How To Build A Stronger Marketing Career Path

Marketing Career Path

At MarketPro, we have the privilege of working with a lot of executive marketing leaders… so we created a simple podcast concept called Just Three Things to share the insights of these executives and their marketing career paths.

These are short interviews highlighting three pieces of advice from a marketing leader who is willing to share their experience.

Regardless of where you are in your career, there’s never truly an end to your journey. With this in mind, Rob Collins, Principal at MarketPro, the leading marketing executive search firm, sat down with Jo Ann Herold, Chief Marketing Officer at The Honey Baked Ham Company to uncover three things she would tell herself at different stages in her career.

Tips For Building A Stronger Marketing Career Path:

Video Transcript

Welcome to Just Three Things, a podcast series from MarketPro the leader in high-end marketing executive search. As a team of former marketers, we are uniquely qualified to spot top performers. We created this series to help give back to the next generation of marketing leaders. Today’s insights come from Joanne Harold, Chief Marketing Officer of the Honey Baked Ham Company. Today Joanne reveals just three things that she’d tell her younger self.

So, Joanne today we’re talking about three things that you would tell yourself at different stages in your marketing career path, what’s your first one?

The first one is starting out and especially even in college, is to take as many courses that are relevant in the field. So, whether that’s communication or public speaking, take those courses and then throughout stages of the career, volunteer or be at the table say raise your hand and say you’ll do it and then show the results and capture those and keep a file of good things that have happened and then along the way, LinkedIn is one of the best tools as far as branding and communicating with others about what’s going on. So, leverage that tool but also have fun and be brave and bold and make friends at work and even best friends at work. I’ve found that if I have a best friend at work, I’m happier and excited to go in and share and have somebody to go to lunch with. So those are the things along the way that you know as I look back that I’ve learned and sometimes I wish I knew and also in challenging situations just know that this too will pass and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So, um you know there are great learning experiences.

Well and I think the theme there is available, inquisitive, you know open and those are great things.

Yeah, and also volunteering and saying you know if there’s a project, I want to do that, I want to be involved or I’ll take it and I’ll lead.

Sure, sure so what would you’re the second piece of advice be?

As far as um education, I know this is something you asked about, um furthering education and I, early on during my marketing career path I um got my degree in communications and public relations and worked in the workforce for about 10 years and had the opportunity to go back and get my MBA and people have asked you know do I need to do that and the answer is no, you don’t need to necessarily go back and get your MBA but what it did do for me is that it broadened my business acumen and I learned so much, not about not only about marketing and advertising but about supply chain and economics and statistics and accounting and legal and so it made me more comfortable and more confident at the table and then from there I was able to go on and be an adjunct professor in my spare time. So, while it’s not absolutely necessary it’s certainly a good thing to do, and being able to do so and have the time to do so is to on further.

And certainly, important as you move up in the organization, to your point to understand the supply side, supply change, understand finance, to understand what your other peers on the c-suite are doing so that you can speak into the business more intelligently.

Right, exactly. Yeah, and just great exposure all the way around.

And the other thing, if you can’t spend the time to get an MBA or might be a resource, might be a time issue, be a lifelong learner.

Exactly, exactly even um Google has all kinds of certifications that are out there, that are free. It’s really just taking the time to get those certifications and learning and being a sponge.

Right, exactly.

And all of those things just add to the fabric of who you become and give you insights.


What would your last piece of advice be?

Well, I think one of your questions was what does it take to get to the c-suite and stay there.

Those are two different things, getting there and staying there are way too different things.

Well, C-suite executives are almost like elite athletes who have to have all the good skills, and if they don’t have all the good skills to know where to hire and um work with others who have those skills. So, it really is about knowing your numbers, knowing the industry, being involved, being engaged, showing results, and bringing the business and the brand forward. So, it’s a lot of work, a lot of fun but also it takes a lot of teamwork.

Everyone has an opinion on marketing because it’s easy, right? No, because it’s very complex and everybody has a different take on it.  How do you take a board member as an example who has a certain point of view and bring them around to how you’re thinking about the business?

So, often it’s analytics and data are one way because marketing is what’s considered a soft science. So, to the extent, I can have any insights data um around it.  Sometimes it’s experiencing and it’s just you know; you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Sometimes it’s you know following up with a phone call and really listening to what their concerns might be.

I think that is so key is having the relationship and understanding when someone in authority above you or around you or someone that you need to influence, really establishing that relationship so you can understand where they’re coming from and you don’t have to do it the way that they would do it but you do have to be transparent in your process to build that credibility and confidence.

Yeah, exactly, and then on the advertising piece is really diving into the brief and sweating the brief and making sure that it’s you know on strategy and on point and then that any kind of follow-up advertising communication translation is all tied back to the brief and the original intent.


So, I’ll do a lot of work on the brief and communicating what we’re trying to do, and aligning it to strategy and goals.

Perfect. Joanne, thank you so much, we appreciate your time today. Just three things that will make you a better marketer. Thank you, Joanne, for joining us.

Thank you, Rob.

Special thanks to Joanne and the ham fam, treat your friends to the best tailgate food with honey baked.  Order online or call the store to place your tailgate order at Thanks for joining us on this edition of just three things, part of MarketPro’s leadership podcast series. MarketPro is the leading high-end executive search firm delivering top-performing innovative marketers. 

Be A Seeker of Knowledge

Jo Ann’s first advice is to be a seeker of knowledge. You can grow your knowledge base in multiple ways — from taking as many relevant career-related classes as you can to volunteering on various projects. Building a broad base of understanding helps you understand different concepts and points of view. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert on everything but knowing enough to ask the right questions can be very useful.

Herold loves volunteering because there’s no better way to learn something than to have hands-on experience. Over time you start to build a portfolio of results and accomplishments that all started by saying “I’ll do it”. It also shows that you are willing to take initiative and risk.

She also suggests keeping a file of your accomplishments and achievements — and updating your LinkedIn profile along the way. It’s a great ways to showcase your marketing career path and helps you connect with others who have similar interests.

Importantly, while you’re doing this, Herold says, make sure to have fun. Be brave, be bold, make friends at work— it makes the job much more enjoyable and helps you keep things in perspective during challenging times.

Furthering Your Education

Jo Ann’s second piece of advice ties to the first. If possible, make your knowledge-seeking something that is formal in the form of education. Is it absolutely critical? She says no but after ten years in the workforce, she went back to school to get her MBA.

She found benefit in that it helped her develop her business acumen for areas outside of marketing. It gave her more confidence working with her C-Suite peers with insights into how accounting, legal, supply chain, and other areas of the business perform and are evaluated.

She loved it so much that later she was able to apply her experience to be an adjunct professor and teach marketing concepts. “While it’s not necessary”, Herold says, “I would still recommend it if you have the opportunity”.

Keys to C-Suite Success

Herold says C-Suite executives are similar to professional athletes. It’s a continual training and learning process but you won’t know everything. As you develop a broad base of knowledge, know where your weaknesses are so that you can hire a team around you to fill areas where you have a gap.

Because marketing is often viewed as a soft science, Herold suggests using analytics and data wherever possible to report on the results of the marketing team. In areas where data is tougher to come by, build relationships with key stakeholders and be transparent in your process so that you can have open dialogue and discussion with your CEO and board. At the CMO level, you are charged with moving the brand and the revenue forward so ensure that you know how the company defines success and can articulate key performance indicators.

And finally, align on strategy upfront — sweat the details and make sure that your efforts tie back to the original strategic intent. By implementing these tips into your daily routine, you will ensure your marketing career path will grow stronger each day.

Author: Rob Collins