Meet the CMOs taking time out before securing their next role

A growing number of CMOs are leaving their roles without a new position to go to. What is their rationale?

Marketing Week 29th January 2020

Marketing is a demanding career and, if you’ve been in senior posts for many years, there can come a time when you need to take a step back.

For some people it is not simply enough to just change jobs. Instead they feel it necessary to remove themselves completely from the day-to-day rigour of working for a leading brand, even without a new job to go to. Such a move can appear to others as an incredibly brave, if risky, career decision.

But is it? We ask four senior marketers why they have left their posts in the past few months and what they plan to do next.

Matt Stockbridge’s LinkedIn profile simply says: “Taking a Break”. Like many senior marketers who have left their jobs without a new one to take up, Stockbridge is not overly worried. He has just left his role as analytics lead at Mondelēz International, where he spent almost nine years. He had become frustrated. Three times he applied for a new role internally and on each occasion the position was offered to an external candidate.

“I just thought it was time to move on, nothing against the company,” he says. “I feel I need to rest, reset and restart my career.”

Stockbridge comes from a research background, having previously held a senior business insight role at Cadbury and led consumer insights at Kantar Worldpanel, where he spent 17 years – if you include his time at TNS UK. He does not consider his latest career decision to be particularly bold.

“People look at what you do from their own perspective, but they do not walk in your shoes,” says Stockbridge. “I have been working since I was 14 and I have always spent a long time at the companies where I have worked. I’m now looking for more flexibility.”

He expects to be drinking a lot of coffee as he networks tirelessly over the coming weeks.

“I have given myself three months, but I’m very relaxed about things. I am just crystallising my thoughts. I might even do something completely different such as find a house to do up and turn it into an Airbnb property. Who knows?”

Stockbridge says the fact many senior marketers are choosing the same path is a reaction to the uncertainty in the economy over the past three years. This has led to stagnation in the marketing industry as brands wait for things to happen. While younger marketers are prepared to bide their time, older ones have got itchy feet.

“My advice to others would be to try other routes first, such as applying for moves internally, ensure you can afford to just leave and be confident enough to buy yourself enough time to really benefit from a break from the industry,”