Can interim managers make a difference to the National Health Service, bringa more commercial touch to central and local government, or help the Police tofight crime? Wilf Altman looks at IM’s splash in the public sector Interims are already in demand by the NHS as general managers, HR directorsand financial controllers and they are branching into many other parts of thepublic sector. Interim providers say demand for interims by the public sector has risensharply in the past 12 months and predict this is only the start. Users ofinterims with specialist skills, in management, HR or finance admit interimscan make a real contribution in the drive to modernise. “There is a huge amount of activity going on in central and localgovernment,” says Torrie Smith, director of interim management atPricewaterhouseCoopers. “Local authorities are becoming major users ofinterim managers, as are government agencies, because they have moreindependence. PwC has seen a 30 to 40 per cent growth in public sector assignmentsover the past 12 months.” New government initiatives like the Small Business Service (see case study)illustrate the opportunities for interims, but also suggest there is now a muchwider understanding of the IM role. On the one hand, why bring forwardpermanent appointments when a perceived role is still unclear and aprofessional short-term interim manager can help clarify your exactrequirements? On the other, what we are seeing is private sector involvement inthe public sector to step up efficiency and, where appropriate, profitability –and this will grow. Even the Cabinet Office recently invited a delegation of senior members ofthe Interim Management Association – Ian Daniel, Torrie Smith and CharlesRussam – to brief HR heads of government departments. They were veryinterested, according to Daniel, chairman of the association. One reason the interim market is opening up in the public sector, he pointsout, is the need for specialists who can implement change, not just offeradvice or written reports. The experience of his own firm, Executive Support,suggests the public sector and not-for-profit assignments lead the currentdemand for interims, followed by demand for retail, finance, business andproject managers. The reason is that interim managers are seen to be more costeffective than management consultants. Neil Simpson, head of TMP Executive Resourcing’s public sector practicesays, “We have noticed a significant increase in the number of publicsector clients and that is also the case with large charities. Greater demandby government agencies and local government is all part of the modernisationagenda and the call for structural change.” Typically, interims are not only brought in to implement change andcommercial practice, but also to fill short-term gaps where there is a highturnover of senior staff. Nigel Plumpton, head of personnel at the National Heritage Memorial Fund,turned to TMP “when we needed a suitable interim manager to cover a gap asa regional manager for three to four months, as we weren’t able to cover thejob internally. TMP found a suitable candidate with the right background andexperience in public sector work.” Plumpton attributes the growing demand for interim managers by large publicsector organisations to continuing reorganisation and restructuring and moreflexible work arrangements. In the NHS, where he worked previously, it ispartly due to quite a high turnover of senior managers. But he also echoes a view that is heard more frequently, namely that moreand more senior staffers are looking to work as interim managers as a careeroption. “They are prepared to step out of continuous employment and changethe pattern of their work life. It is not only people coming towards the end oftheir careers, but those who are making the change much earlier in theircareers because they are keen to move around.” In a recent lecture to MBA students at Cranfield School of Management,Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, noted that business school leavers onceattracted by dotcom start-ups are now showing real interest in starting theirown business as interim managers. Russam, who has been closely involved in thedevelopment of interim management for 15 years, confirms it is attracting moreyoung people, especially in HR, finance and general management. But he warnswould-be interim managers that if you want to succeed, you have got to seeyourself as a serious small business, operate as a professional, network aspart of a self-marketing discipline and work closely in conjunction with a fewselected agencies. You need a proven track record in a particular discipline, a commitment toworking as an interim manager, the ability to hit the deck running and thequalities of a good consultant to assess a situation fast, but also the abilityto implement change and deliver results. Mark Piercy exemplifies the Russam GMS paradigm and proves not only what isachievable as an interim manager but also how seasoned interims can movecomfortably from private to public sector assignments. As a purchasingspecialist with a business degree in purchasing and a professionalqualification, he has been an interim manager for the past five years, withvirtually no down-time, working closely with a few hand-picked agencies –Praxis, BIE, Russam GMS and Odger. “You have got to be flexible, preparedto work anywhere and to work up to 12 hours a day,” he says. He has worked in the NHS, looking at efficiency in purchasing in order tocut costs. He has also had other public sector approaches from police forces,universities, and ordinance surveys. Following a spell as interim purchasingdirector with soap firm Cussons and a switch to consultancy with one of the‘big five’ accountancy/consulting firms, he is now working on an assignment witha manufacturer of pharmaceutical, health and beauty products but sees growingdemand for interims in the public sector. Another interim HR manager with five years experience including publicsector work, following a career in manufacturing and financial services optedfor interim management because, in his 40s, it offered more interestingopportunities than continuing in corporate employment. His IM assignments havevaried from financial services to executive agency work where he filled a gapas HR manager. The variety appeals to him, plus the fact he can fill 75 to 80per cent of the year. He spends the rest of the year networking. But there is awarning: if you decide to make the switch, allow at least six months to makethe adjustment, including getting used to the absence of monthly salarycheques. Case studyMichelle Darraugh “I enjoy working in the public sector, “saysDarraugh. “There are private sector organisations which are a lot morebureaucratic!” Since last October, Michelle has worked as an interimmanager on a year’s contract for the Small Business Service, a two-year oldagency of the DTI. An internet and marketing specialist, she manages a websiteproviding feature articles, fact sheets, questions and answers and even help oncutting red tape for SMEs. “We are very customer driven. I run my ownsmall business (Blast Consulting) and our site feeds ideas to other smallbusinesses.” Darraugh moved into interim management when she “reached acrossroads in her career”. With an English degree from Cambridge, shestarted in publishing 12 years ago, falling into electronic publishing when itwas still in its infancy, first with Routledge, then with Reed Elsevier whereshe developed a reference service on CD-Rom, then Financial Times Management(part of Pearson) for five years and finally with a virgin internet start upbusiness. “I wanted to try running my own business. Interim managementappealed to me.””A friend who had been working as an interim manager forseveral years through Russam GMS heard about the opportunity at the SBS. Ithought with my experience I was the perfect candidate and contacted BobHoskinson, a Russam director. He put myname forward, I was interviewed and got the job.”Being an interim manager for the past five months and workingin a government agency has been a great experience, Michelle admits. “I’vemanaged to do quite a lot in a short space of time. I like the start upatmosphere and I can relate well to my target audience.”Case studyAngela SheenA qualified banker and senior HR specialist, Sheen left NatWestin 1994, before the bank made a number of senior managers redundant. She decided to try interim management. Most of her assignments – gained through agencies,recommendation and referral – have been in the public sector, both in the UKand in emerging markets abroad. Her most recent assignment involvedrestructuring the State Savings Bank in the Ukraine, an assignment for INGBank, which came via PwC.One of her latest assignments in the UK, through Russam GMS, was based in a divisionof the Lord Chancellor’s Office and involved the changeover of the Public TrustOffice to the new Public Guardianship Office. This called for a skills transferof existing HR staff and new selection procedures, as well as the developmentof a new competency framework.A previous assignment saw her as adviser to the State SecurityCommission in Bulgaria – a Delloite & Touche appointment. Other foreign bank assignments called for both commercialadvice and assistance in developing new HR strategies.Sheen says, from talking to other interim managers, it seemsmore assignments are coming from the public sector – both those secureddirectly and through agencies. It is a welcome development at a time when theprivate sector is still uncertain about the immediate economic outlook. Initially networking played a key role in starting and becomingknown, says Sheen. But now a lot of her work comes through recommendation.ResourcesPricewaterhouseCoopers 020-7213 8344Russam GMS 01582 666970BIE 020-7222 1010Ashton Penney 020-7659 0600TMP 020-7406 5115Interim Managers Association 01795 530830 Going publicOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
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