Not everyone wants to work for one employer, with set hours and fixed pay and being an interim manager is an option suited to senior level women looking for greater career flexibility and an opportunity to work for different clients in diverse industry sectors.
Interims are hired primarily to problem solve; to work on high level projects that need specific expertise and skills and for many, the challenging nature of the work is the main attraction. However, it is not a soft temporary option – it is hard work; assignments are intense and there can be long gaps between projects when you are not earning.
Every six months Russam GMS, an interim management recruitment provider who founded Interimwomen, undertakes a snap shot market survey of 12,000 interim managers and its most recent report in January 2012 provided great insight into the latest market trend, pay rates and the work interims are doing.
It revealed that the three sectors for women in interim management are charities and not for profit (20%), public sector (20%) and NHS (15%).
Just 8% work in the banking and financial services, 6% in engineering and manufacturing and the rest work in other sectors like IT, telecoms and retail. More men dominate positions in the private sector, banking and finance where pay rates are higher.
One clear trend emerging from the research is the evolving nature of assignments. Traditionally interim management was all about ‘gap filling’ – with interims hired to cover maternity leave or sudden absences. However, things have moved on and such roles only make up 13% of assignments today.
The majority of businesses today are recruiting interims because they bring in specialist skills that don’t exist within their companies. They are also using them to run specific strategic projects such as business restructuring, implement new strategies or to lead change management programmes. As a result, a growing number of interims now see themselves as ‘change managers’.
It is important to note too that there are no age barriers
in the industry. Interims in their 50s and 60s represent 78% of the market and those in their 50s, who make up the core of the market, command the highest pay rates – £648 a day. However, the industry is still male dominated – something we want to change. The average daily rate for women was £555, 13.5% less than men who are paid £630. The research shows that this could be because greater numbers of women work in sectors such as charities where pay is lower.
Last summer, we carried out an in-depth study of 1600 women working as Interim Managers, ‘Women in Interim Management – how to succeed, the opportunities and challenges,’ to uncover the top attractions of a career in Interim Management. The number one reason for women making the transition from their permanent careers was the desire to work for a range of clients and in different industries – they also wanted to run their own businesses and be the boss.
Surprisingly, money was not a major motivator – most women see Interim Management as a way of gaining greater career flexibility and work life balance, and a means of gaining new skills and experience.
Half of all women found the transition from permanent to Interim work difficult and said that it took several months or more to find work, with some taking up to a year. They stressed the importance of careful financial planning and creating a financial buffer to cope.
To win assignments, networking with former clients, colleagues and bosses pays dividends. Around a third found their first assignment through a personal recommendation or referral, 30% found work through an Interim Recruitment Provider, 27% said it was through networking and one in ten used the social networking sites Twitter and Linked In.
Most concluded that although it was hard work, it was worth it. They also full of some straight talking advice and practical tips to ‘would be’ interims. These tips were truly inspirational and motivating but at the same time very practical and realistic. I’ve highlighted a few of my favourites below:
– Take a long time to make your decision and consider all your options. Make sure you have a financial cushion of at least a year’s outgoings before you take the plunge.
– Talk with as many other interim managers as you can to get a good ‘feel’ for what being an interim is like.
– Prepare a business plan.
– Be flexible and ready to learn new skills.
– Apply for lots of credit before starting – sort mortgage etc – because it will take 2 years to build up the credit rating again. Register for VAT before making any purchases.
– Make sure you can deal with the uncertainty of the work and cash flow – some people can’t and permanent employment is a better option for them.
– Present yourself as a complete professional, Meet and get registered with the main Interim Management agencies and have a clearly defined service offer.
– Do your homework before deciding to make sure it is the right career choice for you i.e. – What benefits will you bring to a client? – What are your strengths? – What are your needs? – Is there a market for what you have to offer? – Do targeted networking and spread the word about what you do.
– You need to be able to be self motivated and get on with the job of generating business – even though you may not always feel like it. Ensure you have a good network of contacts – join Linked-in!
– Once you are sure this is what you want to do stick at it and don’t give up!