As an experienced HR director, I have worked – often in a consultancy capacity – within complex environments, from investment banking through to dotcom start-ups. Since being made redundant, I have been consulting independently for a range of clients. Some see me as a consultant, while others see me as an interim manager. Is the difference merely in the name, or is there a fundamental career difference that I should be aware of?
Your present career situation is not unique. The ambiguity of the ‘interim management versus consultancy’ debate is also not uncommon, although thankfully, the distinction has recently become clearer. There has also been a tendency to classify all temporary and contract assignments as interim, which has spread across managerial/executive positions as well as junior, more technical assignments.
The difference between interim management and management consultancy is as much about style as it is about content. Analysis and ideas provide the framework of a consultantÍs role. And while both interims and consultants offer clients an independent outsider’s perspective, an interim manager looks after both management and, more crucially, the implementation of key tactical decisions.
Companies often require an interim because there is an element of change management, business acceleration and crisis management. A typical assignment could revolve around people performance issues, process performance issues or organisational performance issues. It is often senior consultants who win business and pass it on to junior consultants to deliver, whereas interim managers take the assignment from cradle to grave, so creating a legacy.
It is standard practice for interim managers to set themselves up as a limited company, while also becoming part of the senior management team or board for a defined period. This is in stark contrast to consultants, who are managed by their consulting firm.
The Interim Managers Association (IMA) runs a one-day workshop for people who are new to interim management, which provides a useful source of information on the industry. For more information, visit the IMA’s website at www.interimmanagement.uk.com.
Alex Raubitschek, managing director, Ortus