The Growing Bench of CMO Free Agents, with Nirosha Methananda


We’re gonna need a bigger bench. The list of available SaaS CMOs is growing, with many finding themselves free agents for the first time — involuntarily. In this episode, Lindsey connects with Nirosha Methananda, a senior marketing leader on the bench, about what she’s learned during her transition period.

From digging into learning and community to investing in an executive coach (bye-bye ego!) and her personal brand, Nirosha is far from wallowing in her circumstances. She rounds out the episode by providing her take on the future of full-time work and where she sees the CMO market heading.

Invest in your brand

When your organization’s daily task list bogs you down, it’s easy to lose sight of critical self-improvement goals. Nirosha encourages marketers on the bench to consider learning initiatives like self-guided courses during their time between roles.

And once you’ve locked in on personal growth goals, consider advertising your insights to the industry. After all, marketers know that brand is crucial — so why shirk personal brand?

“You don’t have to be at [the CMO level] to start. I see a lot of up-and-coming marketers really having a voice, leaning in, sharing and advocating for themselves,” said Nirosha. “I really love seeing that, and I think a lot more people would benefit from being able to do that.”

Leave your ego at the door

After leaving a company — especially involuntarily — it’s easy to fall into the trap of assessing what could’ve been. While self-reflection is a valuable pastime, Nirosha suggests that marketers on the bench avoid attributing a layoff to their professional abilities.

“Stop and recognize it’s your ego [being hurt] as well… That’s the key to being able to bounce back,” said Nirosha. “Are you feeling [hurt] because of some rational thing? Or is it because it’s something in [your head] that you are creating for yourself? You know, ‘I’m not worth this,’ or ‘They think this about me,’ or whatever it is.”

We all know layoffs are a difficult part of organizational restructuring. Impacted individuals are no less capable than their colleagues. Accepting this fact and moving forward with your experience is the best way to make the most of a difficult situation, according to Nirosha.

Additionally, consider speaking with an executive coach during your transition period. Coaches provide potent insights into how to lead during tough times — and they may help check your ego, too.

Prepare to go with the flow

If the current Tech landscape has taught marketers anything, it’s that nothing is forever. Over the past year, the value of cryptocurrency has crashed, generative AI valuations have skyrocketed and top marketing leaders have been slapped with the dreaded 15-minute meeting.

“You have so many people who have been in roles for… 15, 20 years… and then they’re gone,” said Nirosha.

For many, layoffs have included poor severance packages and minimal departure offerings. “All these companies purport [that] people are [their greatest] asset and so on and so forth. But when you treat people like that, it’s clear they’re not your asset #1,” said Nirosha.

In response to layoffs, many marketing leaders have opted for consulting work. These part-time opportunities allow marketers to devote excess time to their passion projects or other advisory roles without becoming tied to any company’s overall mission.

Although Nirosha doesn’t foresee this trend continuing indefinitely, she does expect volatile markets to necessitate part-time roles, at least until the economy settles. In the interim, it’s wise for former CMOs to strap in and ride the wave.

For more of Nirosha’s insights, listen to Episode 349 of SaaS Half Full.

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