Advertising Keith Weed Career

Ask Keith Weed: what is the most progressive way of recruiting top marketing talent?


By Stephen Lepitak | -

June 15, 2020 | 4 min read

Each week, revered marketer and president of the Advertising Association Keith Weed, who will be one of the headliners at The Drum's Can-Do Festival, will take questions from marketers around the world, using his experience to help solve their problems.​


Ask Keith Weed: What is the most progressive way of recruiting top marketing talent?

Syl Saller, chief marketing officer, Diageo: Keith, as you know, we are only as good as our team and talent pipeline is one of the biggest issues facing chief marketers today. What have you found to be the most progressive and effective ways of recruiting top, senior-level talent?

Keith: Syl, I think you’re right in identifying that there is a different challenge in recruiting top senior talent into marketing today. It seems many companies invest in building the capability of younger talent and then, at a certain stage, you are somehow meant to know it all and the training dries up. This means there is a great deal of good quality senior talent in marketing not being developed for the challenges ahead. It’s left to the senior talent to be curious and invest in themselves with ongoing learning to refresh their skills and capabilities for the new marketing world. In my view, this is wrong and needs to change.

The pace of change has been so fast that much of the homegrown talent in an organization does not have the right specialism for the challenges ahead. 80% of my direct reports were from outside the organization at one stage in my previous chief marketing officer role. Recruiting them was not easy. The first thing you need to do is to identify the individuals. The second thing is then to set out a program to engage with them emotionally and intellectually. This will take time which can also result in there being a gap in your organization as you attempt to recruit the right person.

I was once told you’re better to have a hole in your organization than an arsehole! It was useful advice, so keep the space until you find the right person.

What this means though is a chief marketing officer has to be more externally orientated, connecting with people across the extended industry to identify talent in different areas. Then, of course, all the due diligence with head-hunters and references is still needed. But I would not rely purely on head-hunters alone to bring you the senior people you need.

Weed will be one of a number of high-profile speakers at The Drum's Can-Do Festival, which is now underway. Details on the event can be found here.

If you want to ask Keith Weed a marketing question to consider in a future installment, email

Advertising Keith Weed Career

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