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Sector Insights

Published on November 3rd, 2014 | by Simon Ward


Interim Insights: My First Year As An Interim Manager

Former BT executive and now interim business transformation expert Simon Ward, shares his interim insights and top tips for success after his first year of management.

A lot of people have asked me over the past 12 months why I made the move to interim. My initial response is that it was the right time for me personally and financially I felt I could afford what I considered at that point was an acceptable risk in moving out of permanent employment. After building a successful career in consultancy and strategic customer experience across several organisations (and decades), culminating in nine years at BT, helping build CRM, organisational insight and business improvement, I simply felt I had achieved as much as I could – but the recovering market also had an influence too.

Project Popularity

In the last year, I have had an increasing number of conversations with contacts that have seen a significant upturn in project and programme management assignments as the economy picks up and business confidence returns. For a PPM professional such as myself, this is of course welcome news and it made going into interim management an easier decision – but there are also other attractive elements.

Interim Advantages

For me personally, becoming an interim presented the opportunity to leave the permanent life of politics behind which is appealing. Interestingly, I have also found the key to being a successful interim is really who you know, not necessarily which company you have worked for.

I have found the variety of work rewarding – it has been great to go into a role where I felt like I was using all my skills and qualifications. However, while this kind of variety is appealing, the important factor here is that of sustainability. Interim can be a perilous existence for those who don’t have access to regular assignments so if you are considering on embarking on it, here are a few things I would suggest you keep in mind:

1. Work out your earnings, expectations and achievements – one of the first things I did before my first assignment was to calculate exactly how much I needed to maintain my existing lifestyle – not just me, but my family. I also calculated what utilisation and daily rate would be necessary to achieve this. Gaps between assignments can sometimes be 3-4 months. Are your expectations of this interim lifestyle realistic? Do you have a clear idea and evidentiary support of your achievements? These will be key to you gaining and retaining work.

2. Take time to reconnect and build your network - they will be essential to your future. Ensure also that you fully understand your market and the environment you operate in, so dedicate time to keep up with business news especially within your target sectors. This will help you build credibility and ensure you can demonstrate your expertise when meeting with agencies and potential clients.

3. Sell yourself – as a commodity. What is your proposition? Be sure to tailor your skills appropriately – don’t be a generalist, be a specialist.

4. Your CV – it is always appropriate to tailor your CV. In my experience, 3-4 pages works well for length. Consider 2-3 persona CVs that will support your propositions to a potential client. For me these are Project and Programme Management, Business Improvement, and Customer Experience and Loyalty. Also, make sure you consider case studies as part of your CV – it will really help bring it to life and provide real evidence of your capabilities.

5. Agencies – remember it is not just up to an agency to find you a job. Make sure you are selective about the ones you register with and sell something to them that makes you interesting. When you get in touch with them, have something to say - a relevant conversation. Perhaps it was your last role or a new skill or qualification you have gained? Add value. They will be grateful for the update and more likely to keep you front of mind when that next role does come in.

Have you only just started out as an interim? What interim insights can you add to the above article? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you are just starting out on your interim journey we have the perfect eBook for you! How To Become A Successful Interim Manager covers everything you need to know about getting started as an interim today. To download your free copy, click here.

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About the Author

Simon is an experienced business transformation programme manager who has worked with leading organisations in the UK, the US and Europe in a number of sectors, most notably Telco. His approach is very much ‘outside in’, driven by the ‘voice of the customer’, with an extensive background in loyalty programmes and CRM strategy.

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