How I made it: Joshua Maxey, CMO at Third Bridge

How I made it featuring Joshua Maxey, CMO at Third Bridge

Hanson Search steps inside the world of Third Bridge to interview CMO Joshua Maxey for our inspiring career series.

Joshua talks to us about his journey to CMO, the importance of embracing technology, and the qualities it takes to be a great leader today.

How did you get into the marketing industry?

I sort of stumbled into it. I was always interested in marketing, even at University, where I studied engineering, I would go out and buy marketing books. Then when we started this business twelve years ago I was building up our sales function and took it to 100 people, but I see what we did largely as sales and marketing.

I think the term marketing is misunderstood these days – the boundaries between sales and marketing should not even exist.

Who inspires you?

I find it hard to just come up with one name because I admire so many people on different levels – be that artistic, political, or in business. Some people perfect one skill, some you admire because of the way they handle a multitude of skills. My mother inspired me the most, either directly or indirectly.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome?

In a professional context, I would say once when I decided to reinvent myself after studying engineering for 8 years and then wanted to pursue a career in finance. The second one was when we started this business. We had some tough times, like launching straight into the eye of the GFC in 2008.

What career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Get yourself good sponsors that you can trust, work hard and smart, and keep a constant eye out on your personal brand. Your network is your biggest asset, but you must keep it high quality and weed out the time-wasters early.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry?

The impact of technology and advances in strategic content marketing. When you look at the growth of marketing technology companies over the past ten years it’s phenomenal. In 2011 we had 150 compared to 1000 in 2018. All that in only seven years!

What does it take to be successful in 2019?

I know it may sound contrived, but there is a lot of geopolitical noise this year with Brexit, Trump, China trade, European slowdown, and next year’s potential recession. That can have a destabilising effect on people. Keeping a relentless focus on what is in your control and what isn’t is super important. At the same time, you always want to do contingency planning, but you can’t let noise distract you.

How can businesses improve diversity in the workplace?

It absolutely needs to come from the top – we spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think the biggest problem companies face is when middle-level management care more about it than the top-level. We are lucky not to have this problem, but I have seen many companies have it.

What qualities does it takes to be a leader in today’s marketing industry?

You must be all over technology and embracing it to scale yourself as well as the business. If you don’t, you will fall behind quickly. You also need to attract good talent – for example, finding people who can write well and in line with your tone of voice is actually really hard.

What is the key to growth of a successful team and a positive working environment?

If you listen to what the experts tell you, there has been a fundamental shift from the baby boomers to millennials, and now gen-z. It’s true that physical location has become less significant and more and more people want to run a “side hustle”. That said, the key to me is still fundamentally the same as always – employees want to see personal growth (it’s coded into our DNA!) and be treated with respect. It’s amazing how many firms don’t understand this basic concept.

What is the biggest challenge that the industry will face over the next few years?

I still see a lot of people in the industry that come from traditional marketing backgrounds with relatively little understanding of technology. There are still too many boundaries between technology roles and marketing roles. Just do a search for marketing technology specialists and you will see how relatively few there are.

Name one technology that you could not live without.

I’m a total gadget freak, so it’s hard to say just one. I would argue that my laptop is higher ranked than my phone, which is why I always travel with at least two laptops.


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Author: Mark Burrett

Associate Director of the Marketing practice at Hanson Search. With 10 years of combined experience across sales, marketing and recruitment, Mark brings real industry insights into the hiring process and of the skills required to be successful.

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