February 15, 2018 – The University of Missouri System has enlisted executive search firm Buffkin / Baker to fill the position of executive director for the joint office of strategic communications and marketing. The incoming executive will serve as the chief marketing and communications officer for the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) and for the UM System.
The incoming leader should have a clear, strategic vision that will advance the communications and marketing efforts of the institution in a collaborative way, according to the search firm. The successful candidate is expected to have an outstanding record of leading modern public relations, communications, marketing and crisis communications efforts. Supporting both Alex Cartwright, the chancellor of MU, and Mun Choi, the president of the UM System, this position is responsible for the leadership and management of branding, marketing, public relations and strategic communications.
The University of Missouri wants a dynamic and proven leader for the role, said Buffkin / Baker. The individual will be charged with enhancing the reputation and visibility of the university and furthering its position as a premier land-grant and AAU institution. Candidates should be highly involved in developing university-wide strategies for increasing local, national, and international recognition of the institution’s excellence in teaching, research, extension, service and economic development.
Prospects should also have a proven record of success in leading communications, marketing, branding, or public relations, with previous experience in higher education preferred, the search firm said. They should have significant experience and demonstrable skills in leading and managing progressive change in a complex environment, similar to that which exists in a modern land-grant university.
The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Today, the UM System is one of the nation’s largest higher education institutions, with more than 75,000 students on four campuses, a health care enterprise and an extension program with activities in every county of the state. With an enrollment of more than 33,000 students, 13,000 full-time employees and 300,000 alumni, MU is a $2.2 billion enterprise and a critical investment for the state and nation.
Growing Search Firm
Buffkin / Baker focuses on identifying leaders for a number of high-growth sectors, including healthcare, higher education, digital media, digital marketing, technology, private club, financial services and non-profit. It serves public, private, venture and private equity-backed companies. Office locations include Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Winston-Salem, Charleston, and Washington, D.C., with affiliate offices in San Francisco and London. Buffkin / Baker formed earlier this year with the merger of the Buffkin Group and Baker and Associates, LLC.
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Chief Marketing Officers
As business becomes more global and complex, and power shifts from producers of goods and services to consumers, the chief marketing officer’s job of planning and coordinating marketing activities has become more challenging, recruiters say. Yet executive search firms are seeing no shortage of assignments for this important C-level position.
In addition, current business landscape demands have increased the contribution from CMOs, according to the latest research report from both Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles. The survey found that CMOs are building strong relationships with the head of product and research & development to prepare the organization for digital disruption.
As CMO Post Evolves, Role of Recruiters Seen As Pivotal
As companies become more global and complex, marketing — and the chief marketing officer position in particular — has taken on an increasingly crucial and strategic role in moving businesses forward. Clearly, the CMO role is in the midst of change.
“We see CMOs moving beyond functional expertise to assume responsibility for driving overall growth within their organizations,” said Sheryl Pattek, VP, CMO executive partner at Forrester. “They are evolving into key strategic partners on the executive team, and know that collaboration with the rest of the C-suite will be instrumental to their success.”
Chief Communications Officers
The chief communications officer, meanwhile, is typically the corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the communications risks and opportunities for an organization, both internally and externally. This executive is usually responsible for communications to a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, media, bloggers, influential members of the business community, the press, the community and the public. The individual may partner with others in the organization to communicate with investors, analysts, customers and company board members. Most organizations will rely on the communications officer to advise and participate in decisions that may impact the ongoing reputation of the firm.
Qualifications for the role typically include communications experience with multiple stakeholder groups. Early experience may include journalism, work in a public relations agency or an MBA-type background in strategy or business development. In many cases, the communications officers will be called upon to assume responsibility for plans and outcomes that are the result of actions by persons throughout the organization.
Most organizations today rely on the chief communications officer to advise and participate in decisions that may impact the ongoing reputation of the firm. According to a recent report by Korn Ferry, 46 percent of chief communications officers report to the CEO, while 14 percent report to a chief administrative officer and 10 percent report to a chief marketing officer. It is its growing proximity to the CEO that has this role gaining in influence.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media