So you want to be an Interim Executive?

Institute of Interim Management

Institute of Interim Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With over twenty years experience as an Independent Interim Executive, I am often asked by for some tips by new entrants to the industry.

I would probably ask four searching questions:

1. “Why do you want to be an Independent Interim Executive?”

I would expect the prospective candidate to be able to articulate the reasons clearly for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Anybody, who feels that it is a useful “stop-gap” until a permanent role comes along is likely to be a non-starter – prospective clients and intermediaries will want assurances and will quickly see through any “smokescreen” answers.

2. “What makes you think that you will be successful as an “Independent Interim Executive?”

Again the prospective candidate will need to have marshalled his/her argument carefully. Critical points will be: stamina, aptitude and discipline to be self-employed; risk aversion; preferably a clear marketing proposition, including branding, web-site, online presence etc., ideally embracing LinkedIn, Twitter and a Blog; proven capacity to sell oneself, hardened and resilient; either a sizeable existing network or a clear plan to acquire and leverage a new network quickly.

3. “How many months can you survive without bringing in an income?”

In the old days when Interim Management and the wider economy was growing rapidly, I would have expected a financial buffer of at least twelve months. In times of recession and a tight interim market, I would counsel for two years plus of financial resources. Key points would be: size of monthly outgoing and especially covering a large mortgage; second income of a partner in the family; dependent children; life style; private incomes; other investments/redundancy settlements etc; pensions in draw-down etc.

4. “What do you know about the interim market?”

I would expect the prospective candidate to have done some serious desk research, talked to a number of existing Independent Interim Executives, and perhaps already had some exploratory conversations with some interim intermediaries (agencies).

As a point of reference, I would probably direct the prospective interim to the Association of Professional Interims for reference:

In my experience, most prospective interims would struggle to give four robust answers, and I would encourage them to reflect very carefully, do their homework, refine their proposition and plans, talk to some intermediaries, and finally suggest reviewing the subject again a month.

Depending upon the robustness of the candidate, I would probably talk about the extreme competitiveness in the market, with enormous over-supply of resource, and uncertain or weak demand in many sectors.

At the end of the day, the decision to enter the Independent Executive Interim market is down to the individual in consultation with his or her family, and my role would remain that of Coach or Mentor.

Reflections on my top 20 blogs in nearly three years of blogging

Bank of America Tower

Bank of America Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought that it might be of interest to share my top twenty blogs, over nearly three years,  ranked by number of hits, with the most popular first. To put this into perspective, there have been approaching 2,500 blogs and nearly 50,000 hits, yet these are the top-twenty according to WordPress statistics:

  1. Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt found dead after working long hours | Mail Online
  2. What are the three types of Interim Management assignment?
  3. What’s the difference between an Interim Manager and a Management Consultant?
  4. UK Local Authorities and Shared Services: Cost-Cutting – Myth or Reality?
  5. Immigration: The Polish paradox | The Economist
  6. Interim Management:  Ten Emerging Trends and Outlook for the Future
  7. Malaysia travel: What to do in the Cameron Highlands | CNN Travel
  8. Public Sector Catch 22: Cost-Cutting Vs. Cost Reduction (Part 1/4)
  9. Utilising Professional Interims to Help Reduce the Budget Deficit – Removing Catch 22?
  10. Public Sector Catch 22: The Role of “IT” in Business Transformation (Part 3/4)
  11. Public Sector Catch 22: Structural Reform, Strategy and Implementation – How to avoid a Omnishambles Recovery Programme? (Part 4 of 4)
  12. An in Depth Look at Deleveragings – Ray Dalio – Bridgewater
  13. UK Local Authorities and Shared Services: Cost-Cutting – Myths, Realities and Escalating Risks?
  14. The cult of home ownership is dangerous and damaging – Adam Posen –
  15. Gray Wolf Picture – Animal Wallpaper – National Geographic Photo of the Day
  16. Osborne has now been proved wrong on austerity – Martin Wolf
  17. Public Sector Performance: Catch 22 type Dilemmas 
  18. BBC – Travel – Two days in Siena, Italy : Tuscany
  19. Interim Management: Seven Key Trends
  20. The Open Public Services White Paper, the Budget Deficit and Thirteen Key Reasons for the Government to Deploy Professional Interims for Risk Reduction?

To be honest, I still don’t really know what makes a great blog. Certainly I try to search out some excellent articles on breaking news but at the end of the day I just add my two cents. It’s never clear to me whether the hits are due to:

  • Title
  • Author of primary article (where appropriate)
  • Publisher of primary article  (where appropriate)
  • My two cents of commentary
  • My open questions
  • My photographs
  • My related articles

There is also another strange statistic. The most hits do not correlate with the most likes.

Anyway, taking the above list of twenty top blogs, let me try to distill a few underlying threads.

Firstly, it really surprised me than my most popular blog ever, was my reblog of the MailOnline article about Moritz Erhardt, the German intern, who died whilst working excessive hours at Bank of America, the investment bank. This was major news story, so I believe that my two cents on this occasion probably hit a nerve with worried students and parents. In a world where the millennials are missing out on the opportunities of earlier generations, this tragic story highlighted the extreme competitiveness of the aspiring top 1%. What’s happened to society when greed and ambition cause competition to the death, with a prevailing culture of winner take all?

The second important theme is probably my subjective insights into the interim management industry. Some of these blogs were written nearly three years ago, and I have moved on, so it is not clear to me whether I was a visionary or just angry with life in David Cameron’s UK?

The third important theme concerns a number of detailed blogs about the public sector in the UK. I took a hard-line but given the impact of three years of austerity, I believe that I was probably right. The amazing thing is that the public sector in the UK is still going to get much worse, in both cuts and reduced services. George Osborne’s financial projections into the next Parliament require still further aggressive cuts. Ahead of the election, politicians will look to the arguments that will win elections, rather than serious reform of the public sector. With the help of my fellow blogger, John Gelmini, I believe that this blog has provided some refreshingly different suggestions to tackle the challenges of the UK public sector.

The fourth theme that I would like to pick up is that people love quality travel articles. Perhaps, travel articles provide hope, and encouragement to many, or they are a form of escapism.  Anyway, the most fascinating blog was about the Cameron highlands in Malaysia. Rather than focusing on travel, I often wonder if a number of bloggers were looking for the ancestral home of David Cameron!

So to conclude with a common theme and an open question:

What’s David Cameron done for the Millennials?

A view of Fields and fields of...... Tea in Ca...

A view of Fields and fields of…… Tea in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any thoughts?

Enhanced by Zemanta