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National and Global, United States

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The History of an Interim "C" Person...


If you every want to get the feel of being in an incubator all by yourself, you might want to attempt this type of career. You generally get the worst of the assignment, and don't really benefit from the outcome. You do get paid well, in the process, if that's any comfort.

Fact is, this is not an easy space to live in.
In my case, The majority of the situations were at the request of equity partners/VCs who had invested a ton of money, with little return. Mostly early-stage and start up, but a few 'roll outs' from major corporations such as Lockheed-Martin.
So, just as an introduction I'll list the interim titles and verticals:

President -- digital transmission of film to theaters in New York and Los Angeles
President- Sports Publishing firm in Los Angeles
CEO/ Chairman - Streaming Media company in Austin
CEO - Streaming Media company in Southern California
CEO- internet shopping site in San Diego
President -- interactive game company in San Jose
CMO -- Software company in Seattle
President -- Direct-to-home TV company in Western Africa
CMO- glass manufacturer/retailer in South Africa/Western US
CMO -- interactive immersive game spin-out from Lockheed
There may be more...but I can't remember.

The 'key' in all of these engagements, is that they were short-term (6-12 months), always on contract, always on retainer, and in start-ups...always an equity play.

There were always a wide-variety of issues, but most dealt with productivity improvement, profit enhancement (assuming there were profits), product, and strategy.

There are several factors that make interim management the resourcing option that it has become today:

Speed. Interim managers can be in place within days as opposed to weeks (essential when time constraints are paramount).

Experience. Interim managers will be more than qualified for the position they are taking on and will therefore be stepping down in responsibility. They will also have past experience of similar challenges to the ones they are about to face. They should be equipped to have an immediate impact and be productive from the outset, minimizing the risk of things going wrong and, more importantly, ensuring success.

Objectivity. Unencumbered by any previous involvement in company processes or staff relationships, interim managers should provide a fresh perspective and be free to concentrate on what's best for the business.

Accountability. Rather than taking on a purely advisory role (as a management consultant would), interim managers are responsible and accountable line managers who will implement and manage a business or project in their own right.

Effectiveness. Operating at or near board-level gives interim managers the authority to effect significant change or transition within a company — unlike a temp, they're not just there to ‘hold the fort’.

Commitment. Interim managers are typically committed to an interim career. For them, this is never just something they are doing until a suitable permanent position is found. A good interim manager should enjoy the challenge of the different assignments, take great pride in maintaining the highest standards while realizing that they are only ever as good as their last job.

There are a number of different business situations that could result in the need for an interim manager. Typically, these could be situations such as crisis management, sudden departure, illness, death, change management, managing change or transition, sabbaticals, MBOs and IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and project management.

Sounds like a 'cake walk'. Where do I sign?

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