Upskilling for marketers: Future-proofing talent

Jan 03, 2024
Professional Development Talent

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." This popular quote from Lewis Carroll's classic children's tale, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t just stop there. It goes on with Alice adding an explanation “so long as I get somewhere,". And the cat replies, "Oh, you're sure to do that, if you only walk long enough."

Alice’s story is the story of every marketer who takes the long walk to “somewhere”. For some, this destination is as precise as the location entered on the GPS, for others, it is vague and uncharted. Either way, to reach “somewhere” in today's rapidly evolving marketing landscape, the need to adapt and grow skillsets is undeniable.

Whether you're an employer overseeing a marketing team or an employee, the CMA is committed to upskilling through its various events, training workshops, online certificate courses, perspectives from experts, and the Chartered Marketer (CM) designation.

The benefits of upskilling

Upskilling reflects the increasing importance placed on continuous learning and skill development, particularly in the face of rapid and disruptive technological change. The term has more recently expanded to include not only the employer’s obligation for talent development but for the marketer taking a personal and proactive approach to self-development.

Employer perspective: Nurturing talent and future-proofing the business

  • Staying competitive: Upskilling by employees makes businesses leverage new knowledge, tools, techniques, and strategies to boost their marketing effectiveness and create a valued differentiation.
  • Talent retention: The modern employee values professional development. Organizations that prioritize learning foster loyalty and reduce the costs and disruptions caused by high turnover. Supporting career growth through professional development can give employers a significant advantage in the Canadian job market.
  • Operational efficiency: An upskilled team is more adept at leveraging the latest digital tools, optimizing campaigns, and maximizing ROI. The initial investment in training is often dwarfed by the long-term gains in productivity and marketing effectiveness.

Employee perspective: Securing future and expanding horizons

  • Enhanced job security: The world of marketing is ever evolving. What's in demand today might be obsolete tomorrow. By continuously learning, employees ensure that they remain relevant. In an industry as dynamic as marketing, the ability to adapt is often directly correlated with job security.
  • Career advancement: Upskilling opens doors to new skills and networking. Whether it's adopting a new skill through certifications, or executive programs at universities, every new skill added to one's repertoire increases the opportunities for career growth.
  • Job satisfaction and personal growth: There's a profound sense of satisfaction in learning a new skill. It's not just about being more effective at one's job; it's about personal growth. Upskilling allows marketers to break routine, take on challenging projects, diversify their roles, and enjoy a more enriching professional life.

Career stage

Upskilling objective

Ideas for upskilling

Educational years

  • Gain education
  • Gain networks
  • Supplement current education
  • University and college courses

Internship, related summer job

  • Online learning
  • Networking

Resource: CMA NXT

Entry level:

  • Up-to-date with marketing ethics and excellence. If not – supplement or move.
  • Tour through as many different roles as possible at agency, in-house and vendor organizations
  • Volunteer at not-for-profits, in the community
  • Network with professionals inside and outside the organization and be curious
  • Start to discover what it takes to move to a manager role and educate if that is the preferred career direction

Resource: CMA NXT

Senior Manager

  • Strategic planning and approach
  • Process management
  • Performance management: taking the management of a high-performance team into account
  • Change management
  • Managing power, influence,  and negotiation
  • Part-time executive programs in universities and colleges
  • Peer mentoring
  • Network inside and outside the organization
  • Take continued education courses such as digital marketing management, negotiation courses, or project management courses
  • Work towards a leadership essentials certificate from Canadian universities

CMA Chartered Marketer (CM)


  • Stay relevant to methods, people, political and economic forces, vision, values and strategies
  • Lead with effectiveness
  • Develop consulting skills and diversify skill set
  • Stay in touch with peers
  • Stay in constant communication with supervisor
  • Stay relevant
  • Keep up to date with organization vision, values and financial health
  • Teach and mentor
  • CM Designation



  • Drive profitable, sustainable and responsible business while balancing people, processes, technology and politics
  • Experience discomfort
  • Take risks and shake status quo
  • Expand profile
  • Give back to the community
  • Mentor and teach
  • Executive programs in universities in change management, leadership, ethics, and sustainability
  • Join Board of Directors and volunteer in the community
  • CM Designation


The key to future career success is a commitment to ongoing learning and development. By embracing a growth mindset and staying proactive and adaptable, professionals and leaders alike can thrive in their careers and stay competitive in today’s fast-changing job market.

The CMA has long championed the importance of staying ahead of the curve. As the nexus of change and innovation, marketing professionals, more than any other, need to be at the top of their game. Employers stand to benefit from an agile, knowledgeable team that can navigate the intricacies of modern marketing landscapes. At the same time, employees find more value in their roles, enjoying better job security, increased opportunities, and a greater sense of achievement.

Raunica Ahluwalia, Professor, Seneca College
Simone Hughes,  Fractional CMO/CCO/CBDO




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