Hiring marketing leaders across sectors to transform businesses in Germany


Traditionally, when recruiting a marketing leader, a business looks for someone with the right skillset and broad experience in the sector in which they operate. The latter is now changing. The German businesses that we are working with are looking beyond their own sector and it’s proving a very successful way of driving transformation within their organisations.

In this age of disruption, new entrants in all markets have drastically changed the way that consumers interact with brands, and ultimately transformed the buying process. This is most obvious in the Berlin tech hubs. Lean, agile startups are challenging the status quo and are becoming genuine competitors to the larger brands. Take fintech as an example. The startups that we have worked with will tend to focus on one thing, one process, and find an efficient, speedy and cost-effective solution that they can sell quickly to consumers or embed in larger organisations to streamline the service that they offer – the financial services sector and technology sector are crossing over like they haven’t before. The high street is another example. Shops now compete with the online marketplace and as a result retail and technology are also experiencing this crossover. Every sector is being transformed through technology.

What does this mean for the traditional organisations in Germany? They need to adapt quickly, if they haven’t already, and one of the most efficient ways of doing this that we’ve seen is to take marketing expertise from technology companies, growth companies or startups and embed that insight and energy into their organisation. It works both ways. Fintech organisations and online marketplaces have also benefitted from the experience of a more traditional marketer.

What are the benefits of hiring across sectors? It can be transformational for a business in facilitating growth, affecting change and gaining competitive advantage. It is a delicate process though and not without risk. Moving sectors can result in shorter tenure for Chief Marketing Officers due to frustrations of not being able to implement the strategies that they want to. A business therefore needs to be ready for change. If stakeholders aren’t bought into the process, then it is unlikely to succeed. The professional that you hire also needs to be adaptable, persuasive and sensitive to the nuances of the sector they are moving to.

Businesses also need to attract the right professional, so working on their employer brand is essential before starting to recruit. Have a firm grasp of the objectives of the business, where do you want to be in 2/5/10 years’ time? Increasingly important in employer branding is purpose. Businesses in Germany are investing significantly in undertaking business in such a way that is has a positive impact on its employees and the community around it. Those organisations that have genuine purpose (and being genuine is essential here) tend to attract and retain the best talent.

When you find your new marketing leader, the work doesn’t end there. Especially when recruiting across sectors those first few months in a role are pivotal. Make sure that you look after your hire and give them the support and access that they need to achieve the objectives that you’ve set. And ultimately, remain open-minded and ready to accept a new way of marketing your business. With this mindset at every level of your business, the results can very quickly speak for themselves.


Bilall Yunus is a Senior Consultant at tml Partners and specialises in senior marketing and product appointments across Germany. He has particular expertise on executive searches in Germany for Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Product Officers, Marketing Directors and VPs of Product.

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