Five Things Millennials Want from a Marketing Career

February 1, 2018

By Elliot Lum

Courtesy of AEF


Last December, the ANA CMO Masters Circle and the ANA's Educational Foundation organized a roundtable hosted by the CMO at Hyatt Hotels, Maryam Banikarim. The roundtable topic focused on how to channel the highest quality of talent into a career in marketing or advertising with key stakeholders like CMOs, agency leaders, academic professors, and millennial marketers (who joined us from Hyatt). The insights on the industry from the millennial viewpoint were particularly important. Some of the key takeaways that came out of that discussion included:

  1. The Importance of Purpose:
    In the press, we hear millennials talk about purpose in their careers. This panel agreed that purpose was an important attribute for them when choosing to work and continuing a career at Hyatt. "I want to know what I am doing to give back to society," one panelist said. "Hyatt allows me to fulfill [that] through its corporate mission."
  2. Opportunities to Learn and Grow:
    The panelists embraced the opportunity to learn different facets of marketing. At Hyatt, they felt they weren't pigeonholed into just doing one kind of job without any light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, there was general consensus that the company provided sufficient fluidity to move around the organization and continue to learn the craft of marketing.
  3. Thinking of Marketing as a Long-Term Career:
    Contrary to the popular belief that millennials job hop with great frequency, many of the Hyatt millennial marketers saw their company as a long-term career path. That time frame wasn't based on the next promotion. It was a three-to-five-year time horizon where they felt like they were learning, contributing, and growing.
  4. Marketing as the Growth Engine of the Company:
    Marketing can be a key driver of company growth. The allure of contributing to how the company is performing in the marketplace is what attracted several of the panelists to their career. They could link their efforts directly to how the company was performing, creating more meaning in what they were doing in their specific roles.
  5. The Disconnect with Academia:
    Many of the panelists felt that the curriculum that was administered at universities didn't reflect the reality of what was happening in their actual roles. There was a feeling that the first company they joined after graduation expected them to hit the ground running when they started, which forced them to prioritize internships more so than their academic work. As one Hyatt marketer said, "We didn't really even know what role digital had in the marketing mix when we were studying in college."

It's not enough for the marketing industry to leave this next generation of leaders to figure out their path forward to executive roles. It's up to our current leadership to outline what the path looks like for millennials by understanding their career expectations and putting them in positions that will help them grow and learn while contributing to the company's benefit. These younger marketers are the future of our industry, and we need to empower them to assume leadership roles that will drive growth in our companies and for our industry.


Elliot Lum is the head of talent strategy and program development at the ANA Educational Foundation.

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