Ten out of ten for interims

Making a difference

Bernadette Marjoram is committed to interim management in local government. She has worked as acting chief executive and is currently part of a corporate change team at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets council. “I enjoy the opportunity it gives to build organisational capacity and capability, and therefore sustain long-term change within organisations,” she says. “It is important to build a legacy that is there long after you leave. This gives me great personal and professional satisfaction.”

Moving up the career ladder

Interim management can be used to enhance your career prospects if you aim to go back into full-time employment after a spell on the interim circuit. This tends to happen more at the high-flier end of the market, says Raj Tulsiani, managing director of Penna Interim Executive. “They may be people who are at divisional director level and want to move up to the next level,” he says. “So we will seek positions that allow them to gain the experience they need.”

Working for yourself

Interims are self-employed and many operate as small businesses. “People get a sense of achievement out of working for themselves,” says Graham Bird, director of interim and strategic resourcing at HR consultancy Chiumento. “There is a direct correlation between what you put in and what you get out. You are rewarded directly according to your skills and experience.”

Gaining independence

Unlike consultants, interims must become part of the company, but can retain a degree of independence. This means they can focus on the task at hand rather than getting bogged down by office politics. Pauline Jas is author of the report, Role of Interim Management in Local Authorities Recovering from Poor Performance, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. She interviewed several interim managers during her research. While they enjoyed their assignments, some said working for some organisations reinforced why they had decided to become interim managers. She recalls that one said, “It reminded me of why I loved being a director, but also why I do not want to do it permanently any more.”

Challenge and variety

Bob Harper became an interim manager five years ago after being made redundant by a utility company. He has worked as an interim across all sectors in a variety of project-based and operational HR roles. “I felt interim would offer me more variety, and it has lived up to my expectations. Every role has been different – different markets and different aspects of HR, and I still feel there are a lot of challenges out there.” So would he go back to full-time work? “No, because I also wanted to do something that would give me more independence and the freedom to manage my own time.”

Achieving a better work-life balance

Interims are their own bosses so they are no longer shackled to working 12 months a year. While too long a gap between assignments may not be a good thing, if it is planned it can give you the freedom to do other things. Bernadette Marjoram’s passion is for scuba diving. “Being an interim allows me to take longer trips,” she says.

Moving across sectors

There is currently an appetite in the public sector for private sector skills. Indeed, the Interim Management Association (IMA) says the public sector is the biggest user of interims. In Personnel Today (18 January 2005), it was reported that public sector HR professionals find it more difficult to break into the private sector. So if you are stagnating in a public sector post, signing up with a good interim agency that will help to sell your skills to the commercial world could help you to make the move.

The money’s not bad, either

The latest Russam GMS report puts the average day rate of an interim at £513, while the IMA says senior interims can command between £500 and £1,500 a day. With specialist skills, you can command premium rates. “If you have skills that are in short supply that would otherwise be brought in by a management consultant then you will be rewarded for them,” says Tulsiani. “Being a good generalist is not always enough to succeed as an interim. But if you have post-integration or acquisition experience you are likely to be paid a premium.”

Being part of a growing sector

Interim management is starting to be seen as a career in its own right. It is also a fast-moving sector. According to the IMA, the UK market exceeds 500m annually and is growing, with 93% of clients saying they would use an interim manager again. There are an estimated 10,000 interim managers in the UK and the average age is getting younger. In the IMA’s publication, Interim Management Matters, one provider is quoted as saying that 25% of people on his database are aged 45 or under. Many of them have found that the challenge offered by interim assignments provides the ideal fit with their career and lifestyle choices.”

Portfolio working

The move away from a ‘job for life’ and the rise of flexible working are just two factors that have fuelled the growing interest in portfolio workers. Being an interim provides the ideal scope to be a portfolio worker. “An interim could do generalist work at one rate, but also higher margin work such as coaching,” suggests Tulsiani, or other jobs in your portfolio could be totally unrelated to HR.

The Russam GMS report is available at www.russam-gms.co.uk/entrylist.cfm?typeid=4

Comments are closed.