Interim life: not for everyone but rewarding for some
Nick Diprose & Ben Davies look at what it takes to be a successful interim, the pros and cons of interim life, how to find assignments and the range of work finance interims get involved in.
This follows their first article which explained how hundreds of finance professionals in the UK have made interim management their career of choice.
What it takes
The most successful finance interims tend to be very well-rounded individuals: they have highly attuned diagnostic, analytic and people skills; they are confident enough to lead, coach and challenge, but sensitive enough to know when to keep quiet; they are often very commercially minded.
Those operating at senior levels will have general management experience and may have done stints overseas and in other functional areas, giving them the holistic viewpoint so often required for success as an interim.
Interim roles generally fall into three categories: turnaround, gap management and special projects.
- Turnaround and transformation: these jobs are usually the province of specialist ‘heavy hitters’. Speed is vital, as are cash management, insolvency knowledge, clear communication and relationship management with shareholders, banks and other stakeholders.
- Gap management or critical vacancy: sudden departure of an executive or senior manager through illness, dismissal or other unexpected event is another trigger for the interim’s arrival. As well as ‘holding the fort’, the interim might also help ‘sense-check’ the profile for the replacement, and assist with hiring and ‘on-boarding’ the new employee.
- Special projects: these include planned change situations – such as acquisitions, disposals, mergers or restructurings – and ‘one-offs’, such as a major financial information systems implementation, a compliance project or outsourcing/shared services initiative.