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Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Chloe Watts


Interim Management Market – Past, Present and Future

I started out managing an Interim practice at the grand old age of 26.  The industry was finding its way and the common themes focused on a candidate’s firm commitment to interim and ne’er a return to the world of permanent engagements. The predominant make-up of the candidate population was a male 50-something (notable given they were usually twice my age) and clients often needed a degree of education around what Interim was and how to make best use of an Interim resource. So how have things changed?

The interim evolution

Over the last 15 years, the industry has experienced boom periods and the trials and tribulations of economic downturn and huge uncertainty. There has been a maturation process and Interim Management is now a well-recognised career option which individuals from both genders are choosing at earlier stages in their professional lives.  Interim offers a breadth of experiences in quick succession and suits change-oriented individuals who are best focused on specific deliverables in a defined period.  However, it is no longer a requirement to sign away your rights to look at attractive permanent opportunities.  There is a marked move towards a more contract agnostic market where clients need resources to deliver certain objectives, some of which may stretch over a number of years so that a permanent engagement is the most appropriate option.  There is now a need for more agility from the provider and Interim communities to satisfy their business requirements.

No casual candidates

However, even with this change, I would still warn against the ‘stop-gappers’ (those who have been impacted by a set of circumstances which sees them out of work and anticipating that Interim is the easy option to tide them over until the right next permanent move) from a casual approach.  Invariably, these individuals do not have the appropriate psyche or focus to deliver in an interim role and also pose a fair degree of risk that they will leave the assignment early to pursue their corporate career.

Market misbehaviour

In addition, the challenging economic climate of recent times has led to the worst types of client behaviour afflicting the industry.  Clients don’t always show professional respect for the process of engaging Interim Executives.  Many might embark on a ‘toe in water’ philosophy, engaging candidates at the briefing stage but leaving them high and dry when it comes to providing feedback on their suitability.  Others will be so incredibly prescriptive in the brief that they are often bypassing some exceptional talent.  These are continuing frustrations, but the return to more buoyant times means that the power is moving back towards the candidate and many can vote with their feet - so misbehaviour such as this is becoming less tolerable.

Work-life, balanced?

The ongoing socioeconomic theme throughout this period has been the increasing desire to achieve more acceptable work life balance – whether you are working as an Interim or permanent. I think this has never been better evidenced by the immense support I have personally received from the Interim and client community about my own decision to leave the team here at Alium Partners after over eight years to spend some more time with my young family.  What I have been most impacted by is the almost vehement endorsement from men, over and above, professional women.  There is a continued shift in the interim and permanent employment market to more equality in flexible working and long may this continue!

May I publically thank all those who I have worked with over the last few years and wish you every continued success!

What is your opinion on how the interim market has changed and evolved? Share your thoughts on Chloe’s blog below.

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About the Author

As part of her HR Practice responsibilities, Chloe plays a key role in the development of the active HR community at Alium holding a number of events for HR Directors and senior HR Interims. She works with a diverse portfolio of clients placing senior executive roles across a breadth of management disciplines and across commercial sectors.

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