A day in the life of Mike Sanderson

day begins early. I tend to work long hours – usually from about 8am to 8pm. As
with many of my assignments, I am based away from home, so during the week I
live out of a suitcase.

present assignment is acting projects director for rail operator GNER where I
have pulled together a projects team. This group of people, selected from
across all areas of the business, is charged with delivering the buildings,
construction and train fleet development work as part of the franchise
agreement. Although I am acting in a consultancy capacity, I am attending the
board meetings.

background is engineering. I have a degree in mechanical engineering, an MSc in
marketing and an MBA from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, where I
majored with distinction in multinational planning. I am also a fluent French
speaker and writer, recently acting as deputy programme director for
Thomson-CSF in Thales, Paris for the New Athens International Airport – a most
challenging multi-cultural project. I was also head of projects for Eurotunnel,
another Franco-British project.

got into management consultancy and interim management in 1991. After being
involved in the fourth company turnaround as managing director since I had come
back from the US in 1980, I decided to set up my own consultancy – Strategic
Management – with an HR specialist and lawyer, with the idea of becoming
involved with business turnarounds. Aside from one small project, most of the
work has been interim and advice work.

an engineer with considerable marketing and business planning experience, I
view myself as a business consultant who implements. This means I get involved
in projects where I am asked to look at the organisation, regroup various teams
and spearhead the actual implementation of that reorganisation and achieve
results in a short time.

have been on my current assignment for five months, and it will certainly
continue for another month and a half, and possibly another three or four. The
objective is to find a permanent replacement, because this is a job that didn’t
exist before. This is often the case with the work I do – I don’t come in to
replace anybody but to create something new and develop a new approach or a new

example, a few years ago, I was projects director in a joint venture
partnership between Lucas aerospace and the Indonesian government. I created a
business plan in conjunction with Lucas directors and their Indonesian business
partners. After a period of negotiation and legal agreement, I acted as the
first general manager of the company for three months to start up the company.

challenging and absorbing the project, I am never interested in staying on for
a longer time. Essentially I am a consultant who gets involved in the
implementation of advice and the creation of that process, and once I get
things started I want to move on to other things.

organisation is different, but there are common threads, and that is often the
people. There tend to be certain behavioural patterns. Some people are cooperative
and some are not. Some are willing to see change and some are not. This means
the essential qualities for an interim are to be confident and extremely

a contract is due to finish, I  get
ready for the next post. I like to work all the time, aside from holidays. Some
people are quite happy to work three months here or there, but I don’t need
that kind of lifestyle. I don’t normally like to have a break between
assignments of more than a few weeks, if possible, or more than say a month.
And even when I am waiting for an assignment, I am always extremely active in
marketing myself, and my firm, to other people.

have a database of clients, of prospective client companies and of the interim
agencies. I also have a database of banks, management consulting firms,
accountants and venture capital firms. Periodically (usually between three and
six months) I do a mail shot  of an
update of my client list and the projects I have undertaken. In this way I can
keep people informed of where I am and what I am doing and find out what
opportunities they have available.

is satisfying about consultancy and interim management is the ability to come
into a company, hit the ground running (as you are expected as an interim),
start to move things along, design new structures, rearrange and organise –
and, of course, get a result.

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