A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed for a Director of Marketing position. The interviewing company is a $150 million manufacturing organization comprised of a half dozen brands, in both the consumer and B to B markets.

During the course of my day at the company, the hiring manager told me that the previous Director of Marketing had left to take a similar position with another company due to preferred location and more money. He also told me that things hadn't worked out for the old DoM at his new employer, and that he was begging to come back, but that he wanted the ability to remain in his new location, working in a satellite office on the West coast, three time zones away from the company's HQ on the East coast.

Last week, I was tendered an offer to join the company, as a Co-Director of Marketing based in their corporate HQ, and through conversation, discovered that the other person they wanted to bring onboard is the previous DoM, who would indeed work remotely.

I am very interested in the Director of Marketing position, assuming it is a single person position. The structure as proposed to me feels a little funky, for a few reasons:

- The old DoM is desperate right now to get out of his current situation, so I suspect he’ll agree to almost anything to get that done. However, once back, I’m concerned that he will try to reclaim his old position, and I’m not terribly interested in stepping into a potential power struggle.

- There is a single set of resources in the marketing department. Having two peers negotiating with one another about how to allocate those resources at any given time seems problematic.

- I’m being told that if I come onboard, the hiring manager has every confidence that in 6 months to a year, I will indeed be running the entire department, which has me wondering what he’s telling the “other” Director of Marketing.

The hiring manager seems open to my opinions about how the responsibilities are divided, but is adamant that they see it as a two-person position. The location is perfect, the money is close, and the direction in which the company is headed is a positive one, but I can’t shake the feeling that the structure they’re proposing isn’t ultimately going to work.

What do you think?



asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Adam

Very odd. However, I cannot see them paying both of you $125k (or whatever the going rate for directors is in your hood) just to make this other DoM happy, only to have him take over.

That being said, you were initially being hired to run the entire department. I doubt the Co-DoM is coming back to be junior to you. It is not out of line for you to ask what the plans are for the Co-DoM and get a clarification.


TomW's picture

I'd also worry about them forcing you out once the former DoM comes back.

The whole thing sounds a little suspicious to me.

Personally, I'd have a resume and a few interviews lined up in case it does not go well.

pmoriarty's picture

Yes, it does seem funky to me.

If I were in your shoes, I would try to get as much clarity on how this "split-role" is going to work, who has what responsibilities, goals, direct reports, etc...

Also, as for the "you'll have the position to yourself in 6-12 months" thing, I'd be wary of what Mark refers to as "The Dangle". That's where you're promised a better position "soon after you're hired". I guess it's not uncommon for the better position to never materialize. :(

Once you get as much clarity as you can from the hiring manager, you should be able to decide if this redefined role is one you are still interested in.

Good luck!

acorn24's picture

Thanks for the feedback.

The hiring manager suggested that I speak with the owner of the company tomorrow to see if we can come to some agreement about a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations for both positions. If he can't make me feel comfortable about the structure, I'll likely decline. I'm already in the mix for a couple of other opportunities anyway, so if this one doesn't feel right, I'm sure something else will work out.

Thanks again,


ashdenver's picture

"Thank you, Mr. Owner, this helps a great deal. I would really appreciate seeing these terms drawn up into an employment contract with an early end-of-employment payout of ____."

Make sure it's worded correctly so that you would receive payout even if they didn't fire you. If they have things setup terribly backwards and the other guy across the country makes your life miserable, there's no reason you should suffer for the "constructive discharge" due to untennable working conditions.

Mark's picture

This is not a good situation and I would never recommend someone accept under these circumstances. Sorry, but it has disaster written all over it.



acorn24's picture

Thanks, Mark.

Your perspective (and that of the others that responded) served to reinforce what my gut was telling me all along. I declined the offer this morning.


acorn24's picture

A new wrinkle...

As I mentioned previously, I declined their offer a few days ago. I did so with the hiring manager; I didn't end up speaking with the owner prior to declining.

Yesterday, the owner called me, and today he and I finally got a chance to speak about the opportunity a little more. He respected my decision to decline, but wanted to see if there was any way that we could come to terms. I explained all of the concerns outlined above, and he agreed that my concerns made perfect sense given the characterization of the two positions as "Co-Directors of Marketing". He asserted that the positions would not, in fact, be set up that way, and that the roles would be significantly different. He also told me that I would be reporting directly to him, focused on bigger picture stuff, while the other individual would be reporting to the hiring manager, focused on more "on the ground" issues. This is new information; I had been led to believe that I would be reporting to the hiring manager, as would the other individual.

I have agreed to continue the conversation, and have asked for the owner to explicitly clarify how he sees the organizational structure and the breakdown of responsibilities before we speak again.

My question is this: given this new information, should I reconsider, or is the consensus still that I should, as Mark said, "run"?



jhack's picture

Do you think the marketing programs will be efficient and effective if there are separate teams in separate reporting structures responsible for execution? What is the business rationale for organizing the marketing function in this way? Will you have direct reports?

Have you discussed this arrangement with the "hiring manager" to close the expectations gap?

Still appears to be a minefield...

acorn24's picture

After further discussion with the owner, I think the "hiring manager" may have done an ineffective job of explaining the position to me.

The owner explained to me that he is looking for someone to focus on strategic corporate marketing initiatives for the entire company, while the former Director of Marketing will be responsible for more tactical marketing for a subset of brands. He would focus on things like retail point-of-purchase displays, trade shows and end-user events, etc, while I would focus on brand identities for the entire company, the direction of global advertising collateral, etc.

The owner is also looking to this position to play an integral role in strategic business development, including mergers and acquisitions. This is an area in which the company has an extremely successful track record, so I am excited by the prospect of learning about this process from someone who knows it well.

I am looking for clarification on this point, but I believe that I would be managing the creative resources for the company, and the former DoM would call upon me to provide the creative support necessary for his responsibilities. As such, the approach to getting the job done seems much less disjointed than I had originally thought.

The more I hear, the more interested I become, but I continue to look to the opinions of objective members of the MT community to help me assess the opportunity.

Thanks again,


pneuhardt's picture

My $.02 worth:

Good companies hire good people and find a way to utilize that person's talents. It sounds to me as if they have recognized that you are someone they want to have working there in some capacity to gain the benefit what you have to offer.

I agree that the "Co-Director" role and description had disaster written all over it. Mark said run. I would have said "run screaming" but he's nicer than I am.

The new role as described does sound far different and could in the long run be better for you as you could be closer to the "heartbeat" of the operation. The only question I would be asking myself is this:

Do they want to hire me because they feel I am such a good person that they want me on the team no matter what the role, or are they guilty that they offered me a position and they don't have the heart to withdraw the offer under the circumstances?

If the answer is 1, I would say give it all the consideration you would if the situation of the returning Director had not existed. Treat it as a new offer and evaluate it as such.

If the answer is 2, return to the "run screaming" advice.

Mark's picture

Still no. That other guy, and the two roles, and his way.



thaGUma's picture

Scary one. The old DoM sounds like a skeleton in the closet. The idea of offering him a title similar to his old role after he left looks like pandering to him. I would worry that he would have influence beyond his position. And if/when he decides he wants to move back I would be jumping ship.

Eyes open. Be careful with wording but state your discomfort. No problems with the ex DoM having an alternate title but not Co-Director.

Are there any better opportunites to look for ? This one is unsettling.


vinnie2k's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Still no. That other guy, and the two roles, and his way.


Interesting. That would have cleared it for me because the roles are very different, and this is the CEO talking to our friend.

Why isn't that enough in your opinion?

Mark's picture

There weren't two roles before... one has been split in two. That means - ALWAYS - that the divider will be gray. But everyone who interacts with both people will still have the old model in their heads, and that old model is attached to an old picture - the other guy. His relationships with key people, his desire to come back...all spell problems.


vinnie2k's picture

I see. That's a good point. Thanks for the insights. I will be interviewing in the coming weeks and I'll be looking for shady position definitions :-)

thaGUma's picture

I think this thread shows some of the pitfalls:

US41's picture

I think I have relevant experience to back up Mark's position (not that Mark needs backing up as his credentials and experience speak for themselves).

Let's say I have a "friend" who has reported to a CEO of a small-sized company (about 300 people) for around a decade. During his time there, he's had that CEO come to him with all sorts of visions of unicorns flying through rainbows and teletubbies singing in Disney movies: a job reporting to the COO that will be "so cool," working with the CFO to "do something that is very visible and will result in promotion, or "take care of this special project for me, and everyone in the company knows I am behind it and will support you.

And every freaking week this guy tells me about another double-cross from the CEO. The CEO, like many CEOs, has sales as his background, and loves to sell his employees a bill of goods while looking through rose tinted lenses, but the reality is usually very ugly, and when it gets ugly, the CEO is out playing golf, on a trip, or not taking calls.

The big job turns out to be practically admin work. The special project it turns out has no one's support, and despite promises, the CEO never holds people accountable to participate and deliver on it.

When I read your original posting about the two-man job, that's what I saw. I saw a guy trying to play both ends against the middle - a pollyanna who thinks he can have his cake and eat it too because when the poop meets the fan blades, he'll choose that moment to delegate and disappear.

If you take the two-man job, I am very sure that you will get in there and find that the CEO thinks the job is X, but the hiring manager is the real guy pulling your strings and the job will turn out to be something altogether different and quite bad for you.

Mark mentioned the previous guy's relationships, the stain he left on the job before he left, and his desire to come back. I agree with that, and I would add on the CEO's inability to make a decision and lead his people with firm grasp of his organization's structure.

Drucker says there are four basic problems of management:


Looks to me like this CEO suffers in all four areas and someone probably appointed him because he was the safest choice, not the strongest.

Run like the wind and never look back!

Mark's picture

For the record, I don't see that other thread as being related enough to draw strong conclusions from...


thaGUma's picture

I think the other thread shows some outcomes when a previous incumbant is still in a position to adversely affect your ability to be effective.
In this thread the owner apprears to be ceeding to the past DoM by giving him a title that directly impacts on acorn24's status. The role of the ex DoM doesn't warrant the same title so why is it being offered?

Alarm bells would be ringing loud in my head - who would get listened too? How long before old DoM acts as if he were still in the old role? Owner/DoM relationship could easily act like the VP in the other thread.