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What Does a Chief Growth Officer Do?

By Chinue Ellis

Last updated: Feb 21, 2023

What is a Chief Growth Officer? What are they supposed to do and why do so many organizations benefit from having one? Come find out.

What Does a Chief Growth Officer Do?

In an organization, every member of the C-suite plays the important role of leading various business units and using strategic decision-making skills to ensure that the company is on track to achieve its business goals. And although it is less common than some of the other job titles in the C-level, the chief growth officer is no different in this regard.

Over the past decade, the title “chief growth officer” (CGO) has steadily risen in popularity as more and more organizations recognize the need for a growth focused leader. In 2017, Forrester predicted that the chief growth officer would replace the role of the chief marketing officer and by 2018, many large enterprises including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and Lyft had done just that. But what is the reason for this seemingly collective shift in organizational priorities?

In this guide we will walk you through what a chief growth officer is, what they do and why they do it, so that you can determine whether your organization might benefit from having a growth driver on its team.

What is a chief growth officer?

Reporting directly to the CEO, the chief growth officer is a senior-level executive responsible for managing the growth of an organization. That growth can either be measured in revenue, users/buyers or other internal KPIs, depending on the company and its needs. Regardless, the CGO is held accountable for establishing long-term and short-term strategic growth initiatives which are used to help their business stay ahead of customer needs and industry competitors.

In addition, the chief growth officer is responsible for overseeing and fostering alignment between multiple departments, including but not limited to: marketing, business development, sales, operations and information technology.

Why are chief growth officers used?

With organizations already having so many business functions dedicated to driving growth, it's understandable to wonder what purpose the chief growth officer serves and how it differs from other leadership functions.

According to Forbes, the rise of digital technology is the reason behind the CGO’s emergence in the corporate hierarchy. Although technology has enabled businesses to better target their buyers by analyzing customer behavior, it has also led to a highly competitive and oversaturated market in which it is far more difficult for organizations to drive revenue and business growth. While businesses used to be able to rely on advertising and sales alone to yield profit, they are now challenged with the task of finding new ways to attract and retain their users to achieve long-term success.

Enter the chief growth officer. The CGO is a hybrid role that bridges the gap between product, marketing and sales to provide further insight into customer needs, buyer behaviors, external market dynamics and additional growth strategies beyond advertising. They foster internal alignment across various departmental silos so that the organization can increase customer centricity and subsequently drive business growth.

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While the CGO is often thought of as an extension of or a replacement to the chief marketing officer (CMO), the scope of the role goes far beyond that. In 2014, food and beverage conglomerate Mondelez International made the decision to switch from having a CMO to hiring a CGO. In Mondelez’s public statement, the company described the role of the chief growth officer as being “accountable for all of the key areas of the company's growth strategy, {including} corporate strategy, global categories, global marketing, global sales, and research, development and quality. This integrated approach will enable the company to more efficiently allocate resources to accelerate expansion {and} ensure that growth remains at the forefront of our company strategy.”

Another role that the CGO is often compared to is the chief revenue officer. While both positions are centered around scaling the business, chief revenue officers are solely responsible for revenue generation while chief growth officers measure organizational growth through various media. However, most organizations will either opt for one or the other of these positions.

What are the responsibilities of a Chief Growth Officer?

The chief growth officer shares many of the same attributes and functions as some of its fellow C-suite colleagues, but there are still many duties that are unique to this role. Here are a few of the most common responsibilities of a chief growth officer:

  • Create new pathways to growth by optimizing trends and data.
  • Eliminate departmental silos across revenue, technology, marketing and finance so that teams are able to work cross-functionally and share key insights that will drive growth.
  • Develop a customer-centric strategy that keeps buyers satisfied, gives the business a competitive advantage, and streamlines the purchase cycle.
  • Provide cross-department insights to the CEO and C-level executives around the company strategy, market trends and its overall growth trajectory.
  • Monitor company budgets and strategically allocate resources to teams in a way that moves the business closer towards its growth goals.
  • Take a data driven and digital-first approach to achieving business revenue and profit objectives.
  • Create an integrated, long-term growth plan.

Does every organization need a CGO?

Although there are many benefits that come with adding a chief growth officer to your team, it is not a necessary hire for every business. Similar to other newer additions to the C-suite, such as the “chief diversity officer” or the “chief future of work officer,” the CGO is a reflection of a business' main priorities and focal points. While some organizations in fast-growing markets can especially benefit from a technically-savvy growth leader, others businesses that are in less saturated industries may not be as concerned with competition.

Additionally, if an organization already distributes much of the chief growth officer’s responsibilities amongst their current leadership team then the CGO would not be needed. On the other hand, having one leader that is able to spearhead marketing, revenue, product and data teams to achieve business growth will be more efficient and economical than having to employ three or four department leaders.

Looking ahead, there is no telling whether the chief growth officer will eventually replace the chief marketing officer position or not. But for now, any growing business that is looking to rapidly scale and dominate its market would do well with a customer-centric and data-focused CGO on its side.

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