25 Powerhouse CMOs Who Inspire Me To Be A Better Marketer


Forbes messed up. Like. Really messed up.

Back in September, they published a list called America’s Most Innovative Leaders, made up of 100 folks who they say are really killing it in the business game.

Except there was a small problem. Actually, it was a giant problem. Forbes’ list had only one woman on it.

Yep. One woman. On the entire. Damn. Thing.

But instead of getting mad (okay fine, I still got mad), I took a page out of Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s book and decided to make my own list of people who I consider to be innovative leaders.

Before we get to who’s on it, here’s a head’s up that my list is a little different. I wanted to focus specifically on B2B CMOs because, well, I’m a marketer at a B2B tech company, and I think CMOs should be celebrated as innovators too ?

The list you’re about to read is made up of 25 CMOs whose work inspires me on the daily. They’re straight-up powerhouses, challenging and shaping the future of marketing right before our eyes. I’m gushing, I know, but when you see who’s on the list, I think you will too.

So…are you ready to meet the powerhouses?


Follow her @julieliegl and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: I could just say that Julie Liegl is the CMO of Slack, and just leave it at that. That’s powerful on its own. But then I’d be ignoring the 13 years she spent at Salesforce, working on integrated campaigns, events, and yes, chairing Dreamforce, before becoming EVP of Global Marketing.

A powerful post: This one, from the day Slack went public. Enough said.


Follow her @daratreseder and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: I can’t go on my LinkedIn feed without seeing something to do with Dara Johnson Treseder. She’s everywhere – and for good reason. Dara is currently CMO at Carbon. Before that, she led marketing and growth efforts at GE, Apple, and Goldman Sachs. Dara is also an internationally recognized champion of public health, women’s issues, and diversity initiatives. She serves as an officer on the board of directors of the Public Health Institute and as an advisor to UN Women initiatives.

A powerful post: This was so hard to choose. Do yourself a favor and scroll through all of Dara’s LinkedIn posts. It’s like an endless stream of empowerment and inspiration. This one stood out to me – a post she wrote celebrating the people who are working hard to level the playing field for women.



Follow her @rmatlock on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: They say the average tenure for a CMO is around three years long. But Robin Matlock is anything but average. She’s been going strong at VMware – serving as CMO for more than six years and VP of Corporate Marketing for four years before that. She also held leadership positions at McAfee and Symantec and currently is on the board of directors for Iron Mountain.

A powerful post: Robin shares her own experience of being raised by a working mom.



Follow her @AnnaGriffinNow and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: She’s done it at Juniper Networks, CA Technologies, and now Smartsheet – Anna Griffin is a mastermind when it comes to positioning and brand strategies for emerging challenger brands and for established corporate evolutions alike. She says she’s always been drawn to innovation engines, visionary companies that see things in a different way, the ones who are challenging the status quo. She’s been at Smartsheet for about 6 months, and you’d better believe I’m keeping a close watch at what she’s got up her sleeve.

A powerful post: Some CMOs pitch their products at conferences. At a Smartsheet event earlier this year, Anna used her time in the spotlight to talk about equality with Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient. That’s different. That’s powerful.


Follow her @lcapozzi and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: This one’s a special one for me – I worked for Lynne for three years on Acquia’s marketing team. In fact, when I got the idea to do this post on CMO powerhouses, she was the first person to come to mind. She’s a caring, thoughtful leader who taught me what it means to be obsessed with the customer. I’m also personally convinced Lynne doesn’t sleep – she leads Acquia’s global marketing team (which recently was acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $1B) and runs a nonprofit through Boston Children’s Hospital.

A powerful post: Is the CMO role going away? Not at all. In fact, according to Lynne, it’s about to get a major upgrade.


Follow her @rashmivittal10 and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Rashmi Vittal has the kind of resume that would make even the most seasoned marketer jealous. I’m talking about marketing leadership positions at IBM, Oracle, Neustar, Gigya, SAP, culminating in her current role as CMO at Conversica. How could she not be on this list?

A powerful post: If I’m posting about CMOs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a shout-out to one of the most bread and butter CMO topics: sales and marketing alignment. Luckily, Rashmi has a great post about this.


Follow her @LataneConant and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Sales, accounting, and consulting are not your typical CMO background, but Latane Conant is not your typical CMO. Latane calls herself a “recovering software saleswoman,” who has spent her career – with long tenures at Ariba and Appirio –  figuring out the best ways to leverage data to ensure that marketing programs result in deals, not just leads. Refreshing, right? Today, Latane is CMO at 6sense where she helps fellow marketers solve the very real problem of scaling ABM.

A powerful post: Can you measure workplace happiness? Latane and the 6sense team are trying, and in this post, she shares why.


Follow her @JacWoods2020 and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Having a good channel and partner marketing strategy is crucial to fueling growth for any B2B tech company…but was does good look like? Look no further than Jacqueline Woods. For nearly a decade, she’s helped drive growth at IBM. In her current role as the CMO of IBM Global Business Partners, Jacqueline is responsible for leading marketing efforts for the Next Generation Partner Ecosystem and IBM’s channel business, with a focus on growing business partner momentum in IBM Cloud and AI technologies.

A powerful post: According to Jacqueline, if you keep trying, there’s no such thing as failure. Simple? I say, powerful.


Follow her @SallyJenkinsCMO and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Sally Jenkins is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Informatica. Sally has extensive global experience from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies (like Apple, Autodesk, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, and VMware, to name a few) and is recognized as a thought leader in the art and science of marketing. In fact, just last year, Silicon Valley Business Journal named Sally the 2018 CMO of the Year.

A powerful post: Another example of how to make conferences more meaningful experiences. Great to see Sally sharing Informatica’s commitment to supporting STEM students.


Follow her @mikayamamoto11 and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Consider yourself warned: Mika Yamamoto’s background is jaw-dropping. Here’s a skimmed version of her resume: Accenture. Gartner. Microsoft. CMO at SAP. President at Marketo. And now, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at F5Networks. Not to mention, she’s on three different boards. So if you’re like me, you want to know…how does she do it all? And more importantly, what fuels her? For Mika, the answer is simple. She says she’s insatiably driven to make a meaningful impact personally, professionally and within the community – to leave things better than they were before.

A powerful post: But before you think you have to go out and do everything, hear this: you don’t have to do it all. In her interview with Forbes, Mika says more isn’t always more.


Follow her @kpcalvert and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: You’ll hear a lot of CMOs talking about the customer journey, but Katherine Calvert lives and breathes the customer journey every day. She’s the CMO at Khoros, a platform that helps brands connect with customers throughout their journey. Plus, with her background in corporate communications (at various companies like Pfizer, Advent Software, and LinkedIn), I can tell that Katherine is someone who knows words matter. And that just warms my little content marketer heart.

A powerful post: Is there such a thing as being too customer-focused? Here’s what side of the debate Katherine is on.


Follow her @HArkinstall and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: From agency life to…CMO? That’s the path Heidi Arkinstall took, and can I say, how cool is she? She worked at Ogilvy, Wunderman, Publicis Groupe, and FCB Global, but after 20 years of working with clients on global consumer and business to business brands in categories including gaming, entertainment, technology, real estate, travel and financial services, she was ready for a new challenge. So Heidi joined Logitech in September 2015 to drive marketing, digital and eCommerce transformation across the company.

A powerful post: Heidi touches on another hot topic amongst marketers, and the business world in general: remote work.


Follow her on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: The best thing about coming up with this list is getting to see how many unique paths there are to the CMO role. Take Isabelle Papoulias, for example. She’s worked at companies big and small, media and creative agencies, quantitative research companies and now leads marketing at Mediafly, a B2B software firm. A different background means a different perspective, and that’s exactly what Isabelle brings to the table.

A powerful post: 2020 planning may already be underway…but we’ve still got to get through Q4. Here’s what Isabelle says are her top priorities for the rest of the year (and what keeps her up at night).


Follow her @JeanEnglishNC and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Jean English cut her teeth in marketing at IBM, starting out as a marketing manager and working her way up to VP of Global Marketing for IBM Cloud. She later joined NetApp to lead marketing and was there for three years before joining Palo Alto Networks as CMO in August 2019. Jean is someone who is highly analytical and brings a data-driven approach to create strategy and execution based on customer insights – aka the definition of a modern marketer.

A powerful post: Women may have broken the glass ceiling for the CMO role, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges left. There’s plenty. Jean, along with two other accomplished CMOs, gives her hard-won advice on navigating today’s workplace.


Follow her @kinjil and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Put simply, Kinjil Mathur is a force to be reckoned with. She’s got a background in building out digital marketing for retail giants (like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus) and led the charge behind Foursquare’s brand repositioning to fast-track growth in both the consumer and enterprise segments. Now as the Chief Marketing Officer of Squarespace, Kinjil leads the company’s world-class marketing and PR teams. She’s also on the advisory board at Ellevest, a start-up focused on helping women invest.

A powerful post: Technology, but make it fashion. For Kinjil, it comes naturally.


Follow her @HollyRollo and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: The CMO role as we know it is undergoing a transformation…but do you know any CMOs who have transformation built into their title? Holly Rollo may be one of the very few. She’s the CMO and SVP of Transformation at RSA Security. This means she leads all aspects of Global Marketing and the RSA Conference, which attracts a whopping 45K attendees, plus she’s directly responsible for transforming the brand and building a modern marketing engine.

A powerful post: For Holly, the idea of transformation isn’t just limited to marketing.


Follow her @DenisePersson and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: If there’s such a thing as a serial CMO, I think Denise Persson fits the bill. She was EVP of Marketing at Genesys, CMO at ON24, CMO at Apigee, and is now CMO at Snowflake. It’s clear she’s found a home in high tech, developing global brands and generating sales for high-growth and category-creating technology companies.

A powerful post: At Drift, we believe all marketing should be real, authentic, and human, This post from Denise checks off all three.


Follow her @Lylucas and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Lynn Lucas has a track record of shaping the market for both small and large companies (like Cisco and Veritas) through differentiated marketing strategies and positioning. Now Lynn is at Cohesity, where she joined as the company’s first-ever CMO. On her to-do list? She’s building brand awareness, serving as an advocate for the hyper-converged secondary storage, and going after an estimated $60 billion total addressable market.

A powerful post: One way to achieve brand awareness? Getting some prime real estate in New York City never hurt, that’s for sure.


Follow her @savvykristen and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Kristen Alexander caught my eye because she’s got such an interesting background –  she’s driven growth for enterprise SaaS companies in fintech, cybersecurity and marketing technology, as well as consumer companies in mobile and gaming products. Currently, Kristen is CMO of Certain, a leading event data platform that helps marketers drive measurable results from events.

A powerful post: I love Kristen’s take on digital and in-person communication strategies – you shouldn’t have to choose between them! She says both are actually stronger when used together.


Follow her @cyngumbert and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Some people do well at startups. Some people do well at Fortune 500 companies. Cynthia Gumbert does well at both, exceeding growth goals for marketing and sales at both fast-growing newcomers and big players alike. Earlier in her career, she built Dell’s global demand center, which involved a large-scale global process rollout for thousands of marketers. She went on to lead marketing at CA Technologies, Markforged, and Quick Base, before taking on the CMO role at SmartBear in May 2019.

A powerful post: Cynthia makes time for mentorship. Why? Because you’ve got to pay it forward, and not to mention, helping people reflect on their careers helps you reflect on your own.


Follow her @1MandyDhaliwal and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Mandy Dhaliwal has got serious software and cloud chops. Currently, she’s the CMO at Dell Boomi, where she’s focused on driving growth and expansion through high-impact programs. Before joining Boomi, Mandy was CMO of Fugue and played an integral role in launching the company and gaining market traction. And before that, she held senior marketing leadership positions at BlazeMeter (acquired by CA Technologies), SOASTA (acquired by Akamai Technologies), EMC (acquired by Dell Technologies) and Legato Systems (acquired by EMC). Like I said, serious chops.

A powerful post: Are Women In Tech breakfasts replacing post-conference happy hours? If so, I’m so in. Here’s a look at Mandy’s breakfast crew.


Follow her @mktgstella and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Another CMO, another stacked B2B resume. Here’s a look at Christelle Flahaux’s experience – she’s done marketing at big tech players, including Ariba, Taleo, Marketo, Jive, MapR, and Domo (yes, all of those!), before moving on to her current role as CMO at Host Analytics. A common trend I’ve noticed for the CMOs I’ve included on this list are leaders who hold themselves accountable for delivering real measurable results. The same goes for Christelle, who says she has an extreme focus on conversions to pipeline and revenue, not just inquiry creation.

A powerful post: You know when someone wins an award, and they go on and thank the people that helped get them there? That’s Christelle’s approach, as you can see in this customer-centric (and employee-centric) post after Host Analytics earned the leader spot in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the third year in a row.



Follow her @jenpwkboxer and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: Jennifer Dimas has made a name for herself in the B2B world, holding exec-level positions at Demandbase, Plex Systems, Egnyte, and now Gigster, where she’s CMO. In addition to her role at Gigster, Jennifer is also a co-founder and board member of Women In Revenue, a non-profit organization focused on current and future women leaders in technology sales and marketing roles with education, support, and networking opportunities.

A powerful post: Jennifer posted a photo from a Women In Revenue event and all I can say is #FOMO.



Follow her @alexandra_gobbi and on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: If there’s one thing marketers love to talk about, it’s disruption. And that happens to be one of the reasons that Alexandra Gobbi was excited to start her new gig as CMO at Code42 – so that she could help disrupt the way companies think about data security in the digital world. No small feat, but for Alexandra, who previously was ran marketing at Secureworks, EarthLink, and PRGX Global, Inc., it’s just another day at the office.

A powerful post: Questions about leadership and how to manage teams? There’s a lot of gold being shared on Alexandra’s feed.


Follow her on LinkedIn

Why she’s powerful: B2B software is not the easiest thing to talk about…let alone market. That’s why Claire Trimble’s on this list, she’s a veteran marketing exec whose core strength includes translating hardware and software technology benefits into compelling value propositions for customers, investors, and partners. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is huge. Oh and I forgot to mention, she’s done all of that successfully at Oracle, Cisco, Fortinet, Infosec Global, and her newest venture – as CMO at Lastline.

A powerful post: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good team celebration post.

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