Growth is the goal of every business, whether in terms of revenue, market share or both. Facing increasing competition, more and more organizations are looking to marketing as a way to achieve sustainable growth, with a greater emphasis on reaching and retaining customers. This heightened focus on marketing as a catalyst for growth has led to the creation of a relatively new senior-level marketing role, that of the chief growth officer (CGO).
The CGO works across various departments in an organization, including marketing, sales, product development and finance, to help develop strategy and achieve growth. In many ways, the CGO has a hybrid role, uniquely suited to break through the operational silos that naturally occur in any business.
While the CGO role is less common than other C-suite positions such as chief executive officer (CEO) or chief operating officer (COO), it is gaining in popularity. Several large corporations employ CGOs or similarly growth-focused executives, including CVS Health, General Electric Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Kellogg’s.
As with other C-level positions, a chief growth officer’s salary typically is generous, which means competition for this role is high. Business professionals who are interested in taking the next big step in their career and helping drive growth at their organization as a CGO should consider pursuing an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Organizational Management.
Chief Growth Officer Job Description
As marketing has become increasingly complex — due to advances in technology and the growing power of consumers — the traditional senior marketing executive, the chief marketing officer (CMO), has been joined by another, the CGO.
While these roles overlap somewhat, the CGO generally has a wider range of responsibilities that extend beyond marketing strategy, at the core of which is a focus on business growth. To realize that growth, a chief growth officer’s job description may include the following duties:
Working Across Departments
A key difference between the CGO and CMO roles is the CGO’s ability to bridge various departments in pursuit of growth. They’re tasked with understanding every aspect of a company’s operations — from sales and marketing to finance — and how each influences consumer opinion and activity.
Using Technology to Drive Growth
Modern marketing technology allows companies to better analyze and understand their customers and the market itself. CGOs need to know which technological tools can help their business achieve its strategic objectives and how to use them. According to a report from Singular, companies with CGOs heading up their marketing strategy are 65% more likely to invest in new marketing technology, like data analytics, and 48% more likely to employ marketing tools driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Knowing the Customer
An understanding of their organization’s customers is essential to a CGO’s success. CGOs use marketing technology to glean insights about consumer needs and expectations, along with their overall perception of the brand. They also use this data to develop strategy — in collaboration with other business units — and inform product development, with the goal of maximizing customer loyalty, improving customer acquisition and retention rates, and ultimately driving growth.
How to Become a Chief Growth Officer
Becoming a successful CGO requires a comprehensive understanding of the various components of a business and how they work together to achieve growth. Developing the expertise to qualify for such a C-level role typically entails an advanced education and several years of practical experience.
Level of education and experience, along with the skills they bring to the table, can also influence a chief growth officer’s salary.
C-level executives, including CGOs, typically need an advanced degree in business or a related field, such as a Master of Science in Organizational Management or a Master of Business Administration. These programs provide students with a comprehensive understanding of business operations and help hone leadership and management skills. They may also explore topics such as innovation, growth and data analysis, all critical concepts for aspiring CGOs to understand.
Extensive experience is generally needed to advance to any C-level position. Because these individuals are often responsible for managing a team or department, CGOs typically have prior leadership experience, for example, as a director. Since the role involves collaborating with various departments, CGOs also benefit from having multiple years of practical experience in a business environment working alongside other professionals.
CGOs should possess a diverse skill set, blending technical expertise and business intelligence with a range of soft skills that complement their leadership capabilities. Some of the more vital skills include:
Effective communication is critical for any leadership role. CGOs typically manage a team and collaborate with professionals in other business units. They also need to be able to communicate the organization’s vision and strategy to employees at every level, which may entail preparing written reports and giving presentations.
CGOs need to be experts on their particular industry, with an understanding of past and potential future trends. By staying ahead of market trends, they can drive growth, optimize internal operations and keep costs down. Expert knowledge of the market landscape will also help CGOs better understand their customers.
Understanding of the Customer
CGOs should have a deep understanding of their customer base. Knowing what their customers want and how their expectations may shift can help build trust and brand loyalty. CGOs need to support both customer acquisition and customer retention.
Technology is central to a CGO’s job. CGOs increasingly use marketing technology, like analytics and AI/machine learning tools, to explore market trends and glean insights about their customers. CGOs should have a mastery of the technology at their disposal and understand the limitations of these tools so they can help their organization make smart investments.
Chief Growth Officer Salary
Because of their senior role and the level of responsibility they’re entrusted with, CGOs typically are well-compensated. Like executives in most other C-suite roles, CGOs regularly earn six-figure salaries.
The median annual wage for chief executives was $185,950 in May 2020, while that of general and operations managers was $103,650, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Salaries for top executives vary substantially depending on their individual role, their industry and the size of the company they work for. A CGO’s overall compensation may also include stock options and performance bonuses, along with numerous other benefits and perks that affect their salary.
While it doesn’t provide chief growth officer salary information, PayScale pegs the median annual salary for chief development officer (CDO) and chief operating officer (COO) — similar C-level roles — at around $116,000 and $144,700, respectively, as of January 2022. Salaries for these roles ranged widely, from $74,000 up to $200,000-plus.
In addition to industry and company size, salaries for top executives can also be influenced by an individual’s experience level and location. Salaries for both CDOs and COOs rise steadily as they accrue more experience, according to PayScale. Chief executives in major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles also tend to earn more than the national average, due in part to the competitive nature of the job market in those areas.
Drive Business Growth with a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management
With their mastery of marketing technology and expertise in business operations, CGOs are increasingly instrumental to business growth. A role that extends beyond that of a traditional marketing executive, the CGO combines an understanding of consumer behavior with an ability to work across and align different business units to achieve growth.
If you’re interested in a business career where you can break new ground and help an organization explore new avenues for growth, consider Peru State College’s online Master of Science in Organizational Management (MSOM). The program’s focus on entrepreneurship and economic development is ideal for those seeking a leadership role that will allow them to innovate and stay on top of emerging trends. The program curriculum explores fundamental concepts for aspiring CGOs, including courses such as Organization Development and Change, Management of Innovation and Growth, and Statistical Methods and Data Analysis.
Discover how the MSOM program can help you develop the skills to spearhead growth and succeed as a business leader.