.

Sunita is a regular public speaker, a panellist on ABCTV's Gruen and a contributing columnist in the AFR. She’s twice being voted in the Top 35 women in business under 35 in the UK in 2003 and 2005 and on returning to Australia has been ranked in the Top 30 Women in Media Power List for seven years. Sunita founded Gloster Advisory and is a senior advisor for Accenture and UN Women Australia. She advocates for the empowerment of women and girls and this year was awarded the Edna Ryan Award Celebrating Women Making a Feminist Difference in media and communications.

Why she champions CMOs: “While Covid has been an accelerant for many business transformations, it has also been a game-changing catalyst in the renewal of the marketing profession as a critical driver for growth,” Sunita says. “The pandemic epiphany for many businesses is how quickly consumers are now open to accept and adopt new habits and technologies that were once thought either too hard or decades away. This puts marketers front and centre in every decision that drives growth for the enterprise. As an industry, we have a collective responsibility to elevate understanding and respect for the profession and how it is evolving. Let's continue to bring it."

What CMOs said about Sunita’s contribution:

“Sunita is our CMO. She has spoken on the industry’s behalf for as long as I have known her. Regardless of where she works, she is overt about our profession and its importance to growth.”

“I can think of no more worthy candidate than Sunita. She very publicly advocates for us as a collective, to the broader business community in everything she does. Whether it has been through her leadership of AANA, her roles in media and industry as well as her contribution to the community through UN Women, Sunita has sought to raise the bar for all.”