It isn’t clear how many companies currently have the position, but there has been a steady trickle. A search on LinkedIn of the title generated more than 2,000 results, while a search on a couple of national job sites showed no available positions; but some, such as SVP of Communications, were written as reporting directly to the CGO.
What’s driving the new title and what does it mean? CEOs and business owners in general are faced with a tougher revenue-generation environment than during other economic recoveries, as capital and psychological constraints rein in companies as well as consumers, so they’ve got to try new ideas for increasing the bottom line.
Another factor is that the democratization of digital media—across business verticals as well as up and down company hierarchies—tends to create opportunities for growth that might go unseen in the day-to-day routine of growing the business. Dozens of major brands, in fact, have created initiatives to fund and borrow ideas from digital-technology startups.
The reasoning and approach taken by, for example, Mondelez International CEO Irene Rosenfeld, is typical of why big companies are creating the position these days. A confectionary, food and beverage company, Mondelez was spun off from Kraft Foods a couple of years ago with an investor mission to maximize revenue growth and profitability for the predecessor company’s fastest-growing and most profitable business lines, mostly snack brands including Oreo and Cadbury. So growth is its raison d’etre.
“The creation of the chief growth officer role ensures that growth remains at the forefront of our company strategy,” Rosenfeld said in a statement about the promotion of 18-year company veteran Mark Clouse to the role. “It will bring the same focus and discipline to driving sustained, profitable growth that we have brought to improving our cost structure and expanding margins.”