As a former marketer turned media boss, Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein has some experience of using the skills of the digital marketer to rise to the top.
But he doesn't think he's a special case. At TheMediaBriefing's Media Marketing Strategies conference in London today laid Friedlein laid out three characteristics of the modern media industry that mean all marketers are in an ideal position to become the leaders of modern media companies.
Friedlein refers to a Harvard Business School study from the late 90s which describes how modern economies have moved from trading commodities, through stages based on the trade of goods and then services, and are now entering an era in which economic progress is based around delivering experiences.
When it comes to delivering customer experiences, the ability to understand consumers tha obsesses most marketers is more important than managing a distribution channel or motivating your staff.
"Customer-centricity has become somewhat more than management vapour speak," he told the conference.
"Arguably someone like Apple is selling experience as much as phones...understanding experiences is the future of business. If this is the case, then surely this is a golden era for marketers."
Friedlein adds that the ability to understand customers also requires an ability to understand the technology through which you interacting with them: "Tech savvy marketers will be the future."
2. Vision-led change.
Friedlein says media businesses have been taking the wrong approach to the internet, which offers the opportunity to reduce costs, produce more content, more quickly and reach billions of people.
"You'd think you'd be excited," he says "But no, for more than a decade media businesses have been whinging and moaning that the world somehow owes them a profitable business."
In contrast, Friedlein claims "digital marketing people like disruptive change" and are embracing the ability to reach more people in new ways. That enthusiasm links in to his third point...
Friedlein says marketers naturally place greater emphasis on growth over other traditional leadership strengths such as cost management.
"Once that pain [of digital transition] has been got through people say: 'but how are we going to grow'?" says Friedlein.
"Growth is marketing people's natural domain. As media businesses, and other businesses want to change want to grow, why shouldn't it be marketing people who lead it?"
Further skills and collaboration
Despite his faith in marketing skills as the foundation of good business leaders, Friedlein says marketers still need management experience to make their way up the ladder.
"It's unrealistic to expect someone to get to CEO just by marketing. They need some experience in management and some experience of profit and loss."
He also says they aren't likely to take over on their own: "The nexus of power lies between the CMO and CIO or CTO.
"Working well with the department formally known as IT, that's the key. It's all very well having the vision, but delivering it is going to rely on technology."