In demand and getting younger

first_imgIn demand and getting youngerOn 20 May 2003 in Military, Personnel Today Theimage of the interim manager is changing. No longer the preserve of the crustyold man, younger, more dynamic HR professionals are moving into the territorywith a blend of specialist knowledge and management nousMuch like police officers or soldiers, you always remember the first time youmet an interim manager (IM) younger than yourself, and it is becoming morecommon. According to the latest study by Russam GMS, more than half of IMs arenow aged between 45 and 55, and 22 per cent are under 45. This trend is reflected in pay rates for IMs which, again according toRussam, have steadily fallen. Average daily rates were £473 at the end of lastyear, compared with £511 in 2001. Yet, despite the looser job market, the demand for cost-effective HR interimspecialists has never been greater. A Mori poll for IM recruiter BIE in Marchfound the use of interim HR directors had more than tripled over the past year.Organisations are also using more part-time interims, says Raj Tulsiani,managing director of Penna Interim Executive. “Businesses are no longer using IMs on a five-day-a-week basis. Theyare targeting people who may have been a head of function in the past, andbringing them in two or three days a week,” he says. The image and function of the IM is changing. The notion of a slightlygrizzled, but hugely experienced, turnaround specialist is changing – youngerand more specialised managers are being called in for a particular project orto fill a specific operational need. Personnel Today spoke to two IMs, one older and one younger, to see whatchallenges such workers are facing at both ends of the spectrum. Angela Gibson Interim management gives Angela Gibson flexibility, control and variety –and the chance to do some travelling between assignments. Gibson, 32, comes tothe end of her current contract with Gillette at the end of this month, but isrelaxed about being out of work soon. “Uncertainty is a downside to being an interim to an extent, but youneed a certain amount of faith,” she says. “I have always managed topick something up.” Just over five years ago, Gibson decided to pack in her permanent job as anHR adviser within the NHS in London to go backpacking around the world. After astint in the automotive industry in the West Midlands on her return – whichended in redundancy and moving back to London – she took an interim role withconstruction firm Carillion, which became a permanent position. Restructuring again saw her back on the job market two years later, and itwas at that point that she decided to make the move more permanently intointerim management, signing up with the Interim Performers agency. “One of the best parts of being an interim is that it is flexible. Youcan work and then rest for two or three weeks between contracts. You can taketime off to, say, go travelling,” she says. At Gillette, Gibson is working to bed down a new e-HR system; an assignmentshe believes is giving her useful project management skills for the future.”A lot of my work has been relation orientated. Now when a big project comesalong, I’ll be able to say I have the experience to manage it,” sheexplains. Interim management, she says, gives you a chance to hone skills veryintensively and gain experience in a wide variety of sectors. Part of the buzz of being an IM is the ability to go into an organisationand really feel you have made a difference, she adds. At the same time, theymust be able to fit in with people they have never met before and get theirmeasure, quickly. “You need a bit of self-belief when you walk into a senior team andthey don’t know you and you have to influence them. That can be difficult,because as an HR person you influence best when you have already built yourbridges,” she says. Age can be a factor here, especially as Gibson looks younger than her 32years. “They tend to take about another 10 years off,” she jokes. “You do get people saying things such as ‘what do you know, you musthave only just come out of college’. But then a lot of it is also about whatyou can do. They will be looking at what skills you’ve got.” Interims must be prepared to have to work hard at interviews, too. Often itwill take two or even three interviews to land a contract that lasts a fewmonths. “Employers are moving away from seeing interims as being a temp to becomingproper interims, so they are taking it more seriously,” she says. Interims can be on their own when it comes to professional development.Keeping skills and training up to date is vital – particularly on fast-changingareas such as employment law. Unless you are working for a very generousclient, interims will often have to fork out for courses themselves, and makethe time to attend. Interims also need to be financially disciplined, ensuring they are settingaside enough to cover taxes, pension and gaps between contracts. On average,Gibson estimates, the money an interim will make, at her level at least, willnot be that much different to a permanent employee once gaps between contractshave been taken into account. The big difference is being in control of whatyou want to do, and being able to decide what skills you want to focus on next,she argues. “I am not willing to compromise,” she says. “Maybe previouslyI would have looked for a job and even if it was not ideal I might still havetaken it, but not now. If you have a gap, then enjoy it.” Angela Gibson’s CV– 2001 onwards – Becomes a full-time HR interim executive– 1999-2001 – Moves back to London, initially into IM, then asan HR adviser for Carillion– 1997-1999 – Works as an HR adviser in the automotive industryin Wolverhampton– 1996 – Backpacks round the world– 1993-1995 – Works as an HR adviser for the NHS in LondonAnn Hesketh-Hull After 10 years in military intelligence in the RAF, stints with the CivilAviation Authority, and 20 years working in vocational and technical education,Ann Hesketh-Hull decided in December 2000 that she had come to a crossroads andneeded a change of direction. “I knew that I could collect my pension, small as it was, and do what Iwanted for the rest of my life,” she explains. Interested in interim management, she attended a seminar on the subject runby Coutts – and was immediately put off because it seemed so demanding. Themove into IM came through being asked to project manage the making of a filmfor a friend. Her subsequent work has focused on organisational change andpolicy and strategic development. Hesketh-Hull, 52, who works through Russam GMS, believes one of the keychallenges facing any IM is the need to adapt quickly to the environment inwhich they are working. “You have to very quickly assimilate into the way the organisation doesthings. It is about being confident, having the right skills and competencies,but not being too confident, not being clever dicky,” she says. Good interim management is about opening the ‘combination lock’ that is eachmanager within the organisation and very quickly developing an appreciation andunderstanding of the processes and procedures companies often work to. “You need to have project management experience, but it is not an essentialskill. You must also be disciplined and a role model, often through smallthings – such as having a tidy desk,” she suggests. “You must be able to do wonderful but not unkind repartee, but you mustnever tell secrets,” she adds. “It is also worth consulting with themain players of the organisation, as well as the accountants, IT and front-linepeople. The caterers and mail room always know what’s going on.” What organisations are paying for when they hire an IM, she argues, is notso much the skill for the specific project in mind – although that’s animportant part – but the experience, skills and knowledge they have built upover a lifetime. One of the advantages of being an IM is the sense of control it brings.Hesketh-Hull, for instance, says she could earn £100,000 a year if she put hermind to it. “But I would not have a life, I would be frazzled and a lotolder. Flexibility counts, but so does careful planning,” she says. IMs need to understand how to market and promote themselves and have to beaware there will be financial peaks and troughs. “You have to put moneyaside for tax, savings and for tough times,” she says. “You need a very flexible ego. The first day you go in [to a newcompany] they are terrified of you, because they think you are going to be ahatchet person. And some inadequate organisations do use IMs to get rid ofpeople when they have not dealt with issues as they crop up. “It is like a big family, where you have 20 mother-in-laws and each oneis different and looks at you in a different way, so it is about how you getthem on side,” she says. While she finds being a successful IM a rewarding career in its own right,Hesketh-Hull is still focused on her own training and development, and will,for instance, be attending a course on dispute resolution in September. When it goes right, interim management can be a great feeling, she says.”It can be really fun bringing on people who have previously beendowntrodden. There is a real buzz about successfully completing an assignment,”she says. Ann Hesketh-Hull– 2000 – ‘Retires’ and becomes an interim manager– 1986-2000 – Vocational and technical education– 1982-85 – Analytical researcher for solicitors and barristers– 1979-82 – Contract work for the Civil Aviation Authority,then moves to an electronics firm– 1969-79 – Royal Air Force, working in counter intelligence Previous Article Next Article Related posts:center_img Comments are closed. Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a…last_img

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