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Published on: 01 January 1970

Why and how CMOs are expanding their sphere of influence within and beyond the firm

Never before has the question of what a sustainable business is and how it can be achieved been more important or urgent. Still, today’s predominant economic system is failing to deliver innovations that maximize sustainable well-being for all, undermining the social and environmental value on which it intrinsically depends. At this point, you might think these are the words of the IRG, but this is Dr Victoria Hurth speaking at our interview. She is a fellow at The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership where she runs a new 8-week executive online course on Sustainable Marketing, Media and Creative. In our conversation, we explored what businesses and marketers need and the challenges participants in both our programs face when trying to deliver sustainability within their organizations.

“Marketers sit at the tension between what kind of value the organization thinks it wants to deliver versus what it sets up to deliver. Organizations are often hamstrung to prioritize financial value for the company or its members. That means that marketers - even if the organization has a good purpose and strong intent to deliver on it - are often confronted with a lack of organizational leadership and the firm’s self-interest that pervades thinking and action”

“However, business is society’s innovation nerve center. Marketers are central to making sure the economy works to do this well – and the opposite has been happening. What’s needed urgently are firms where long-term well-being for all (sustainability) becomes the point of innovation – the prioritized value, delivered with healthy financial flows, happy stakeholders, and, vitally, within healthy social and environmental thresholds. Having this clear, meaningful, and sustainable basis for strategy unlocks marketing creativity and innovation.”

Like us, Victoria is seeing a whole wave of energized marketers come through the course: “These marketers are innovation fire-starters – energized by results that actually matter to them. Hence, they are becoming experts in the whole value network landscape; expanding their sphere of influence within and beyond the firm; active in strategic stakeholder evolution, and overcoming roadblocks that traditionally would have stopped them. "

”It is the spirit of marketing that is changing. This is what gives me hope. When talented creative people move from being hemmed in by a dull profit motive to being unleashed to guide and co-create genuine sustainability, I know we are starting to get somewhere.”

Inspired by Dr Victoria Hurth, contributor to the IRG and Fellow at The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership,

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