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The entrepreneurial approach to driving business growth and strategic advantage that these marketing leaders take is beholden to neither the status quo nor disrupting it for disruption’s sake.

By Seth Matlins, Managing Director, Forbes CMO Network


Not every good—or even every great—CMO is also an entrepreneurial one.

A great CMO focuses on what matters most, on what creates and captures demand, and on how to best allocate limited resources to unlimited opportunities so the business grows. They think strategically and execute creatively.

These are the table stakes of great marketing and marketers. But the entrepreneurial CMO, while focused similarly, takes a different path to the common ends of profitable, sustainable growth. The entrepreneurial CMO is one whose approach to driving business growth is neither beholden to the status quo nor disrupting it for disruption’s sake, and they are transforming their brands, businesses, and sometimes culture itself, as a result.

They understand what endures and, innately, what needs to change, whether within their organizations and/or in how they go to market. Strategic risk-takers, actively learning from what works and, inevitably, what doesn’t, they are fueled by curiosity, creativity, and an ability to experiment and connect dots in real time, even if the dots, like goalposts, keep moving.

And the goalposts—or at least the circumstances confronting marketing leaders—keep moving. While chief marketers across industries and the globe face many common challenges, it’s how the 50 recognized here confront, adapt to, and overcome them that finds them on this year’s list.

All CMOs today must influence that which is in their control while contending with and adapting to circumstances far beyond it. They must decide on should-they-or-shouldn’t-they questions about countless opportunities and obstacles, often in real time. They must often fight for what’s right for brand and business with CEOs and CFOs—who, while experts in the black and white of numbers, are less so in the 50 shades of grey coloring human attitudes and behaviors—all while trying to reach and influence fragmented audiences besieged by distraction and their own concerns. As John Lennon sang, “These are strange days indeed.”

Indeed, strange is the new status quo. This arguably means it no longer merits conversation, even as it insists on consideration, making a status-quo approach to driving competitive advantage and growth an increasingly challenged one. And it is our belief that an entrepreneurial ethos and approach to the art, science, and practice of marketing is increasingly important to good—even great—CMOs.

In times of extraordinary change and challenge, thinking and acting entrepreneurially are not limited to early-stage ventures. They cannot be. As you read through this year’s list (presented alphabetically), you’ll find marketing leaders who are stewarding brands and companies across categories and the globe, from some of the world’s oldest and largest companies to some of its newer and smaller ones.

But regardless of what and where they market, it is how they market and how they compete that finds them recognized on this year’s list.

Our 3rd annual Forbes Entrepreneurial CMO 50 list recognizes a cohort of marketing leaders, selected from among hundreds of nominees and based on qualitative consideration by their peers, marketing industry and agency leaders, executive recruiters, CMO list alumni, and Forbes. There is something to consider and learn from each of them.

We invite you to get to know them below.

Additional reporting by Liz Kneebone

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Ana Andjelic

Position: Global Chief Brand and Marketing Officer

Company: ESPRIT

Because by “doing things differently, despite established wisdom, traditional practices, or consensus,” Andjelic is rebuilding and revitalizing the ESPRIT brand and business.

The long-time fashion and luxury category marketer and one-time CBO at both Banana Republic and Rebecca Minkoff, Andjelic approaches ESPRIT’s rebrand and revitalization with a sociologist’s training and POV. In just the past year, she has built the fashion brand’s marketing, creative and design organization from one person to over 50, globally. She and her expanded team are working to operationalize the brand’s new vision and aesthetic, under the entrepreneurial moniker “Rules Don’t Apply,” pushing to disrupt both brand perceptions and culture, while reintroducing ESPRIT in North America, APAC, and Europe.

For Andjelic, a hallmark of the entrepreneurial marketer is, as she told Forbes, “being a bit crazy.” At a time when many marketers are chasing the newest and the next change, it may be seen as crazy that Andjelic and her team remain equally focused on what isn’t changing and what endures in order to build, grow, and activate consumer fandom “from the bottom-up.”

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Sophie Bambuck

Position: CMO

Company: The North Face

Because for Bambuck, driving growth for this globally iconic outdoor brand often, as she told Forbes, “requires a considerable degree of adaptability and a strong dose of resilience; taking calculated risks and sometimes championing unorthodox solutions.”

With accountability for all consumer interactions with the brand across the Americas, APAC and EMEA, Bambuck’s entrepreneurial approach isn’t limited to the consumer-facing but includes “continuously rethinking our marketing mix and our approach to how we enable consumers to see, touch, and feel the brand.”

Bambuck and her team are willing to take big, disruptive, strategic bets, standing up for what they consider right even when it’s a risk. Evidence can be seen in their response to one customer who, on a trip to New Zealand, found the brand’s waterproof jacket to be somewhat less than, and posted her disappointment on TikTok, where her complaint went viral. But, in call-and-response marketing, Bambuck and her team quickly determined the best way to address this viral complaint was to meet this TikToker where she was, literally. Within days, they’d arranged to helicopter the customer a new jacket on a New Zealand mountaintop. The customer was satisfied, and the brand’s unorthodox response went viral.

Bambuck shared that The North Face, owned by parent VF Corp, saw revenues increase 10.8% year-over-year (YoY.)

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Eugenia Blackstone

Position: CMO

Company: Iris Powered by Generali

Because as Blackstone drives a business transformation and markets this B2B2C identity protection platform, she knows full-well that, as she told Forbes, “being different is not safe. It requires change, and change usually causes fear, (and) fear causes people to focus on a multitude of obstacles or reasons why we shouldn’t change.”

Four years into her role as CMO, Blackstone is removing these obstacles, guiding, and building a team adept at navigating changes across the company’s brand, organization, and product. She and her team are leading a brand positioning shift from a service business to a true SaaS company, in order to differentiate from their competitive sets in the 112 countries in which the company sells.

Focusing on the company’s mission to “bring people from distress to relief” and on shortening its B2B sales cycle, Blackstone and her team are marketing beyond traditional category models. By thinking and marketing this way, she’s created a new value proposition, increasing both relevancy and access to the tools Iris provides for both the enterprises they serve and the hundreds of millions of consumers served in turn.

As Blackstone told Forbes, she is always “open to being wrong, open to change, and open to not changing even when it seems like everyone else is.”

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Linda Boff

Position: CMO

Company: GE

Because as GE prepares to separate into three individual and public companies, each of which will go to market with the GE brand name, Boff and her team are creating entirely new organizational structures to support that which is, as she told Forbes, “without precedent in the industry.”

Because ten years into her tenure as CMO, Boff is helping lead the transformation of one of history’s most iconic companies and corporate brands. She’s doing this inside GE by “changing the game” and creating “a lean mindset of candor, transparency, and focus.” And Boff and her team are doing this outside GE’s corporate corridors by doing what’s never been done before, including a historic (for both parties) partnership with The New York Times, where 27 GE ads took-over the entire paper to support the spin-off of GE HealthCare.

Boff told Forbes that she thinks “our (marketing) resembles the famous Apollo 13 scene when all the parts are thrown on the table and the scientists need to figure out a creative way to reassemble them. That’s us...constantly challenging ourselves to take a fresh look at how to bring the company to life” when, as a largely industrial business, it can be years between product launches.

Over the past 5 years, GE has transformed itself operationally, financially, and culturally, in what has been called “a legendary turnaround.” As of April 10th, the company’s stock was up over 107% YoY.

Boff, a member of the Forbes CMO Hall of Fame, recently announced her plans to leave GE at the end of April, when the company is through its separation into three independent public companies.

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Chris Brandt

Position: Chief Brand Officer

Company: Chipotle

Because Brandt recognizes that, inevitably, marketing won’t always work as planned but equally that, as he told Forbes, it “isn’t failure if we learn something.”

With responsibility for overseeing global new restaurant development, brand creative, advertising, TV/digital media, social media, brand marketing, and culinary, Brandt markets knowing that in a mature and “saturated” category, continued growth requires brand visibility and top-of-mind awareness. This, in turn, requires speed and innovation. To these ends, Brandt and his team are continuously activating “small experiments” to find which ideas and initiatives resonate, which don’t, and where and how to invest incrementally to drive outsized returns.

Certain that “brave experimentation can take a brand further than data-driven insights” alone, he and his team are experts in using cultural moments to unlock experiences driving guests through the company’s physical and digital doors. Recent experiments include creating a custom car napkin holder that sold out in just one hour (all based on the creative ways consumers were already storing Chipotle napkins in their cars), to viral TikTok Chipotle “hacks” making their way onto Chipotle’s menu in only three months through marketing-led cross-team collaboration (a record for the company).

Brandt’s entrepreneurial approach to marketing seems to be working. As of April 10th, Chipotle’s stock was up over 76% YoY.

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Fiona Carter

Position: CMO

Company: Goldman Sachs

Because being an entrepreneurial marketer sometimes requires disrupting internal operations and behaviors. Because as the first CMO of one of the world’s largest financial institutions, Carter is building what’s essentially a start-up; a modern marketing function within a 155-year-old enterprise that has historically relied on a relationship-based, in-person marketing and sales playbook.

For Carter and her team, building Goldman’s marketing organization and capability into what she told Forbes, is a “force multiplier for business growth,” requires the former CBO at AT&T and long-time agency and holding company executive to think entrepreneurially and act intrapreneurially. It requires building “bridges with the firm’s current operating systems and an understanding and tolerance for change from an often-(marketing) skeptical audience.”

With an operator’s mindset and a global remit spanning the breadth of Goldman’s brands and businesses, Carter leans into marketing’s unique ability to drive collaboration across divisions, consistently demonstrating how digital marketing makes her internal constituencies more effective, efficient, and drives incremental commercial upside.

With an entrepreneurial conviction that “the race goes to those who persevere,” three and a half years into her role, Carter is seeing her business partners across the enterprise “beginning to acknowledge marketing can be a revenue-generator, scaling their business models, and helping find new audiences and sources of business.”

As of April 10th, Goldman’s stock was up almost 20% YoY.

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Claudine Cheever

Position: VP Global Brand and Marketing

Company: Amazon

Because in leading 11 functional teams across the breadth of Amazon’s consumer-facing businesses, Cheever is “experimenting at the edges...and inventing relentlessly.”

Focused on bringing the Amazon brand to life for consumers globally, Cheever tells Forbes she looks to zig where others zag. While the company’s mission to make lives “easier and better” is consistent, the breadth of Amazon’s business(es) provides no such consistent template for Cheever’s marketing or her marketing organization. “The cross-channel marketing my team leads must appeal to very different cohorts of people across very different categories, yet still carry a distinct central brand point of view and cultural, often temporal, relevance.”

Cheever’s remit includes oversight of an annual budget measured in billions of dollars, media planning, buying, insights, measurement, an in-house creative team, external agency relationships, brand identity and design, and a global hub designed to scale marketing models and excellence.

From developing and rolling-out a unified, cross-category Prime-brand platform, to “inventing a new media channel” by using Amazon’s physical brand assets, specifically boxes and vans, Cheever has “harnessed the power of these delivery engines as a media channel, (becoming) one of the world’s hardest working and largest OOH networks.”

As of April 10th, Amazon’s stock was up over 91% YOY.

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Sofia Colucci

Position: CMO

Company: Molson Coors Beverage Company, North America

Because Colucci’s marketing demonstrates a consistent entrepreneurial willingness to “pioneer new approaches balancing the art and science of creative effectiveness, while continuously experimenting with new ways to drive our brands in culture.”

Because to these ends, she and her team have developed both their own creative effectiveness model and, to ensure continual optimization of creative output and their media mix, what she told Forbes is “a proprietary, multi-touch attribution model where we can connect the impact of our marketing creative and media to actual sales impact. “

Colucci considers constraints to creativity catalysts not obstacles, and markets with what she told Forbes is a “fearless growth mindset.” Committed to leveraging her portfolio’s distinct brand assets in breakthrough ways, Colucci’s team looks to “hack” culture creatively to create deeper brand love. Examples include running not just one but thousands of Super Bowl ads as she and her marketing team did for Miller Lite, and turning the 150-year-old Banquet brand into a Gen-Z favorite.

In the past year, under Colucci’s entrepreneurial marketing leadership, The Effies named the company the most effective creative marketer in North America. Colucci also reports increases in net revenue, share and volume across the company’s North American brand portfolio.

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Frank Cooper III

Position: CMO

Company: Visa, Inc.

Because even in what is his fourth CMO role, Cooper brings a “beginner’s mind” to everything he and his marketing team at Visa do in order to both better people’s lives and the effectiveness of Visa’s marketing.

CMO of this financial services behemoth since May of 2022, Cooper is intent, as he told Forbes, on “improving people’s lives around the complexities and opportunities of our relationship with money.” For Visa’s marketing, this is more than a mission, it’s the strategic fulcrum around which he’s leading a marketing organization overseeing the company’s consumer, B2B, product marketing, and marketing services in 200 territories, globally.

Evidence of Cooper’s entrepreneurial approach to Visa’s marketing can be found in how he and his marketing team have re-imagined how the company uses media, one of their largest line-item marketing investments. “Rather than viewing media solely as a platform to broadcast messages,” Cooper told Forbes, “I've guided our teams to utilize media as a tool to assist people in progressing in their lives.”

Cooper is equally focused on evolving Visa’s brand positioning, by evolving its brand behaviors. While Visa's deep-rooted sponsorship ties, like its long-standing Olympics partnership, continue, Cooper is reshaping how the brand activates and leverages these high-profile platforms, so that Visa's sponsorship strategy becomes as much about driving its mission as conventional marketing objectives.

As of April 10th, Visa’s stock is up over 21% YoY.

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Patricia Corsi

Position: Global Chief Marketing, Digital and Tech Officer

Company: Bayer (Consumer)

Because Corsi and her team are working to disrupt both culture and their staid category by marketing with “an owner’s mentality,” a behavior and approach she tells Forbes she learned from generations of entrepreneurs in her Brazilian family.

To ensure a more entrepreneurial approach to driving growth across her marketing organization, Corsi is leading an internal cultural change process designed to “foster a willingness to try the new...(uncovering) different angles and opinions on similar problems, generating a higher optionality of solutions.” And in a global category not known for its creative approach to marketing generally, nor its use of humor to educate specifically, Corsi’s marketing is changing this across a global remit, including innovation, strategy, and digital transformation in 7 consumer healthcare categories.

Among other things, this has led to creating industry-redefining campaigns like The Vagina Academy, an initiative to uncensor the word “vagina” across social media, doing this both for their women’s intimate health brand Canesten and consumers. She’s built a partnership with the Unstereotype Alliance and is leading work not only Bayer’s benefit but so “it can be useful for other companies” and consumers.

Corsi’s focus on creativity in a category not known for it, is working. In the past year, Bayer Consumer Health has won four Cannes Lions, one Clio, and multiple awards for creative effectiveness.

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Jill Cress

Position: Chief Marketing and Experience Officer

Company: H&R Block

Because Cress is “pushing the boundaries of our marketing output and customer experience” by reinventing what has been done with an unwavering entrepreneurial eye on what could be possible.

Cress is taking a contrarian and entrepreneurial approach to tackling the nearly 70-year-old brand’s fundamental marketing challenge—increasing brand relevancy. As she told Forbes, “we have +90% awareness and trust. At the same time, we hear from prospects that Block is better for somebody else.” By leaning into what she calls a “promotional mindset” and not the tax software category’s traditional “prevention“ one, and by emphasizing that “you don’t have to be wealthy to be a maximizer,” she’s changing and expanding perceptions of who should use H&R Block to do their taxes.

For many Americans, taxes are their single largest financial transaction of the year, and Cress’s status-quo-rejecting approach to overcoming the challenges of brand relevancy and an understanding of the jobs Block can do for its users seems to be working.

By taking the approach above and by focusing on driving expanded awareness of Block’s DIY tax services and products, Cress’ and her team report having driven a 35-basis point increase in the company’s market share. As she told Forbes, in the past year, “five million people made the switch to us.”

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Michelle Crossan-Matos

Position: CMO

Company: Ulta Beauty

Because as CMO of America’s largest beauty retailer, Crossan-Matos is building on the company’s 30-year “legacy of disruption” by being agile and adaptable to changes across the customer, category, and competitive landscapes.

With an acute understanding of what she told Forbes is “the profound impact beauty holds in people's lives,” Crossan-Matos and her team are reimagining not just how their brand interacts with and engages its guests but how the 600+ brands on their shelves do too. Thinking disruptively and bucking category trends is central to how Crossan-Matos and her team identify new ways to show up for beauty enthusiasts.

While other retailers cut costs, removing perks and/or making it harder for customers to earn rewards, Ulta is investing incrementally to create the “rewardiest program in beauty.” And under Crossan-Matos’s leadership, they’re using Ulta’s retail media network to transform how the brands on their shelves connect with audience(s). By listening to Ulta’s associates, “who frequently observed guests grappling with negative self-talk,” Crossan-Matos led the brand to commission research exploring the “impact of the inner critic on joy and well-being”, which in turn became Ulta’s The Joy Project, an effort to create more of it in people’s lives.

She tells Forbes that these two efforts have helped “revolutionize Ulta Beauty's trajectory by deeply engaging our guests and driving business growth.” For the fiscal year ending February 24, Ulta reported revenues were up nearly 10%.

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Sanaz Dizaj Parham

Position: Brand Director & Founding Employee

Company: Axel Arigato

Because, as the third employee of this Swedish fashion brand, Dizaj has reimagined marketing Axel Arigato, as she told Forbes, by “prioritizing community over sales, obsessing over the intersection of community, culture, and shaping a brand and strategy that has played a defining role in our growth.”

Despite being only 20 when she started at what was then a DTC start-up, Dizaj knew implicitly that building a brand and business in a crowded market required reimagining category marketing. “From the beginning, I envisioned Axel Arigato's platforms as open doors, inviting collaborations, reflecting the values of the next generation, and a commitment to disruptive marketing.”

Evidence of this approach is found in an on-going series of on-the-street interviews, “where we engage our audience with questions from workplace dynamics to matters of the heart, to the latest on Rosalía,” that not only serve as community-driven content but, more relevantly, has, in her words, “transformed our brand into a media personality and recurring TV channel.”

Dizaj has oversight of the luxe brand’s global brand marketing and strategy, which has begun expanding from its DTC roots to a wholesale model and is now expanding geographically into North America.

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Esi Eggleston Bracey

Position: Chief Growth and Marketing Officer

Company: Unilever

Because Eggleston Bracey sees breaking barriers, disrupting “group think,” and avoiding blind spots as essential parts of her role at this FMCG multinational giant.

Taking what she told Forbes is “an entrepreneurial approach to discovering and anticipating human needs that may not be obvious...breaking previous barriers to addressing them.” Eggleston Bracey, who also sits on Unilever’s Executive Board, is intent on hastening the path to growth for the company’s brands by continuing to transform their marketing model.

To these ends and in order to accelerate growth across the breadth of Unilever’s portfolio of brands, Eggleston Bracey and her team developed a proprietary system, the “5S Model”, allowing them to reverse engineer the path from the moment of sale back to the top of the funnel. And with a renewed focus on accelerating their digital commerce businesses, she and her marketing organization are also “pioneering media innovations,” allowing for an expanded presence on the digital shelf, from sale to signals, search, streaming, to social.

The Unilever portfolio is both broad and deep (the company recently announced plans to spin-off its ice cream business), but Eggleston Bracey tells Forbes her focus is largely on driving the company’s top 30 brands; 16 of whom (including Dove, Hellman's, and Magnum) are in what the company refers to as the 1 billion Euro Club. The other 14, (including Cif, Nutrafol and Liquid IV) are those whose growth potential makes them among the most likely to become part of the Club.

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Julia Goldin

Position: Chief Product and Marketing Officer

Company: The Lego Group

Because Goldin’s approach to marketing this 92-year-old Danish company’s namesake product is as rooted in creative experimentation as are the Lego brand and bricks themselves. Because she and her team have leveraged Lego’s brand equity and power to expand both, turning the enterprise from a toy-company into a multi-faceted global entertainment one.

With integrated oversight of marketing, product development, and Lego’s in-house creative studio, Goldin has re-organized the company’s product development process, focusing on audience passions and not, as has long been the category status-quo, gender.

Across film, television, digital shorts and gaming, Goldin and her teams have built a huge portfolio of diverse, often surprising, partnerships. These include those with Disney, Technic McClaren (F1), Epic Games, and Louis Vuitton. All of these are creating new play and collectible experiences across the physical, digital and “phy-gital” worlds, and redefining the nature of play, creative expression, and experimentation, globally.

For Goldin, “Play Is Your Superpower” isn’t simply a campaign for engaging the privately-held company’s expanding user and fan-base, it’s an organizing principle for how she continues disrupting the toy-marketing playbook and how Lego helps “fill the world with fun.”

Goldin was inducted into the Forbes CMO Hall of Fame in 2022.

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Josh Goldstine

Position: President, Worldwide Marketing

Company: Warner Bros. Picture Group

Because there was little about Goldstine’s marketing for Barbie that didn’t turn the traditional movie-marketing playbook on its head—or simply throw it out the window. And because he and his Studio team pulled off what has been called the “marketing story of the year.”

Barbie’s marketing plan both leaned into and challenged limiting preconceptions about what the film was and who it was for. Goldstine and his team disrupted convention by speaking directly not only to the brand’s fans but, equally, its detractors. “Part of our job was to defy expectations and use cultural curiosity about what this could be,” Goldstine told The Guardian. “People had preconceptions. We thought that, by shaking them, we could create a tremendous amount of curiosity.”

While marketing tie-ins and promotional partnerships are status-quo for tentpole films, Goldstine and his team led Warner Bros. to over 100 partnerships, an unheard-of number to conceive of, negotiate, and manage. Their sheer scale and diversity helped turn a movie campaign into a global movement, causing a shortage of pink paint world-wide along the way.

With marketing oversight for the entirety of the Studio’s slate, Goldstine and his team did this for Barbie while also marketing, among others, Wonka, Creed III, and The Color Purple.

Barbie crossed the $1B global benchmark in 17 days and was the highest-grossing film of 2023.


Diana Haussling

Position: VP, General Manager, North America Consumer Experience & Growth

Company: Colgate-Palmolive

Because Haussling knows that as she and her team steward a portfolio of brands within this 218-year-old company, their challenge is, as she told Forbes, “not just to shatter the status quo or purely change the trajectory of our brands but to build upon the foundations.”

Since coming to Colgate-Palmolive from Campbell’s, Haussling has fundamentally redefined marketing within the organization. Haussling has brought revenue, data, and analytics under the same umbrella as her media, social, digital commerce, and creative functions. She tells Forbes that this new structure and approach allows her team to more effectively and efficiently identify and market on an integrated basis across every touchpoint, from design to pricing to use.

Haussling knows marketing must “deliver the ‘tried and true plus the new” and be “positioned to seize opportunity...with the flexibility to move at the speed of culture.” As an example, when the red carpet at this past year’s Met Gala was “giving Colgate Triple Action Deep Clean Toothpaste vibes” as one social media poster remarked, the company’s namesake brand seized the moment—in a moment—on TikTok to become part of the cultural conversation.

Intent on ensuring the CPG giant is growing for another 218+ years, Haussling and her team are “poised for complexity and the speed of change.” As of April 10th, the company’s stock was up over 13% YoY.

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Brad Hiranaga

Position: Chief Brand Officer

Company: Cotopaxi

Because Hiranaga is driving Cotopaxi’s growth from “start-up to scale-up” while maintaining a focus not just on this adventure apparel maker’s business but also on inspiring other businesses to “embrace capitalism for good.”

The one-time General Mills CMO tells Forbes he is on a journey from the intrapreneurial to the truly entrepreneurial, at this still small but rapidly growing brand. Hiranaga sees his remit as both “maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit the brand was built on'' and “building a company, an organizational infrastructure, team, capabilities, and culture that believes business can do good.”

To these ends, Hiranaga redesigned Cotopaxi’s marketing capability and culture, and has transformed its product launch model from seasonal drops to full-scale campaigns in new product and usage categories. He and his team have led Cotopaxi’s expansion into new media channels, video formats, and dozens of partnerships with “same-DNA” brands, allowing Cotopaxi’s smaller budgets expanded reach and impact.

Hiranaga says he wants “Cotopaxi to be an example for other companies...for others to learn from our successes and our mistakes.” And this mission-driven, entrepreneurial approach seems to be working. Cotopaxi’s marketing has received 3 major brand impact awards, and “in an outdoor industry that encountered headwinds,” Hiranaga reports the company grew 35% YoY.

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Meredith Kelly

Position: Global Head of Marketing

Company: Skoda

Because amidst seismic shifts reshaping the automotive industry, Kelly is leading a transformation of the Skoda brand, part of the Volkswagen Group, to better compete. As she told Forbes, “I’m never satisfied with the status-quo. After a career building brands in emerging markets, she knows her work requires “a mindset of constant reinvention and problem-solving.”

Kelly and her team have been disrupting what Skoda, one of the oldest automotive marques in the world, represents at a time and in a category where massive changes in technology, consumer wants, needs, and expectations threaten legacy manufacturers unable to reinvent themselves. Amidst this global category disruption, Kelly’s positioning transformation finds Skoda’s brand moving from a price-driven positioning to one instead rooted in values and a spirit of adventure.

She and her marketing team are driving this reinvention by, among other things, bringing “first-to-market innovations” across the over 100 markets where the brand sells. These marketing innovations include an AI-powered app in Norway that “allows you to plan spontaneous trips, and in Poland, a VR experience was created allowing users to travel up the highest mountains, which was specifically developed for those who might have disabilities and while not able to take the physical journey themselves, still have the desire to explore.”

For the fiscal year ending 2023, Skoda’s global sales were up over 18 percent.

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Alia Kemet

Position: CMO

Company: Shipt

Because in order to ensure this same-day delivery brand and business punches above their budget, Kemet told Forbes she is “incubating and spreading an entrepreneurial mindset, until it becomes contagious and endemic to the team’s culture. I build fearless teams...making the seemingly impossible, well, possible.”

Operating as an independent subsidiary of Target, which acquired Shipt in 2017, Kemet’s marketing has fully embraced the company’s challenger brand status, as it competes with bigger and better-known brands. Responsible for Shipt’s brand and creative, production, advertising, consumer and experience strategy, membership, loyalty and promotions teams, Kemet’s marketing approach is not just entrepreneurial but also human and values-centric. She sees this as not only “increasing our authority as a challenger brand and service, but also helping to progress access and inclusivity in both the tech and marketing spaces.”

With a continuing focus on elevating Shipt’s brand and ensuring it is both more affordable and accessible to more users, Kemet’s approach to being “singularly courageous and collectively unstoppable,” along with creative partnerships with, among others, Issa Rae, seem to be working. She tells Forbes that the brand’s social engagement doubled in six months, and that they’ve seen commensurate lifts in aided and unaided awareness, consideration, and return on ad spend.

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Jonathan Kiman

Position: CMO

Company: Gucci

Because Kiman sees the arrival of a new creative director and a new CEO at the globally iconic luxury brand not as a constraint but as “the perfect moment for experimentation within an industry that can be resistant to change.”

Embracing this moment to launch a new creative and marketing lexicon for Gucci, Kiman told Forbes that he markets believing “in a moment of change, you could stay beholden to the past. However, if your entrepreneurial ethos prevails, the excitement of the unknown future can be a pivotal motivational driver.”

With a remit including Integrated and Product Marketing, Partner Marketing, and Media across all geographies, channels, and product categories for Gucci, in this moment of organizational change, Kiman and his team know marketing can help redefine Gucci’s brand-narratives faster than new store designs or products can come to market. “Rather than take things slow, we double-downed on content development, the fastest vehicle by which we could signal change—testing new communication channels outside of the norms of the luxury industry.” These included introducing a new brand color-code with “an illusion gauze” next to London’s Tower Bridge, a projection on the facade of the Guggenheim Museum, a multi-screen takeover of Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, and a partnership with Apple’s Vision Pro, all helping position the legacy brand at the forefront of innovation.

As Kiman and his team work to “launch the next chapter of Gucci and support our creative director,” they face many of the same headwinds affecting the luxury category broadly, which are reflected in recent sales numbers. But, as he told Forbes, “the customer will be the ultimate judge, (but) we are already seeing very positive early signals.”

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Jenna Lebel

Position: CMO

Company: Liberty Mutual

Because for Lebel, being an “underdog” is not just a reflection of market position and resources but has become the strategic fulcrum of her approach to ensuring marketing makes an outsized impact for this diversified global insurance company.

During what she tells Forbes was “a historically challenging year for the category, with the industry recording a net underwriting loss; the result of a variety of challenges, including high inflation, increased claims severity, rising loss costs, and severe weather events throughout the U.S.” Lebel and her team turned challenge into opportunity, “reevaluating and refining the ways we do business.” Without the benefit of the same capital resources or brand awareness as some of her category competitors, Lebel views “resilience, resourcefulness and a scrappy mindset” as central to the fabric of her marketing organization and approach.

With responsibility for all consumer and agent communications for a $30 billion dollar business unit, which also includes our award-winning internal creative agency, Lebel, to break down silos, she designed a new cross-functional marketing approach bringing together teams across Marketing, Media, and Research to better identify and address key business opportunities.

According to Lebel, over the past year, Liberty Mutual’s marketing has “maintained the most mentioned and memorable advertising while reducing expenditures by 50%.”

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Jenny Lewis

Position: Global CMO and President

Company: The Knot Worldwide

Because when your total addressable consumer market turns-over entirely every 12–18 months, Lewis and her team have to be in constant consumer acquisition mode, reinventing and optimizing how they reach and engage a relatively small market of consumers in order to better serve the small businesses that are the heart of the company’s wedding marketplace.

After seven-years as Head of Marketing and Mobility at Uber, Lewis told Forbes she came to The Knot “to be a change agent...making bold bets, embracing ambiguity, and not shying away from the unknown but, rather, embracing it as an opportunity.” She did. Within her first months at this B2B2C company, she developed a 3-Year Marketing Transformation vision and plan, in 8 months, created and scaled the company’s first Marketing Mix Model, allowing the brand “to make more intentional investment decisions rooted in long term behaviors and not just last clicks.”

Lewis’s responsibilities include all Marketing, Insights, and Editorial initiatives for the company’s 19 global brands across 16 countries. She also has oversight of two emerging businesses, The Bump and The Bash, where she serves as president and leads Sales, Marketing, Product, Engineering, and CX.

In the year ahead, Lewis and her team are focused on strengthening partnerships with wedding professionals, expanding marketplace listings, and empowering couples to “Free Celebration from Expectation.”

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Jeremy Lowenstein

Position: CMO and Head of International

Company: Milani Cosmetics

Because Lowenstein doesn’t just market a challenger brand in an ever-changing category, he markets with a challenger mindset. And, as he told Forbes, because he’s “comfortable with both winning and failing, and taking the learnings from both to keep improving.”

With deep category experience, Lowenstein’s approach to marketing is rooted in knowing that, as a smaller brand with less human and financial capital than others in the competitive set, the brand needs to be nimble, scrappy, and “lean into adjacent categories that are driving conversation and online engagement to help bring awareness and cultural relevance to Milani.”

He and his team did this with the launch of their “#NoFilterJustMilani” campaign, which was both brand and product-driven, as well as their “Chef’s Kiss” campaign, which leveraged food-culture on TikTok , and brought together TikTok chefs, mixologists, and beauty creators, to drive reach and engagement for this mass-market brand and product portfolio.

Tasked with guiding Milani’s product development, marketing, creative, Amazon, DTC, and general market efforts across 40 countries, Lowenstein defines his top priority for building this indie brand as focused on creating more top-of-funnel awareness and ”innovating product and inspiring culturally.”

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Lesya Lysyj

Position: Chief Marketing Officer

Company: The Boston Beer Company

Because Lysyj approaches marketing certain that “the status quo sucks,” and that, over time, learning from “smart failures” can be even more valuable than near-term successes. As she told Forbes, ”it’s all about leading in a way where learning, trying, succeeding, and failing” create opportunities for the company to dissect what went wrong to optimize moving forward.

Certain that you “never know where a good idea will come from or go,” and by actively highlighting and learning from these “smart failures,” Lysyj has built an entrepreneurial culture inside the marketing organization and given her team the permission and cover to “continually reach for something new and different.”

She told Forbes that examples of the new and different include having “had a fan marry a can of Hard Mountain Dew. Creating Twisted Tea underwear, ‘Vasectomundies’, with pockets for ice so the fellas can keep cool while recovering from a vasectomy during March Madness, and during Dry January, we gave away non-alcoholic Sam Adams’ Just the Haze to partners of pregnant spouses so they can drink non-alcoholic products in solidarity with their significant other.”

Changing alcohol and beer consumption behaviors among Gen Z in particular, creates category headwinds and challenges. But with oversight for all marketing and internal creative across the company’s brand portfolio, which includes Sam Adams, Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, and Dogfish Head, Lysyj is undaunted and tells Forbes that “Twisted and Modelo are the only two brands seeing any significant growth in the entire category.”

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Noel Mack

Position: Chief Brand Officer

Company: GymShark

Because Mack is helping build this U.K.-based gym brand by thinking, acting, and marketing as a “member of our community, not the owner of it.” And because at a time when many brands talk about the speed of culture, Gymshark moves at it, as Mack told Forbes, “by following in the footsteps of nobody else.”

Mack and his team have dispensed with traditional brand-building approaches and created a social template where brand-uniformity gives way to context and brand relevance. This approach finds Gymshark showing up, as he told Forbes, “as a different kind of person on each platform, depending on what works on that platform.”

As Global CBO, Mack’s biggest priority is ensuring Gymshark is known as “the first ever real gym brand, not a sports brand.” This finds Mack and his team leaning into social media as an aggregator of a community who “lives in the gym.”

One of the company’s first employees, Mack’s always looking for “a new idea or a new take on a moment where others don’t see the opportunity.” His entrepreneurial approach and oversight of Creative, Social, Influencer and Entertainment Marketing, PR, Events and Retail, Customer and Digital Experience, have added up to the brand, which is not venture-backed, achieving unicorn status.

The company recently reported that FY23 orders were up 13% YoY.

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Douglas Martin

Position: Chief Brand Disruptive Growth Officer

Company: General Mills

Because as Martin and his team steward this FMCG stalwart’s legacy brands and build what he tells Forbes is a “disruptive growth ecosystem,” he is creating the “space for failure,” knowing it’s a prerequisite for innovation.

Increasing brand value and creating new avenues of disruptive growth for the 150 brands he oversees across the company’s portfolio, requires disrupting internal processes as much as external outputs. “Ways of working are not often sexy stories,” Martin shared, “but in a big company they can be some of the most critical, and through some bumps and learnings, we’ve built a team and process that is more cross functional, iterative, and closer to the consumer's responses to our work. Our approach is to learn until failure, dust ourselves off, and pivot.”

Along with new structures, Martin and his team recognize that, as he told Forbes, “sure, a Cheerio is a crispy oat circle, but ‘Cheerios’ is a construct that lives in our consumer’s mind.” Unexpected collaborations like a line of Dunkaroos sneakers that launched on the NTWRK marketplace, CARBE DIEM!, a low-carb, high-fiber pasta created through their Gold Medal Ventures Group, are evidence of the work Martin and his team are doing to redefine and disrupt brand constructs and drive growth.

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Don McGuire

Position: SVP and CMO

Company: Qualcomm

Because McGuire markets knowing that, and as he told Forbes, “we cannot afford to be complacent or, at times, even compliant. It can be easier to play it safe, to live in the status quo, to move at a cadence that was acceptable yesterday. But we live in a world operating at the speed of TikTok—a whole new flow requiring new ways of thinking and working. “

Now in his third year as Qualcomm’s CMO, McGuire and his team drive the company’s enterprise diversification strategy, bringing its brand, products and services into new markets, industries, and consumer groups. McGuire has expanded the company’s marketing mix into areas once considered risky, including Qualcomm’s first, long-term strategic investments in brand partnerships like that with Manchester United. While sports sponsorship is not new in marketing, an investment of this kind was new to Qualcomm, and McGuire tells Forbes that moving from intent to execution required “convincing the rest of the C-suite to think entrepreneurially, and to understand the ROI.”

McGuire and his team are also charged with building awareness and affinity for the company’s consumer-facing ingredient brand, Snapdragon. Here, McGuire is building a “cross-pollination of partnerships and communities, allowing us to create bigger outcomes.” These include working with brands including Louis Vuitton, Cadillac, and Bose, each of whom highlighted Snapdragon in their own marketing.

As of April 10th, Qualcomm’s stock was up over 43% YoY.

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Tara McRae

Position: Chief Marketing & Digital Officer

Company: Clarks

Because on a journey to rejuvenate the centuries-old brand by building its cultural relevance and currency, McRae told Forbes she is “taking risks, being uncomfortable, and pushing the boundaries of what has not been done before.”

In a footwear industry that is no longer seeing the YoY growth that has defined its trajectory for some time, MCrae and her team approach marketing as if at a “200-year-old start up.” In this challenging environment, she takes a status-quo eschewing approach to reinvigorating Clark’s brand and business. She is moving fast, iterating, and optimizing, including overhauling the entirety of the company’s tech stack to better meet marketing’s evolving needs and approach. In just months, she and her team launched a new premium brand, Torhill, which became Clark’s best-selling premium line.

While smart partnerships aren’t in and of themselves evidence of the entrepreneurial, McRae’s specific approach to driving brand relevancy and desire has led to a dizzying portfolio of brand-redefining collaborations, including those with Ronnie Feig and Adidas, Pokémon, Supreme, and Art Basel; all of which McRae reports sold out quickly. By prioritizing the experiential, thinking unconventionally, and approaching the conventional differently, McRae and her team have delivered both commercial returns and, in December, found the brand sitting at #3 on Hypebeast’s Brand Ranking.

McRae tells Forbes that all brand and business metrics are up single to double digits YoY.

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Vineet Mehra

Position: CMO

Company: Chime

Because as Chime builds a brand and business intent on disrupting the trillion-dollar banking industry, Mehra is building “an entrepreneurial team and culture that believes anything is possible and that is allergic to the status quo,” as he told Forbes.

Because in a highly regulated industry, Mehra, the one-time CMO of Walgreen Boots Alliance, markets knowing that challenging industry stalwarts and norms “requires writing our own playbook instead of following others, being deeply curious, and innovating.” He is leading an organization and team focused on tearing down marketing silos between brand and performance, and is “rebuilding the organization to become a holistic performance storytelling engine, and activating this engine to take our brand and growth to the next level.”

By building Chime as a digital-first and social-media driven brand, and by not talking or acting like a bank but as a member of a community, Chime has become Instagram’s most followed banking brand. With nearly 1 million followers, Chime’s numbers are commensurate with much higher engagement categories. In order to destigmatize the taboos the brand’s millennial audience feels about talking about money, Chime created a table-top card game, Dollars & Sense, designed both to educate and facilitate conversations about money between families and friends. The game became what Mehra says is “a physical manifestation of our mission to help unlock financial progress.”

His entrepreneurial approach to building a brand-driven engine of growth, his allergy to the status-quo, and “audacious goal setting,” are paying dividends with members and prospective members alike. Mehra reports that the private company’s customer referral rate is 5x the national average, and 1.5x higher than its fintech competitors.

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Shakir Moin

Position: Chief of Marketing

Company: Coca-Cola North America

Because Moin brings a make-big-bets mindset to one of the world’s best-known portfolios of brands. Because despite the relative maturity of the categories in which he competes, he eschews the incremental in favor of the potentially exponential, looking for ideas that can drive 10x returns, not 10% ones.

Moin and his team have shifted marketing’s strategic focus from driving brand preference to a near singular effort to impact behavior, because, as he told Forbes, “behavior guarantees consumption, and consumption leads to growth.” This strategic shift is complemented by a creative one, focusing on work designed to create “goosebump ideas” that excite consumers, their bottling partners and network, and the industry at large.

Understanding he couldn’t transform the company’s marketing output without transforming its marketing organization, Moin shares that he architected a 3-year “marketing innovation agenda,” including a new portfolio management discipline, a “calendar of big bets,” and a new capabilities framework for the company. This streamlined structure puts all of the company’s NA beverage categories under the oversight of one CMO for the first time in a decade, facilitating greater consistency and, importantly, agility across the portfolio. “Though we are a big company, we are hungry, passionate, and fast; the gazelle that wakes up earlier than the lion.”

For the year-ended 2023, the Company reported organic revenue growth of 7% in North America.

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Nikki Neuburger

Position: Chief Brand Officer

Company: lululemon

Because for Neuburger, creating the “new” is both a set of objectives and a mandate for how she approaches marketing and driving growth across “new markets, new consumer segments and new product categories.”

Neuburger joined the company 4 years ago as its first Chief Brand Officer, after serving as Head of Marketing for Uber Eats, and a 14-year run at Nike. As she told Forbes, she places an entrepreneur’s premium on “curiosity, creativity, and growth,” as she and her team push the brand and business to “envision and design ideas that have never existed before.” She and her team redesigned the global marketing organization, creating change and scale across multiple fronts, from developing a proprietary media mix model from whole-cloth, innovation pipelines across product and marketing, to expanding the brand’s historical fitness focus to make room for it in the broader sports category.

With a portfolio of responsibilities far broader than that of a traditional CBO, Neuburger leads the company’s marketing as well as its Sustainability and Social Impact Portfolio across North America, APAC, EMEA, and China. As consumer expectations of brands have evolved, Neuburger has adjusted performance metrics for the brand to better align with the company’s values and is prioritizing long-term community relationships and value over short-term gains.

The company reported that FY23 revenues had increased 19% YoY.

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Micky Onvural

Position: Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Company: TIAA

Because while TIAA has long been a leader in providing retirement solutions, as Onvural told Forbes, in many respects, this has meant the company “has not had to compete for business. But with legislative changes, TIAA now operates in an increasingly competitive market, requiring us to shift our mindset.”

To shift mindsets, Onvural, the one-time CEO of Bonobos, is challenging long-established category norms and reinventing everything from the 100-year-old brand’s voice to its go-to-market approach. She and her team have developed what she calls a “learning and engagement framework,” changing the brand’s marketing operating model, and redefining the value TIAA brings to both its B2B and B2C audiences.

They’ve created the TIAA “Retirement Bill of Rights,” a tool designed “to educate policymakers and leaders on gaps and inequalities in America’s retirement system, while proposing a set of concrete, commonsense solutions.” They created TIAA TMRW, a publication that makes partners smarter about the industry and its evolution. Along with a group of hip-hop artists, an atypical collaboration for TIAA, they released an edu-tainment song addressing retirement gaps, and driving what she said were exponential engagement increases.

Focused on helping close America’s retirement and savings gaps, Onvural leads TIAA’s global marketing and communications team, including its retirement and wealth businesses, and Nuveen, their asset management brand.

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Emmanuel Orssaud

Position: CMO

Company: DuoLingo

Because Orssaud comes “to work every day thinking we might have to reinvent everything, because we don’t know everything.” And because he knows with certainty that “all of our current success grew out of failure,” he is, as he told Forbes, building a “nimble approach to marketing; cultivating a culture of exploration and evolution across all of our work by leaning into unpredictability.”

Stewarding Duolingo’s mission to expand access to quality education, Orssaud and his team are “throwing out the traditional marketing playbook and building our own, (finding) our way to a new and more complex understanding of what a brand can be.”

Orssaud uses humor, approachability, and a focus on the journey to fluency rather than, as some competitors do, the time it takes to get there. From the brand’s genre busting 5-second, regional Super Bowl commercial, created in-house, to turning their Owl mascot “into a glorified influencer,” to a partnership with anime platform Crunchyroll that brings Duolingo’s Japanese lessons to anime fans, Orssaud tells Forbes he creates “the freedom to experiment, push boundaries, flex creative muscles, and have courage. When something goes wrong—and things do go wrong—that misstep becomes a guideline for the next campaign or brand moment. That’s how we figure it out, from the bottom-up.” As example, learning from what was once a “failure,” Orssaud says social-media has become central to DuoLingo’s growth.

Orssaud’s commitment to solving problems creatively and not through spending is working. The company reported revenues had increased by more than 45% for the quarter ending December 2023.

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Drew Panayiotou

Position: Global CMO

Company: Pfizer

Because Panayiotou approaches marketing with, what he told Forbes is the “audacity to do what others consider impossible.” And because as Pfizer’s first global CMO, he is on a mission to revolutionize the pharmaceutical giant's marketing playbook and is intent on “bringing the best ideas forward faster.”

Charged by Pfizer’s CEO with ensuring the brand remains relevant and visible post-Covid, Panayiotou built what he describes as “central, first-of-its-kind capabilities focused on people, process and technology into an organization that didn’t have it.” On an unprecedented timeline of only four months, he led one of the largest media-agency reviews in recent times and a massive agency and content supply-chain consolidation. He and his team developed an e-commerce engagement model, VaxAssist, something he describes as “unheard of in pharma,” because they are “hyper focused on changing the way pharma reaches customers, and a DTC model is imperative.”

Panayiotou’s remit is global, with oversight of all marketing activities across all of Pfizer’s markets and products. He and his team are redefining who Pfizer is and how the brand presents itself, with a deep “conviction that creativity has the power to transform society.”

During the Super Bowl, the brand debuted “chapter one in a new corporate campaign, Let’s Outdo Cancer, both a specific call-to-action and the kick-off to the 175-year-old company’s future.”

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Thomas Ranese

Position: CMO

Company: Chobani

??Because Ranese is building a marketing organization that’s challenging CPG category conventions to “drive outsized engagement and brand relevance while letting us minimize traditional advertising spend.”

The one-time Global CMO at Uber sees his role at Chobani as much as “Chief Metamorphosis Officer” as chief marketing officer. Quick to apply lessons from the tech-industry he’s spent so much of his career within, Ranese tells Forbes he’s “reimagined marketing to bring together the consumer-first discipline of CPG with the high-growth and agile mindset of tech marketing, creating a ‘Product Marketing’ team modeled after tech.”

Ranese and his team are doing this in order to transform Chobani’s growth strategy from what was historically distribution-driven to one driven by consumer-demand and increased household penetration. To these ends, he’s built a “launch & iterate” approach to how the brand, and the company’s expanding product portfolio, go to market, “identifying and optimizing effective tactics to scale—like you would in a tech startup.” Because “in today’s world, actions speak louder than ads,” as he told Forbes, Ranese is directing his team to lean into what he describes as packaging-led storytelling and experiential activations.

Focused on creating “irrational preference for our products and permission to innovate into new channels and categories,” Ranese is redefining the company’s marketing and helping redefine the privately held company as much more than a Greek yogurt brand.

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David Rubin

Position: Chief Brand and Communications Officer, The New York Times, and Publisher of Wirecutter

Company: The New York Times Company

??Because as Rubin leads brand and communications for the 173-year-old brand and global icon, he recognizes that “knowing the balance between sticking to core principles and knowing when to vary, reinvent and be scrappy” is, as he told Forbes, essential to the company’s continued growth.

As The Times’s subscription strategy evolves, Rubin plays a central role in “driving The Times’s digital transformation, generating critical and strategic changes that have grown the business from less than two million subscribers when I arrived to more than 10 million subscribers today.” The evolution in the company’s subscription strategy requires that Rubin and his team also evolve their messaging strategy in turn, being both vigilant about what absolutely can’t change and “strategic and scrappy elsewhere.”

Rubin and his team are quick to adapt and iterate, both leading and responding to shifting cultural perceptions about journalism, and the brand.As the notion of “truth”—long core to The Times’s brand—has become debatable and fungible recently, Rubin has led the company’s award-winning, multi-year, Truth campaigns, the most recent being “The Truth Is Worth It.”

He leads all corporate, brand and internal messaging, PR, public affairs, and enterprise-wide brand strategy for The Times and its products. In Q4 2023, The Times passed $1 billion in annual digital subscription revenue for the first time.

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Maggie Schmerin

Position: Chief Advertising Officer

Company: United Airlines

??Because inside United, Schmerin is building a culture and marketing approach “challenging the status quo and throwing out the textbook on what ‘advertising’ is supposed to be.”

Schmerin recently wrote on LinkedIn that “we’ve all heard enough corporate-speak about an ‘entrepreneurial mindset,’” and that she prefers the French roots of the word “entrepreneur,” which translates as “adventurer.”

This adventurer’s spirit is focused on creating brand differentiation amongst what she sees as a category sea-of-sameness. Schmerin told Forbes, that she and her team are “not only differentiating our product offerings, our service and network, but how we go to market; pushing the boundaries of what advertising and marketing is.”

Unconstrained by traditional marketing playbooks and ad-formats, Schmerin and her marketing team have made a six-minute holiday rom-com and promoted it on Bumble; created content ranging from that showing the little considered “humorous side of travel,” to a spot about crying on planes which she explained “everyone from your teenage daughter to grandpa has told us they can relate to.” And to bring the carrier’s efforts to turn waste into jet fuel to life, she and her team turned to Oscar the Grouch to be “Chief Trash Officer” and a spokesperson.

As Chief Advertising Officer, (United doesn’t use the CMO title) Schmerin leads marketing efforts globally. The company reports that for the quarter ending December 23, revenue was up nearly 10% YoY.

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Stephanie Sherman

Position: CMO

Company: DraftKings

Because in a relatively new category, and a landscape that expands and shifts as more states legalize sports betting, driving growth requires Sherman evolve DraftKings’ marketing to new markets and consumer behaviors, in real-time.

Sherman was one of the first employees of what is now among the leading digital sports entertainment and gaming companies, meaning that she and her team have built the DraftKings’ brand and marketing organization from the ground up, amidst the aforementioned rapid change. For Sherman, this requires marketing with a sense of urgency, and as she told Forbes, constantly “iterating on key learnings and improving strategies.”

As CMO, Sherman’s focused on “finding a true balance between testing and learning to drive the company forward.” Through experimentation and constant optimization of new approaches for each state-level launch, she and her marketing org are taking “big swings while staying nimble.” To these ends, they are creating new ways for the brand to approach the biggest moments in sports, moments which drive so much of their growth. Her adaptive and make-more-from-less marketing approach is evident, as just one example, in the brand’s multi-channel strategy for this year’s Super Bowl, where, “without airing an in-game national TV spot,” she tells Forbes, “DraftKings was the most downloaded sportsbook app.”

The company reported revenue growth of 76%+ YoY, for FY2023.

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Dan Slagen

Position: CMO

Company: Tomorrow.io

Because as CMO of this relatively new, weather industry company, Slagen told Forbes he markets with the conviction that “following a standard marketing playbook net expected results. By taking risks, the goal is to push the limits of what’s considered ‘industry standard’ or even ‘best in class.’”

Slagen’s marketing org is leading how the brand communicates its unique value to its multiple constituencies and focuses on “translating the technical aspects into tangible benefits.” To bring these tangible benefits to life, he and the company built Gale, a dual-purpose tool and what Slagen says is the industry’s first weather-and-climate AI. The value Gale brings is two-fold, providing customers the ability to track and mitigate weather-related risks and serving as a lead-generation tool. In what he tells Forbes is another industry first, Slagen and his team created ClimaCon, the industry’s only weather intelligence conference.

Slagen credits being quick to adopt AI, with giving his small team the tools to “push the limits” of what they could do. “We’ve applied AI to our content, video, events, PR, lead generation, product marketing, sales enablement...improving productivity 30% or more in some areas, while increasing lead generation 50%, and being ROI-positive on marketing.”

With a team of only four and a marketing budget under one million dollars, Slagen has helped turn the Series E company’s brand into one of the best recognized in its category.

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Lynn Teo

Position: CMO

Company: Northwestern Mutual

Because since she joined the company only 16 months ago, Teo has ??transformed marketing at this 166-year-old financial security enterprise into an agile and integrated practice area, helping the Northwestern Mutual brand break out of what she tells Forbes is a category “sea of sameness.”

Knowing “the future of marketing at the company was in activating the distribution network and being intentional in crafting a marketing vision and strategy that more closely reflected our B2B2C model,” Teo moved quickly to realign the marketing function with the company’s “foundational” B2B2C business model. This structural change has allowed Teo and her team to disrupt the traditional and build a more modern, sophisticated marketing mix, placing increased focus on marketing’s effectiveness not just efficiency.

Teo is building the Northwestern Mutual marketing machine as “full-funnel, data-led, and engaged in both brand and demand marketing activities.” She and her team have redefined the company’s marketing function from that of an “untapped growth driver for the enterprise” and nascent and isolated function within the enterprise to, as she tells Forbes, a “hybrid Center-of-Excellence and route-to-market structure.”

The company recently reported that in 2023, and despite market fluctuations, it had “generated revenue of more than $36 billion and ended the year with a surplus that surpassed $38 billion, both high watermarks for the company.”

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Sehr Thadhani

Position: Chief Digital Officer

Company: Nasdaq

Because Thadhani is demystifying and differentiating this capital markets’ brand by “inviting ecosystems of people in to feel and experience Nasdaq.”

Thadhani’s strategy recognizes that Nasdaq’s is a complex and far-reaching business, one that has long had disruption at its core. She told Forbes that her approach to driving brand, and business returns is rooted in an understanding that because “the opportunities are endless...it’s important to convene across lines. Collaboration—especially from the most unexpected places—creates the conditions for fresh thinking and healthy debate, which are critical to building defensible ideas that can scale.“

Thadhani has responsibility for driving growth for the exchange through the lens of brand positioning and competitive differentiation, client engagement and experience, content and B2B marketing and partnerships. She and her team are “taking strategic and calculated bets on industries, stakeholders, and sectors to catalyze future growth, engagement, revenue, relevance and reach.”

As example, she turned a milestone moment in the private-to-public-company journey, ringing NASDAQ’s opening/closing bell and, as she told Forbes, uses it “to create a meaningful experience for (those) who haven’t had a chance to experience the public markets in an up close and personal way. This is shifting the conversation and putting the brand at the center of what’s relevant, from culture to business.”

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Alicia Tillman

Position: CMO

Company: Delta Air Lines

Because in a category where purchase decisions are heavily influenced by price, Tillman is applying experiential lessons learned from luxury, a category infrequently associated with airline brand marketing or low prices, to differentiate and “evolve Delta beyond its category and into a leading consumer experience brand.”

Having spent most of her career with large companies, Tillman told Forbes she has learned “that continuous leadership takes constant reinvention.” And she has been quick to reinvent and transcend the constraints of category perceptions to become “part of our customer’s lifestyle and their consumer experience brand of choice.” Leaning into luxury category lessons and to recruit the next generation(s) of loyal fliers, Tillman and her team reinterpreted what an airline loyalty program can be, turning SkyMiles into something “striking a balance between expected benefits, and new, more experiential ones.” It seems to have worked, as Tillman reports Delta added 10.9M new SkyMiles members, “65% (of whom) were 40 and younger.”

With global oversight of brand strategy, advertising, sponsorships, membership and loyalty marketing, partnerships, and product marketing etc., among many other immersive activations, Tillman and her team opened an arguably unexpected, branded retail pop-up this past Holiday, an effort hailed as one of “20 Campaigns That Made Creatives Jealous in 2023.”

At the end of FY23, Delta reported operating revenue had increased 20% YoY.

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Karin Timpone

Position: EVP and CMO

Company: Major League Baseball

Because in a year where the rules and thus the product MLB put on the field were reimagined, Timpone led an evolution in the how, where, when and why “America’s Game” drove fan growth.

The one-time Marriott CMO, now in her third year as the league’s CMO, makes clear that “baseball is a team sport, so it follows that marketing baseball is a team effort as well.” By seeking and then leveraging ideas from different functions within MLB and its clubs, Timpone and her team created a new, performance-driven media spend strategy, optimizing to reach new fans and displaced fans.

“Partnering with our ticketing teams and Clubs to support a league-wide effort to drive attendance and effectively convert energy around the sport into business outcomes,” Timpone told Forbes the work drove “double digit returns on ad spend.”

To take advantage of the game’s rule’s changes, Timpone also reinterpreted MLB’s positioning to “acknowledge baseball’s traditions while expressing the dynamic experience of the game.” This came to life with the ‘Baseball is Something Else’ tagline and brand effort. In order to promote baseball’s cultural connections, Timpone and her team are building new partnerships across food, music, and fashion, modernizing and expanding the game’s relevancy with new audiences without alienating existing ones.

In 2023, MLB fan attendance was up 9.6% YoY.

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Nick Tran

Position: CMO

Company: FarFetch

Because Tran’s definition of being an entrepreneurial CMO doesn’t just stop at taking smart risks but revolves around “reducing the resources required to develop best-in-class work.”

The former Global Head of Marketing at TikTok, is unfazed by the well-documented financial challenges and corporate tumult that FarFetch has been facing. To the contrary, as Tran told Forbes, “constraints actually drive creativity and innovation” and serve as a marketing catalyst, not limitations.

As an example of his approach to reducing the resources required to do brand and business building work, Tran and his team launched their new campaign, FarFetch It, by identifying luxury items that other marketers would advertise during the Super Bowl. With the intent of making “fashion inspired by cultural moments exclusively available to FarFetch customers globally,” among others they worked with PepsiCo’s Starry brand and luxury sportswear brand Just Don, recreating, and releasing the “Starry BreakUp Sweatshirt” because as he told Forbes, “we recognized the iconic significance of this sweatshirt, its relevance and ability to drive conversation and break the boundaries of fashion and culture.”

Tran’s remit covers all aspects of marketing globally, including strategy, brand campaigns, creative, media, social, and experiential. Since coming to FarFetch he’s built a global marketing team rooted in the conviction that by taking more risks and pushing for innovation, marketing is better positioned to deliver “exponential” results.

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Gayle Troberman

Position: CMO

Company: iHeartMedia

Because Troberman is “willing to say the hard things, own the failures not just the wins,” and is building an entrepreneurial marketing and learning culture inside an audio media company challenging visual media trends.

With an entrepreneur’s focus on “breaking conventional wisdom barriers,” Troberman told Forbes that she and her team decided they needed to break the ad-industry’s bias for visuals and bias against audio, biases she says leaves marketers out of touch with “real American consumers.” An example she cites: while most every marketer knows “Succession” that’s much less true for the rest of America.

To these ends, Troberman and her team partnered with Malcolm Gladwell and his Pushkin Media, to create a “groundbreaking study” of this New American Consumer, to reframe audio consumption within the context of the larger, American population, and as a B2B conversation starter, education tool, and sales lever. She reports that the study’s results were heard by more than 50,000 marketers in forums large and small, making the case for an audio bias, and unlocking new revenues.

The one-time CCO at Microsoft, Troberman’s remit includes thought leadership, seller, and client consulting, ensuring iHeart makes the right technology and ad tech investments, and overseeing teams focusing on B2B marketing and sales. Beyond this, Troberman continues building new systems “designed to break rules, innovate and drive revenue through new ideas and experiences for brands” across the company’s vast audio ecosystem.

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Ken Turner

Position: CMO

Company: Fanatics Collectibles

Because Turner is energizing a staid category by thinking differently about its go-to-market approach, and applying lessons learned from other categories to the disruption of their own.

Previously Red Bull’s CMO, Turner tells Forbes he and his team are “building a marketing muscle that didn’t exist in collectibles; focusing on the development of strong product marketing and grass roots experiential, leveraging league and athlete partners for story amplification.” He is working to push the boundaries of category marketing with campaigns embodying his “fail small in order to grow big” ethos.

In the past year, this led to work including cultural conversation-creating campaigns imagining what would have happened if Tom Brady played baseball, and launching Fanatics’ partnership with Lebron James. As he told Forbes,“ while (LeBron) may seem like a standard marketing campaign, it was the first time we put a campaign on linear television and is more about (our) mindset and how we partnered to deliver our marketing message efficiently.”

To ensure the category expands, Turner is baking the entrepreneurial qualities he considers essential to growth—“ownership, innovation, calculated risk taking, a sense of urgency”—into his talent acquisition process and team performance objectives. And since a rising tide lifts all boats, ahead of a speculated IPO, Turner’s focus is on growing the number of collectors, both domestically and internationally.

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Katelyn Watson

Position: CMO

Company: Talkspace

Because Watson and her team build marketing campaigns as “minimum-viable-products,” and because, as she told Forbes, she’s building Talkspace marketing to “swing smart before big,” looking to prove traction with new initiatives and approaches before going all-in.

With a career spent in the health-tech space, when Watson joined Talkspace she moved quickly to overhaul marketing and media spending within the high-growth company. She combined previously siloed consumer and enterprise businesses under one umbrella, ensuring insights from the platform’s clinicians are embedded in their creative and media strategies.

Understanding that time, not just money spent, is an investment, Watson has designed internal measurements and metrics to quantify marketing’s Return-on-Effort, as an essential part of its Return-on-Investment. “When standing up something new, I ask, how can we get a signal if this is right to try versus going all the way? Sometimes marketers want to go all the way in without first having a signal that it’s the right thing.”

By unifying Talkspace’s enterprise and DTC marketing engines, she’s better able to subvert the cultural perception of therapy as a luxury. She told Forbes “I want everyone to know if they need help, they can get it here.”

The company reported Q4 revenue was up 40% YoY.

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Katie Welch

Position: CMO

Company: Rare Beauty

Because Welch is building a marketing team and culture “where everyone is willing to try something new, something that could fail.” Not yet five years-old, Rare Beauty, founded by Selena Gomez, has already expanded beyond its DTC roots, becoming a top-selling Sephora brand, and landing on Fast Company’s Brands That Matter List.

In helping build this purpose-driven beauty brand and business, Welch tells Forbes she is as focused on human impact as bottom-line impact. By unifying various channels, departments, and categories into a powerful marketing function and culture, the structure she and the team have built from scratch drives cross-pollination of insights and allows the brand to “collectively align and move forward in tandem.”

Welch oversees brand, product and consumer marketing, social impact, PR, influencer, and partnerships across 35 global markets. As CMO, she advocates for “the courage to push for long term success, not simply short-term wins.” This includes the brand’s expansion into a new body-care line, the Find Comfort Collection, which was “brought to life with the launch of Comfort Club—a destination to explore self-comfort moments. We borrowed “comfort equity” through partnerships with brands like Beyond Yoga, The NOW, Open, and Too Collective. Each helping us create a safe space for our community to find comfort.”

The company has recently been reported in talks to sell at a $2B valuation.

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Michelle Wong

Position: CMO

Company: Sprinkles

Because Wong has been central to “launching something new at a scale the brand has never executed before,” expanding the 19-year-old Sprinkles business from a cupcake brand to a premium CPG chocolate brand with distribution of entirely new products across thousands of retail locations.

While Wong and her team are growing within the category by enlisting diverse talent including Chefs Claudette Zepeda and Padma Lakshmi to ensure they are authentically tapping into Latin and Asian flavors, they’re also actively building a brand transcending cupcakes by, as she told Forbes, “taking calculated risks and thinking differently about how to evolve beyond red velvet, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes.”

To these ends, Wong and the team expanded beyond the brand’s category by borrowing equity from a portfolio of lifestyle-brand partnerships. Amongst other things, this brand elasticity created the permission and paved the road to becoming a nationally distributed brand in a new product format. Seeing a product and positioning void in the market Wong, a one-time chef and creative agency head, identified a business opportunity. “Everyday chocolate is fun but lacks quality,” she said. “Premium chocolate has quality but conjures up less-than-joyful images of women eating a small square of candy in solitude.”

From this insight, and years of brand building, with Wong helping drive it, the company is soon launching that which is poised to transform them—Sprinkles Chocolate, a brand and product extension “marrying premium and fun,” and soon available across thousands of Walmart and Target stores.

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