The 50 Most Influential CMOs in the World

Conor Cawley

A lot of responsibility for the success of a startup falls on the shoulders of the CEO. Between hiring a quality team, delegating important tasks, and generally running the day to day operations, these inspiring entrepreneurs can hit a wall if they don't have a little support. Fortunately, there are plenty of executives they can surround themselves with to take care of duties that would burden them beyond their capabilities. And when it comes to breeding success, the importance of hiring a qualified CMO is second to none.

Whether they're improving brand performance, increasing brand awareness, or influencing customers and peers alike, the chief marketing officer can drastically impact a company. With constantly shifting trends and social media making marketing more important than ever, a skilled person behind the CMO wheel can be the difference between success and failure.

“Twenty years ago, the CMO was essentially the broadcast arm of a company, in charge of distributing the company’s messages through advertising, PR, and so forth,” notes IBM CMO Michelle Peluso, one of this year’s Most Influential CMOs. “But that is changing dramatically now. Social has completely flattened the relationship and empowered customers in previously unimaginable ways.”

If you're struggling to figure out how to be an effective CMO, have no fear. Forbes, in partnership with LinkedIn and Sprinklr, has released a list of the most influential CMOs from companies across the world. From Keith Weed of Unilever, who took the top spot, to Karen Walker of Cisco, these business titans are changing the marketing game with their innovative ideas and groundbreaking techniques.

There were a few meaningful takeaways from the list as well, like the fact that 45 out of 50 CMOs were active on Twitter and 49 out of 50 were on LinkedIn. Similarly important is the fact that 40 percent of the CMOs on the list were part of the tech sector, the largest percentage next to the financial sector, which made up for only 18 percent.

Take a look at the rest of the list below and remember that marketing can make all the difference at your budding company:


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Conor is the Senior Writer for For the last five years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at

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