Life as an Interim
Having spent just over 17 years of my life as a specialist Interim Manager, one of my biggest challenges has been explaining to people what I actually do. You would think this to be fairly straight-forward, but believe it or not, I find it quite complicated to explain for a number of reasons. People have described me as a troubleshooter, consultant, change manager, continuity manager and a non exec. In truth, I can understand why description is difficult given the unique nature of the role.
For example, every assignment has been and still is, completely different. They have ranged from taking short term senior management roles in a wide variety of organisations to more complex assignments involving change. Occasionally I have also headed up project teams that are faced with significant time bound challenges in difficult environments.
The sensitive and confidential nature of some assignments also make it difficult to talk about. I have therefore learned over the years that less is more when it comes to explaining interim.
On a positive note there are many aspects of being an interim that I thoroughly enjoy and find rewarding, not least meeting and dealing with many new people and cultures. My assignments have also included different industry types such as Aerospace & Defence, Engineering & Construction, Packaging, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Transport & logistics and Government & Public Sector.
There have been the periods of travelling to assignment and having to take the early morning ‘red eye,’ along with getting used to hotels and living out of the suitcase. I continually amazed myself at just how much I could pack for a few days, including the office.
In more recent years I have specialised in change, growth and succession. This has enabled me to be slightly more flexible these days, allowing me to spend more time working with existing teams in a supportive capacity. Usually operating in a non-executive advisory role, I find myself well placed to provide on the job mentoring to managers and directors as they deal with their more strategic challenges.
Being a career Interim has been a very interesting and varied vocation to date, full of challenge and reward. I’m a believer of continuous development, having went back to study on three occasions, alongside the need to stay up to date with courses, including the latest insights and research in my field . The wide range of assignment briefs has also afforded me the unique experience of learning to relate to many different scenarios and personalities, often in turbulent environments.
Most satisfying of all though has been the privilege to see people grow as they overcome obstacles along the way. One thing I am convinced of is the capacity of people to excel in challenging circumstances and I have witnessed this first hand many times.
Interim is not for the faint hearted and it’s very different from the norm. Change is a way of life and staying still is not an option.
The role of the Interim Manager has demonstrated real tangible bottom line value to many organisations and in my view will continue to do so for a long time to come.