Executive Interim Management - The Dawn of a New Profession

The business of Executive Interim Management is growing now more than ever before. The growth is driven by strong underlying trends, including higher focus on execution and agility rather than alternative strategies and advice. The price/value of classic management consulting is questioned; executive search sometimes takes too long and more very qualified people want to become independent professionals. But what is Executive Interim Management really all about? The term interim is used more and more often and in all kinds of contexts. Suddenly everyone wants a slice of the cake.

Björn Henriksson is the Managing Partner of Nordic Interim. He believes Executive Interim Management is a great solution to many challenges in an organizations which, in the past, has been solved by permanent recruitment or management consulting services. Despite this rising interest, the term is still mixed up with staffing, speed recruitment, consulting and/or search.

– From time to time an organization face a situation where extraordinary execution capabilities are needed. You can, for example, be faced with a situation where you need to make a turnaround in a non-performing unit, integrate an acquired company, move a factory, open up a new market, secure an important product launch or improve the CFO or Marketing function. In the past you either went to a search firm to find a person to employ, or you engaged a management consulting firm to help you with the challenge at hand. However, your need is temporary, so permanent recruitment is not optimal, and your actual problem is the ability to execute your plans – not to get another advice.

Executive Interim Management has taken the best of two classic professional services – management consulting and executive search – and created a solution to a problem many organizations face from time to time: How to temporary engage very experienced people that alone or in teams can secure important initiatives or temporarily manage key functions.

– Yes, we are like an iPad; we are not a mobile phone and we are not a computer, Björn says with a smile. We are the solution I sometimes looked for myself when I was a senior manager, but knew too little about.

Still there is a great confusion about what Executive Interim Management is all about. Björn and his colleagues in the industry often meet people who have misunderstood the service. Possibly due to the name of the service it selves.

– The word interim itself might be part of the challenge. To many people it has the meaning of a temporary solution; something that you have until the permanent solution is in place. This confuses people when it comes to when and how to use it, and the value it brings. In France, however, they talk about Transition Managers. This might be a better name.

Björn has thought a lot about the naming issues, but has come to the conclusion that it is better to continue educating the market about what Executive Interim Management is really about, rather than trying to invent a new name or another buzzword. Today the Interim business in Sweden is ten years behind Europe, Finland is ten years behind Sweden – and Europe is still immature. So the industry is at a very early stage. Once the market has understood what Executive Interim Management is, the potential is enormous.

– Let me give you an example. The Interim Market in Sweden, as it is defined today – senior people filling a temporarily empty role in an organization – is worth ~ 500–600 MSEK. If you include implementation consulting the market is worth 7,000 MSEK. Nordic Interim currently has a speed ni turnover of ~100 MSEKnd and at least three times bigger than nearest competitor. You see, the potential is enormous.

In order to provide independent professionals, that match all types of different, extraordinary situations that companies are faced with, a large and qualitative network is required. This is something Nordic Interim has cultivated since the start in 2004. As of 2014 this network of contacts has been further broadened by establishing the Globalise (www.globalise.com), together with leaders in Europe and USA.

– This way, we build our industry’s KPMG. We harmonize methods of operations, quality assurance, payment methods and so on, and on a monthly basis we run a pipeline of international projects. Globalise is the leading international grouping of companies in Interim Management under one single brand name. This makes Nordic Interim unique, and lately we have noticed that our customers choose us over our competitors, largely due to our ability to find resources abroad. This gives us an enormous advantage.

The ability as a leader to gain confidence quickly within an organization, and being able to take on a decision-making role from day one, is something Nordic Interim places a great value on. Their intention is to further develop and educate their “interimers” in this field and Björn Henriksson concludes by looking forward, seeing a new profession on the horizon.

– By further developing these abilities, we will build the profession Interim Management; much like what has happened in the consulting business when Consulting Skills became a highly appreciated capability. By creating a platform for our “super interimers” and continue educating the market, I am convinced that it won’t take long until clienst start saying “Get me a real professional, a person with Interim Management Skills.”