21 of the Best CMOs to Follow on LinkedIn (If You Want to Grow Your Marketing Career)

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Marketers have a tough gig today (Is it OK if I say that? Since I’m a marketer too?) But look. It’s true. It’s harder than ever to do marketing today because, let’s face it: no one actually wants to be marketed to (me included).

But. I’ll let you in on a secret. There is one tried and true way to cut through the noise and earn the trust of skeptical buyers: being real. The best brands today are real, authentic, and human.

That got me thinking: who are the people leading the marketing teams that are doing this really well? What can I learn from them? Who are the CMOs I should be following?

And then a few weeks ago, I posted this on LinkedIn to ask for a few suggestions and came up with this awesome list of real and authentic CMOs – from marketing leaders at Lyft to SurveyMonkey.

Psst 🤫 Before you dive in, you can follow all these awesome CMOs on Twitter here. Just subscribe to the list 👈

Here we go.

These are 21 CMOs I recommend following if you want to see the future of marketing.

Joy-CMO

Follow her @joyehoward and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Joy Howard is a rockstar CMO. No, really – she played in a rock band and she’s also led marketing for some of the biggest brands in the world, like Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola, Nike, Patagonia, and Sonos. Now she heads up marketing at Lyft. As the CMO of a now publicly-traded company, Joy is working to increase Lyft’s market share, disrupt competitors, and transform the transportation market.

Our favorite post:

Joy is a champion for underrepresented communities. And that often crosses over into her work at Lyft. Joy frequently shares campaigns that Lyft is working on to drive change.

Leela-CMO

Follow her @leelasrin and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Before joining the team at SurveyMonkey, Leela held leadership roles at LinkedIn, OpenTable, and Lever, among others. She describes herself as a “shameless customer groupie.” So she often finds herself getting wrapped up in the customer. She wants to understand their journey, their pain points, and their challenges. Lots of CMOs talk about putting the customer first. Leela lives it every day.

Our favorite post:

Leela loves feedback, gathering data, and using that data to produce actionable insights. So it’s no surprise that she’s found a great home at SurveyMonkey. Here’s a look at how she’s using the product in real life to get better every day.

Bonus!

Leela joined us on our Marketing Swipe File podcast to talk about her career and share her seven tips for using customer feedback to build rapid fans and make more money. Listen to the full episode here.

Sarah-CMO

Follow her @saykay and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Sarah Kennedy Ellis is the CMO of Marketo and an all-around marketing powerhouse. She worked her way up at Sabre Corporation from a graduate intern to positions like the vice president of global marketing and managing director of digital experience. Now she’s running the show at Marketo, which was acquired by Adobe last year.

Our favorite post:

If you follow Sarah on LinkedIn or Twitter, you know she’s fiercely devoted to her team and gets nerdy about marketing. As luck would have it, she often shares her…spirited learnings with the rest of us.

Bonus!

If you’re wondering what kind of “trappy beats” Sarah plays in the office to get her team pumped up, you’ll have a chance to ask her. In person. Sarah will be joining us at HYPERGROWTH London on June 10th. Don’t miss it.

Ryan-Bonnici

Follow him @ryanbonnici and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

Ryan Bonnici’s background is impressive – he’s held senior-level marketing roles at industry leaders like Microsoft, Salesforce, and HubSpot, and now runs marketing at G2, the leading B2B software and services review platform. But what you may not know is that Ryan started out as an international flight attendant, using his time in the air to connect with executives in first class. And one of those connections is what led to his first job at Microsoft. Ryan’s curiosity, openness, and originality really makes him stand out. He’s also an outspoken advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

Our favorite post:

Ryan opens up about his own mental health experiences and what he calls his transformation over the last year.


Bonus!

Ryan became a CMO at the age of 29. We wanted to find out his secret, so we had him on a webinar to talk about how to unlock the next stage of growth in your marketing career. Watch here.

Deirdre-CMO

Follow her @deirdre_findlay and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

When Deidre Finlday joined Stitch Fix as CMO in 2018, she was tasked with building brand awareness and leveling-up the company’s already impressive personalization game. It’s a brand that sits uniquely at the intersection of fashion and technology, pairing data science and human intelligence. This combination has helped the company grow an active client base of 2.7 million. And to grow that even more, Deirdre is putting more money into advertising and special events – like a pop-up red carpet activation (complete with paparazzi) in New York City and Los Angeles that snagged 60 million impressions on Twitter alone. 

Our favorite post:

Sticking with the red carpet theme, Stitch Fix rolled out a campaign on Hollywood’s biggest night – the Oscars. Deirdre says the ad was intended to highlight how even everyday occasions can be special – and the magic you can find in each Stitch Fix box ✨


Vidya-CMO

Follow her @vidya_peters and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

When Vidya Peters joined MuleSoft in 2015, the company’s #1 priority was hiring great talent. But there was a problem. There was no marketing resource to support the MuleSoft talent team in its recruitment marketing efforts. So Vidya stepped in and put her marketing chops to work. The result? The growing MuleSoft team caught the attention of some big players in tech and was acquired by Salesforce in 2018.

Our favorite post:

Vidya may not post every day, or even every week. But when she does, the content is🔥 We can always count on her to share interesting, worthwhile articles, like this one from Outside about how our emotions spread further than we think.

Janine-CMO

Follow her @Janine_Pelosi and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Janine Pelosi bet big on video – and it’s paying off. She got her start at WebEx, which was later acquired by Cisco. She then made the jump over to video communications platform Zoom, where she was the first marketing hire. Fast forward four years, and now she heads up the marketing team at Zoom (which just went public) – so the fun for Janine is really about to begin. We can’t wait to see where she takes the company next.

Our favorite post:

Janine says it just isn’t in Zoom’s DNA to go full speed without testing and trialing. Because their customers are real people who rely on them every day. Janine doesn’t even use “B2B” or “B2C.” She just thinks of her customers as people. You can see that attitude reflected in Zoom’s marketing activities like this holiday ad.

Robert-CMO

Follow him @chatwani and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

In his role as CMO at Atlassian, Robert Chatwani draws directly on his 12 years of experience at eBay to bring a consumer feel to the software titan. It’s all about providing more value to the customer – going beyond technical users and into every department of the business. As he told Business Insider in an interview when he first joined Atlassian, “We’re not trying to sell them something, we’re trying to help them. It won’t feel like marketing; it’ll feel like a service.”

Our favorite post:

Robert believes that technology serves as a force for positive change in society, he makes sure that Atlassian is well-positioned to do just that.

Julie-CMO

Follow her on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Allbirds is a brand that came out of seemingly nowhere to become a cultural phenomenon. I mean, how many brands can say that they have Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor? But the sustainable shoe brand’s success didn’t happen by accident. Julie’s marketing strategy for Allbirds is centered on using language people actually use – and capturing the excitement people get when they’re talking about new things they’ve discovered. Julie’s strategy worked. Not only are Allbirds shoes as ever-present as Patagonia vests, the company is now valued at a whopping $1.4 billion.

Our favorite post:

Julie is another one that doesn’t post too often on social media, but when she does it’s very clear how passionate she is about her work at Allbirds.

Julie-Channing-LinkedIn

Udi-CMO

Follow him @ledergor and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

Udi Ledergor is a five-time VP of Marketing. And it makes sense. Because he’s one of those marketers whose excitement for what he does is infectious. He’s active on LinkedIn – sharing insights with his network, celebrating wins with his team, and the occasional 90s throwback photo.

Our favorite post:

I mean – how good is this marketing? Instantly hooked.


Heather-CMO

Follow her @hzynczak and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Heather Zynczak not only understands the enterprise, but she knows what it takes to scale in hypergrowth. When Heather joined Pluralsight as CMO in 2016, she had one mission – to expand the technology learning platform into the enterprise. Two years later, Pluralsight went public. In her previous role as CMO of Domo, she launched the brand while company billings grew from $0-100 million, achieving 100% year-over-year revenue growth. And before that, she held senior leadership positions at SAP and Oracle.

Our favorite post:

Heather is known for being a data-driven leader and champion for women in tech. And if you follow her on Twitter, you’ll notice that her posts often tie to the two together.

Bonus!

We had Heather on Marketing Swipe File, where she talked to us about building a high performance marketing machine at a public company, brand vs. demand, understanding your career path, the three paths to becoming a CMO, the power of having a user conference, and more.

Rene-CMO

Follow him @renebonvanie and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

As a mathematician turned marketer, René got his start at Oracle performing data and statistical analysis. But early on he got thrown a curveball – Oracle wanted him to shape the insights he was gleaning from data into a story. And so that’s how René fell into marketing – and how he found out he was a much better storyteller than he thought. Now he combines a love of data and a knack for storytelling at Palo Alto Networks. He joined the cybersecurity company 10 years ago to start the marketing team from scratch. Now the marketing team has well over 100 members and is well-known for being an extremely data-driven organization.

Our favorite post:

René’s tenure is pretty rare for a CMO these days – he’s definitely one to watch and learn from.


Meagan-CMO

Follow her @meisenberg and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Meagen Eisenberg is a seasoned pro at building high-performing marketing teams that scale. And she’s got eight successful exits (as an operator and advisor, including 2 IPOs and 6 mergers and acquisitions) since 2011 to prove it. Now as CMO of TripActions, she’s tackling her biggest total addressable market yet – the global travel and tourism industry, which TechCrunch estimates to be worth $7 trillion.

Our favorite post:

Before making the jump over to TripActions, Meagen reflected on her time at MongoDB and shared a look back at how she built a world-class marketing tech stack (and the tools she recommends), how she worked to strengthen sales and marketing alignment, and how she scaled the marketing team during hypergrowth.

Meagan-Eisenberg-LinkedIn

 

Blair-CMO

Follow her @bshane and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Blair Shane helps define how Sequoia – and the founders and companies they partner with – present themselves to the world. An important job, considering Sequoia has backed enduring companies like Google, Instagram, Square, Whatsapp, reddit, Zoom, and Drift. Before jumping into VC world, she served as Associate Dean and CMO of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, led the 2008 relaunch of the California Academy of Sciences, and held various marketing leadership positions at Charles Schwab.

Our favorite post:

Blair gets to work with (and learn from) some of today’s most innovative, envelope-pushing companies. And lucky for us, she doesn’t keep those learnings to herself. Sequoia’s marketing team publishes top-notch resources for startups and sends out a weekly newsletter featuring hard-won advice for founders, from founders.

Andrea-CMO

Follow her @AndreaMallard and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Andréa Mallard is an advocate for bringing creativity into your role – no matter where you work. She’s a design-oriented leader who got her start at global design firm IDEO, and most recently served as CMO of Athleta. In her current position as CMO at Pinterest, Andréa is on a mission to make the company one of the truly positive corners of the internet for its pinners and partners. And with Pinterest’s recent IPO, Andréa and team are well on their way to doing just that.

Our favorite post:

Andréa shared this message to celebrate Pinterest’s IPO – and more importantly, to thank its 250 million+ monthly active users for making it all possible.


Dan-CMO

Follow him @danrogers100 and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

Talk about a resume. Dan Rogers is the CMO at ServiceNow and before that was CMO at Symantec and VP of Marketing for EMEA at Salesforce. He also held marketing leadership roles at Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. But even with this wealth of experience, Dan still prioritizes learning and considers himself a student of great marketing.

Our favorite post:

Dan doesn’t post often. But when he does, he writes his posts with ServiceNow customers in mind – like this one where he thanks customers for helping ServiceNow take the #1 spot on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies.

Bonus!

We had Dan as a guest on Marketing Swipe File, where he talked about everything from bringing brand back to B2B to goal-setting and how he runs his team on a daily basis.

Carolyn-CMO

Follow her on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

When Carolyn Feinstein joined Dropbox as its CMO in 2016, the then-10-year-old company was ready for a change. So Carolyn spearheaded the biggest brand change in the company’s history, featuring bold repositioning to address the “grind” that the modern workplace has become. The goal? To rebrand Dropbox as more than a data storage solution and shift consumer perspective of the company. The messaging struck a chord – and Dropbox went public in 2018.

Our favorite post:

Carolyn shares her morning routine – what she does before bed to get the next day in order, how she gets three kids to school on time, her morning meditation, and the one thing that always makes her late.

Follow her @_kcwatkins and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

If you want to learn how to scale marketing during a period of massive hypergrowth, Kelly Watkins is the one you want to follow. Kelly joined Slack in February 2016 as a product manager. By December 2016, she was promoted to VP of Global Marketing. So what’s her secret? Kelly credits having a beginner’s mindset. To power the strategic growth engine at Slack, Kelly drew from best in class practices from the consumer world – storytelling about human beings – and applied them to a B2B growth model. And it worked – today Slack is valued at more than $7 billion. Kelly left Slack in early 2019 to start her own advisory firm. She now partners with growth-stage companies and advises them on how to market.

Our favorite post:

Kelly shared the news of her departure from Slack in this post. It’s an impressive look back at what she was able to accomplish in three short years 💪

Jonathan-CMO

Follow him @Mildenhall and on LinkedIn

Why we love him:

Lots of CMOs talk about industry transformation. Jonathan Mildenhall has lived it. For nearly four years, he led marketing at Airbnb – a giant player in the travel and tourism space. A super brand, if you will. Jonathan was behind some of Airbnb’s now-iconic marketing – including the ‘We Accept’ Super Bowl ad, the “Live There’ campaign, and the creation of its ‘Belong Anywhere’ logo. Jonathan left Airbnb in 2018 to found his own marketing consultancy and help the next wave of market disruptors make their mark.

Our favorite post:

Jonathan is an advocate for the LGBT community and diversity in tech. He often posts about the intersection of tech and humanity.

Jeanne-CMO

Follow her @jeannehopkins and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Jeanne Hopkins is known for building marketing machines that drive high-velocity demand creation programs. She’s all about building strong partnerships between sales and marketing (she calls it “smarketing”) to achieve maximum ROI – something she’s done successfully at HubSpot, Ipswitch, and SmartBear, to name a few. For her latest challenge, Jeanne is taking on the travel industry and working to provide a simpler way to manage business travel at Lola.com.

Our favorite post:

The sky seems to be the limit for Jeanne and the Lola.com team – they just announced a $37 million funding round and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Jeanne-Hopkins-LinkedIn

Bonus!

Before Jeanne joined Lola.com, she was CMO of Ipswitch, an IT management software company. Jeanne is featured in a case study that outlines how the Ipswitch team booked $3.6 million in pipeline in their first eight months using Drift.

Sara-CMO

Follow her @saravarnibright and on LinkedIn

Why we love her:

Sara Varni cut her teeth in marketing at Salesforce – she started out as a product marketing manager and in 10 years worked her way up to SVP of Marketing for the company’s flagship product, Sales Cloud. In 2018, she was tapped to help Twilio, a cloud communications platform company, enter its next stage of growth and take on the enterprise market – all while staying true to the company’s long-standing developer-first strategy. Now Sara is focused on further bridging the gap between the developers who are the gatekeepers of the customer experience and IT decision makers who want to expand capabilities and engage with customers in new ways.

Our favorite post:

Sara recently shared something that all modern marketers are tasked with – the explainer video. What is your product and what value does it provide to your customers? The objective sounds simple enough. But any marketer can tell you these videos don’t come together overnight. And the revisions that follow seem to go on forever. So hats off to Sara for an explainer video done well.

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