CMOs are seemingly in a constant state of flux: As recruiting firms like Spencer Stuart and Russell Reynolds track, there is frequent turnover in the post at companies. CMO tenure currently hovers at around 44 months, according to Spencer Stuart. Accomplished marketing leaders regularly make headlines moving to new companies. Just this quarter alone, according to Russell Reynolds, CMOs like Carla Hassan and Don Lane have assumed new roles at Citi and Saucony, respectively, and there have been several others.
But the movement, the transition, builds CMOs’ expertise and experience such that they bring the best and most innovative perspective and strengths to bear. It also is happening at a time when the CMO role itself continues to evolve in new and complex ways, and new people with diverse educational and career backgrounds are assuming the top post–redefining the role as they live it.
The latest case of this and a unique study in that transition is Dara Treseder. Announced today, Treseder, an alumna of Apple and most recently CMO of GE Ventures and GE Business Innovations, is joining 3D printing company Carbon as CMO. A Millennial herself—she’s 30—Treseder is the young company’s first-ever CMO, charged with building the brand as the company moves to its next stage of development. In fact, the goal is to establish Carbon as a sort of ingredient brand that increasingly becomes the preferred choice of discriminating consumers—those, particularly younger consumers, who care about the impact the manufacturing of their products has on the environment.
Dara Treseder, CMO of Carbon.Wells Narrative Group.
Treseder, named to the inaugural Forbes CMO Next list in September—one of the 50 marketing chiefs who are, indeed, redefining the role and shaping the future—was leading marketing at GE Ventures, a division of GE based in Silicon Valley, for a year and a half; in that role, she had provided marketing advice to a portfolio of 100-plus GE-invested companies, such as startup AiRXOS managing manned and unmanned air traffic. She also was CMO for GE Business Innovations, licensing GE technology to develop partner businesses. Prior to that she spent three years at Apple leading marketing strategy for FileMaker and the iPhone.
Carbon, a manufacturing company founded in 2014 that just starting selling its products—such as the 3D-printed Adidas AlphaEdge 4D running shoe—two years ago, is bringing Treseder in to help scale their global marketing efforts. She will oversee communications, public affairs, product marketing, demand generation, digital marketing, social media—the full repertoire of CMO responsibilities. “My initial focus is really to help them establish themselves as this category leader,” Treseder said. “They’re creating this new category.”
Based in Redwood City, Calif., Carbon is primarily a B-to-B company, but building awareness and gaining trust among consumers will be crucial to success moving forward. “We need to make them aware that products made by Carbon are better,” Treseder said, adding that she’ll lead the company’s efforts in “building awareness and education around what Carbon is and can do, using proprietary technology to make products better, faster, more economical and more sustainable.”
Beyond partnering with Adidas to create the AlphaEdge 4D, which won an award at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Carbon has partnerships with Johnson & Johnson for surgical products and Vitamix to produce a core part in their blender. The company has also worked with automotive manufacturers and has a large presence in the dental industry.
In its quest to be an ingredient brand, Carbon aims to be “a strong brand on our own but be an ingredient brand to help our partners be better and disrupt,” Treseder said. “We are better for consumers, better for businesses, better for the environment.”
Treseder, who recently spoke at the 14th-Annual Forbes CMO Summit, will report directly to Carbon CEO Joseph De Simone. “They see that marketing is going to be a critical part of helping this company be successful,” Treseder said. “Marketing is not an order-taking group. Marketing has a real seat at the table.” In fact, the C-suite consists of the CEO, the CFO and Treseder. “This is an important role, and I’m going to have an important seat at the table, talking about our business model, our category, to really create value and drive growth.” The CMO, she said, has to be able “to unlock potential for a company.”
And how does Treseder regard herself as a female marketing leader squarely established in the STEM space? “I’m a tech enthusiast, an innovator at heart,” she said. “Being in this STEM-focused space is a passion for me, because I think it’s really important. And I think it’s important for marketing to be strong, not just in the consumer space, but in the STEM, hard-tech space. And I’m excited to really drive that in this role,” she said. “Joe is a leader when it comes to promoting diversity,” she added. “He has really promoted advancing women in these fields. He wanted to hire the best candidate. I was hired because I was the best person for the job. It’s good to have a woman in this type of role.”
As is consistent among the 50 CMOs named to the Forbes CMO Next list this year, Treseder has a palpable passion for the customer, something she said she gained and also furthered at Apple. “One of the things I loved about Apple was the obsession with the customer. The focus on customer, putting our customer first. That was something I was passionate and drove when I was there. It’s part of the DNA of Carbon, and I look forward to bringing that to the forefront of everything we do.”
And from her time at GE, she brings an understanding of what it takes to go big. “One thing GE is really great at is scale. So I’m excited–I know what going from good to great looks like at scale.”