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How to hire a journey manager

15th Aug 2019
Journey manager

What are the key skills, and what kind of background should a journey manager have? 

Recently, MyCustomer has been exploring the emerging role of the journey manager. In the first article in the series, we examined the key responsibilities that characterise journey managers, as well as the reason why a growing number of organisations are appointing them.

In second article, we studied research data to find out the industries and countries that are pioneering journey manager recruitment, and outlined the factors that determine whether or not your organisation should also consider appointing a journey manager.

In this final part of the series, we’re going to share tips on hiring journey managers – what the attributes you should be looking for in a successful applicant, and what background they should ideally have.

Helping us lift the lid on this is Kerry Bodine, CEO at CX consultants Bodine & Co. Kerry has been tracking the emergence of this role for some time, and last year conducted global research into journey managers. With her help we can identify common skills and experience from today’s journey managers, that can provide some guidance for those recruiting for the role for the first time.

What the research revealed

Over two-thirds of the journey managers identified by the Bodine & Co research had been in their current roles for less than two years, demonstrating how nascent the position is at present. Unsurprisingly, then, if you’re looking to recruit a journey manager, the chances are you’re unlikely to be able to hire someone with previous journey manager experience. Indeed, the research found that only 18% of journey managers reported having previously been in a journey manager role.

With that in mind, recruiters will therefore be more inclined to identify successful candidates via their background and/or education. No great surprises were found when exploring the education history of today’s journey managers, however. Nearly three-quarters (72%) held a bachelor’s degree, and just over a quarter (26%) held a master’s degree. The most common focus of both tended to be the likes of business, marketing, communications, media and economics.

Bodine notes: “It’s an education typical of customer experience roles - business, marketing, economics, communications, finance, psychology, sociology and so on. It’s your basic training that pretty much anyone would get before they enter the business world.”

Despite the practitioners’ lack of prior journey manager experience, the vast majority of them were far from fresh into the working world. A mere 2% of the journey managers studied had under two years of overall work experience, with over two-thirds (68%) having between five and 15 years of professional experience in the locker.

One very interesting finding, however, that should certainly be taken into account by potential recruiters, is that the majority of journey managers were internal hires. 57% of the journey managers studied held previous roles in their current organisations before taking on the mantle of journey manager. Of these, over a quarter had been with their companies for ten years or longer.

“This makes sense,” says Bodine. “The people in these roles need to be influencers. They are not necessarily executives, but they need to be able to herd all the cats in the organisation. And somebody with 5-15 years’ experience is unlikely to be really senior level, but they are certainly not a newbie – so they are still willing to do some heavy lifting for the company, and they can leverage all the relationships that they’ve built in the time that they’ve been there.”

Of the journey managers identified, nearly three-quarters (73%) were full-time positions. However, that does leave over a quarter (27%) having to juggle the role of journey manager alongside their other day-to-day responsibilities, which included jobs such as sales, marketing, software development and quality assurance.

The people in these roles need to be influencers. They are not necessarily executives, but they need to be able to herd all the cats in the organisation

Bodine believes that journey management could be viewed as less of a priority until more organisations dedicate full-time resources to the discipline.

“This is essentially what we saw in the customer experience world 15 years ago, where it starts off as a side job,” she notes. “Back then, companies would task one of the marketing team with, for instance, running customer surveys on the side as part of their job. These days there are entire teams at these companies that are focused on customer insight.

“The fact that a quarter of journey manager roles have got concurrent roles tells me that this is a nascent discipline and a nascent role, and I’m sure that as the field of journey management matures, more organisations will realise that is not just something that you can tack onto your day job. So I will be interested to see how this develops and how many journey managers have still got concurrent roles when we conduct the next piece of research.”

Of those with concurrent roles, Bodine was surprised that so few were also responsible for product management, given the transferrable skills of the two positions. Overall, only 5% of those with concurrent roles were also product managers.

“My blueprint for thinking about the journey manager role is product management,” she explains. “Essentially you’re doing the same thing – you’re setting a vision, making a business case, rallying different people from across the organisation who don’t report to you to make something actually happen, and you’re measuring the results of that. That is product management at a super high level, and it is what I think are also the essential duties of a journey manager. Though of course journey management has the added bonus that while product managers are siloed, journey managers - just by the nature of what the journey is - are not.”

So how do these findings translate into insight that organisations can use to successfully hire a journey manager? Here are a few takeaways for your organisation to consider:

  • Professionals with past journey manager experience are as rare as hen’s teeth, so instead seek applicants with transferrable skills.
  • Bodine & Co recommend recruiters focus on candidates who have demonstrated an ability to articulate a future vision, are detailed planners and have the people skills to unite and influence stakeholders from across the organisation.
  • Applicants with prior experience in product management have all of these qualities and therefore could make a good candidate.
  • Applicants don’t necessarily require advanced education. Most journey managers identified in the study had a bachelor’s degree accompanied by 5-15 years’ professional experience.
  • Recruiters should consider hiring someone from within the organisation, as these professionals will have already developed relationships and networks across the business that they can leverage in their role as journey manager.

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