Money is not a major motivator in spite of the fact that women in Interim Management command an average of £604 a day. However, 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.
Hilary Sears, research co-ordinator, Interim Women says, “Women are turning to Interim Management for an entirely different way of working. The women we surveyed typically have 22 years’ business experience and were former senior business executives at the top of their game. They were motivated to leave their permanent careers because they wanted to be their own boss. Interim Management has enabled them to take charge of their careers, work with different clients in a variety of industries and experience the challenges of running a business.”
However, making the transition from a permanent career into Interim Management is not easy. The number one challenge for the women was winning their first assignment; the second was networking and marketing to win business and the third was defining their professional product to clients.
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. However, not everyone found it hard – 37% found it easy to start their Interim careers, with many taking just a few weeks to win their first assignment.
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.
Whilst, the women crave greater flexibility, it is debatable whether Interim Management delivers this. Around 8 out of ten Interims work full time and the remainder work part time. Half of all Interims focus on one client at a time, a third work for two clients at the same time and only 15% work for three clients simultaneously. Over half of the Interims work a five day a week, 15% work a four day a week, 18% work three days a week, with a small minority working one or two days.
Hilary Sears commented, “The majority of Interims are working full time, long hours and flat out on assignments – it is very intensive. Many concede that Interim Management is harder than their former careers, but insist it gives greater flexibility because the women can choose their assignments, manage their workloads and fit work around their charity interests and family life. They make the rules and are not constrained by office politics and someone else’s timetable. However, it means that any relaxation is relegated to between assignments.”
Amazingly, almost a fifth of Interim women (19%) also balance a trustee role with their Interim Management work and 71% of the women said they would like to take on an unpaid trustee role and fit this in with their Interim career.
One dark cloud on the horizon is the slow economic recovery. A fifth of women stated there are fewer jobs this year than last, tougher competition and bigger gaps between assignments. Clients are increasingly demanding with higher expectations too. 39% said these issues were their biggest concerns about the future. 16% were concerned about the public sector cuts and work drying up in this sector, and others were concerned about a drop in client demand and a fall in rates.
Charles Russam, Chairman of Russam GMS who set up Interim Women said, “It was striking that these women are so experienced, determined and resilient and they undertake Interim work because they are passionate both about being their own boss and working with different clients on challenging assignments.
“Whilst the majority of women confessed that Interim Management is hard work, it seems being the boss is worth the sacrifices. This report however, sends a clear message to businesses that there is a major pool of experienced, senior level women Interims out there who could help them with their toughest challenges.”