Interim Management and the Sovereign Professional

Today’s publication of the IIM’s sixth annual Interim Management Survey contains some interesting findings for actual and prospective sovereign professionals.

Certainly of interest to those in the field, the survey shows a clear bounce-back from the inevitable dip which the business saw in 2011.  Average daily rates are up, “on assignment” rates are up and the average reported gap between assignments is down markedly.

From a sovereign professional perspective, I found two chunks of data to be revealing. 

The first appears to suggest that organisations value the business agility which hiring an interim provides. 74% of interims reported that their last assignment was driven by the need for Special Skills, Change Management or Business Turnaround.  Only 15% reported that their role was a “gap” assignment holding the fort until a permanent replacement was found. 

The second finding was the degree to which interim managers value the flexibility, variety and autonomy of their life/work style.  70% of prospective interims cited variety, flexibility or independence as the motivator.  Current interims are pretty wedded to their career choice: for 56%, interim is the only preference; a further 29% would prefer interim work but would consider a traditional “permanent” role.  Only 2% would prefer to be back in a permanent role.  At the same time, 64% of interims reported their current/last project to be either Very Fulfilling (23%) or Fulfilling (41%).

Preference for the interim modus operandi may well be related to this rather intriguing finding.  Interim managers were asked to give their Myers-Briggs type if known and the results show a marked skew when compared to the broader population of managers or of the population in general.  Three Myers-Briggs types represent 55% of interim managers compared to just 35% of managers in general and just 11% of the general population.

Overall, the survey runs to 60 pages and includes a wealth of cross-industry commentary as well as analysis into different aspects of the interim management world.

Interim management is a popular choice for seasoned professionals looking to escape from the routine of regular, “permanent” work (whatever permanence means in this context).  It can fit well into a portfolio career as long as you take a long view of your portfolio: interim assignments tend to be fairly “full on” and the rest of your portfolio will probably need to fit into the gaps between assignments.  If you want to spend the summer diving in the Red Sea, the winter skiing in Aspen or just a solid chunk of time to write your novel, it can be an attractive choice.

(Disclosure: As part of my own portfolio, I help the IIM with PR and Comms.)

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