Thursday, 14 November 2013

Top 5 Meeting Tips for Interim Assignments

If you're counting down the days till your next meeting for an assignment, these helpful hints will help you get in the right frame of mind in order to leave a lasting impression in the meeting and secure the assignment.

1. Do your research 

Preparation is the key to a successful meeting and to getting that assignment you desire.  It is the little things that make the big difference.  Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail.  You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you've done your homework on things like their last year's profits, employees, competitors and recent successes, contract losses, latest product launches etc.  Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence if it’s a sector you are unfamiliar with. Doing some research on the individuals you are meeting is always a good idea to find common ground you can build on to quickly build rapport.

2. Practice key interview questions & answers 

Although there is no set format that every client meeting will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to some of the most common questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best Interim for the assignment.  Build on past successes and what you did in a similar situation, what you delivered and the return on investment for the client.

3. Look the part 

Appearances shouldn't matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you've even uttered a word. Make sure your shoes are polished; you have a smart business suit on with a crisp shirt and business tie.  After all you are in a business meeting and should dress appropriately.  

4. Stay calm 

Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays, and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before.  Don’t oversell yourself.  Let your achievements speak for themselves but don’t come across as someone who is desperate for the assignment.  If you have been off assignment for a while, it’s not their fault.

5. Ask questions 

You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the business.  Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the assignment, some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company and some that help scope the assignment brief and map out key objectives.

For more information please contact Macallam Interim on 01423 704153 or 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Top 10 CV Do’s & Don’ts

A Curriculum Vitae is an essential marketing tool and getting a meeting can depend on how good your CV is. The way you present your CV can have an overwhelming influence over whether your CV is even read, let alone get a meeting. You need to consider what to include, how much detail is needed and how to make your CV stand out from others.

  1. Construct your CV with your prospective client in mind. Look at the assignment advert or specification and think about what the assignment involves, and what the client needs. Find out about the client, culture, operating style and make your experience relevant.
  2. Tailor your CV to the assignment. Your CV shouldn't be your life story but should be tailored for the assignment you're applying for, focusing on the aspects that are important for that role. 
  3. Make it clear and tidy. Check your spelling and grammar and read it through carefully. It’s amazing how many CV’s have spelling mistakes in them.
  4. Place the important information up-front. Put experience and education achievements in reverse chronological order. Include experience and interests that might be of use to the client: IT skills, voluntary work, foreign language competency, driving skills, leisure interests that demonstrate team skills and organisation/leadership skills. 
  5. Quote concrete outcomes to support your claims. For example, ‘This reduced the development time from 7 to 3 days’ or ‘This revolutionised the company’s internal structure which led to a reduction in overheads from £2.3million to £1.7m per year’. 
  1. Include information which may be viewed negatively – failed exams, divorces, failed business ventures, reasons for leaving an assignment. Don’t give the interviewer any reason to not include you. 
  2. Make your CV more than three pages long. You can free up space by leaving out or editing information that is less important. For example, you do not need to include referees or include a detailed account all of the assignments you have held since school. Place more emphasis and detail on the recent and most relevant ones. Add details about your most recent qualifications, which are more relevant, but summarize the rest. 
  3. Dilute your important messages. Don’t bother with a list of schools you attended or a long list of hobbies. Such things like this and school grades can be summarised. Concentrate on demonstrating the skills they require, what you have achieved and what benefits your clients have gained from your work. 
  4. Use jargon, acronyms, technical terms - unless essential. 
  5. Lie – In this era of the “Information economy” people and clients have many ways of checking what you say is true, and may dismiss you from the process or at worst employment if they find this is untrue.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Interim Management Market Trends

As we enter Q2 of 2013 how is the landscape of the interim market looking?  My view is not too bad but am getting  mixed views from others.  The climate continues to be challenging but there are green shoots appearing from a  number of areas.  Business or contract turnaround, restructuring, projects / programme management  and finance  continue to be busy but also seeing more demand for strategic business development for organisations both in the  UK and internationally.  We are seeing an increase with our clients looking to grow and require strategic input to  help move the business forward and drive the change programmes that will ultimately transform their  organisations. 

The latest Ipsos MORI  (IMA membership audit)  results confirm that special projects accounted for the largest  proportion of interim assignments in 2012 with programme / project management the highest cited reason for the  assignment at 35%. This doesn't come as any surprise as 'special projects' can cover a multitude of scenarios and  span all of the functional areas of a business.  Finance follows closely as a functional discipline   ( this will include  turnaround and restructuring from a finance focus) and we have certainly been busy through 2012 and into 2013  with finance assignments.

Engagement of interim executives remains highest  in the private sector with 64% of assignments completed   compared to the public sector with usage running at 64% with Banking and finance accounting for the highest  percentage of this at 47%.

The average length of assignment is 175 (billable days) but with almost one third lasting between 60 - 120 days.   This doesn't really tell us a lot as each assignment should be treated on a case by case basis but useful information  all the same.

The split between male and female interims is roughly two thirds to one third in favour of males but this will of  course fluctuate on a quarterly basis.  We have  experienced an increase in female interims on assignment.

The interim proposition continues to provide a flexible resourcing solution although the economy continues to  have its ups and downs and is likely to do so for some time yet, with companies recognising that this is often the  most successful and  cost effective route to solve an immediate business critical problem or help them with  projects etc.  There are of course the ongoing threats from new entrants to the market, indecision, and pressure  from the Government over recent months, but one thing remains certain and that is a continuing need for  businesses to engage highly skilled, focussed, results driven executives to spearhead change and drive  transformation programmes. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Interim Management sector and the Budget

The budget appears to be OK for business but what does it mean for the interim management sector?  Following the Governments U-turn and decision to abandon the ‘controlling person’ proposals recently, most involved in the interim management world were expecting IR35 to feature in the budget.  All we saw was a brief mention with a reference that ‘office holders’ will be affected by IR35.  The main budget document briefly states that ”as announced in the Autumn Statement 2012, the Government will make a small amendment to the existing IR35 provisions to equalise the tax and NICs treatment of office holders, and put beyond doubt that the legislation applies to office holders for tax purposes” (2.192 of the Red Book).

It’s not much to go on and there doesn’t appear to be a legal definition of what an ‘office holder’ actually is.  There is a judicial definition of ‘office’ that is referred to in HMRC’s status manual that states it’s a  “permanent, substantive position which had an existence independent from the person who filled it, which went on and was filled in succession by successive holders.”

That’s all well and good but I still don’t see that this should affect Interim Executives operating through a limited company.  When an organisation engages an interim executive to deliver a specific set of objectives or project for a short period of time with the agreement and expectation the individual will exit once the agreed objectives have been delivered, then this is not a permanent role, should not be on payroll and not treated by HMRC as if it were.

Perhaps clarity on timescales is a better way of dealing with those that are abusing a loophole rather than labelling them as if they were a long term ‘office holder’.  Encouragement should be given to those that can help businesses on the road to recovery through short term help.

We seem to be in a similar place when ‘controlling person’ was being debated but just a different terminology.  If IR35 legislation is amended to include limited company contractors acting as ‘office holders’ (Treasury guidelines state that ‘office holders’ are senior personnel occupying specific position at Director level), surely this can’t include those who are ‘office holders’ of their own company?

It doesn’t do much to help rejuvenate an already fragile economy.  Organisations in both private and public sectors can gain some real value in a short period of time through the engagement of an interim executive where a permanent appointment might not be necessary or in the budget.  As a result they might well be in a better position to invest in growth / product launches, contracts, M&A etc. which in turn creates more opportunity and jobs.  Surely we need to continue developing and building the interim management market beyond the £1.5B it is worth today and encourage more talented individuals to a career where they impart their extensive skills and experience on organisations in need of change.   We don’t need to risk losing new entrants (serious about embarking on a career as an interim) or the experienced practitioners either into permanent roles, retirement or worst still, overseas. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The definition of an interim

As we enter 2013 and adjust to what is a new landscape of the interim market, there are varying views and interpretations of what an interim manager actually is / does.  For the avoidance of doubt the Wikipedia definition is as follows, Interim management is the temporary provision of management resources and skills. Interim management can be seen as the short-term assignment of a proven heavyweight interim executive manager to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization. In this situation, a permanent role may be unnecessary or impossible to find on short notice. Additionally, there may be nobody internally who is suitable for, or available to take up, the position in question.
This sums up the definition rather succinctly and reflects the nature of the interim market. There are however, an increasing number of new entrants to the market with no intention of pursuing a career as an executive interim manger but merely adopting the title of ‘interim x’ to tap into what is an established market for a short period until they find a ‘permanent role’.  The interim market consists of a relatively small population of executives specialising in change, transformation, restructuring, turnaround, programme management or to fill a gap in the leadership team with the intention of moving on to the next assignment once the agreed objectives have been delivered.
Although fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this new breed and there is demand, it is putting pressure on the true interim market and causing indecision due to the fact that it’s fuelling a what else is out there and at how much scenario.   As anyone involved in the market knows, this is of course a false economy.  The risk is much greater with someone who is not of the right mindset with no focus on delivery but rather taking the chance of it opening the door for a longer term stay.
Businesses in need of help aren’t too fussed about what label is given to the candidates we recommend.  The problem ensues when lower level operators start adopting the terminology incorrectly when a phrase such as ‘temporary x’ might be more appropriate to make the distinction.   Interim is a recognised description for someone working in the fashion akin to the Wikipedia definition and presents an understanding for all parties.  It is understood the individual will work through the appropriate vehicle (limited company, PI insurance etc.) and won’t demand lengthy notice periods, pay offs or employee Terms & Conditions etc.  
It is therefore no wonder that many people are confused with so many permutations at what actually constitutes the definition of an interim.  One thing remains certain though and that’s the continuing demand for true interim executives who will add value, drive change, deliver and leave a legacy in organisations without a hidden agenda.
By Steven Wynne