Let me tell you a story about how I made the decision 15 years ago to become an interim CEO, solely based on a chance conversation with someone I didn’t know very well — an acquaintance named Philip Monego.
Philip and I occasionally ran into each other at conferences for online companies. On one particular occasion, I saw Philip approaching and holding out a new business card. I tried to make a wiseass joke, asking: “Can’t you hold down a job?”
Maybe not the best line, but he smiled and said, “Bob, you don’t understand VC here in Silicon Valley. They won’t just give a rookie engineer a check for $5 million.” He went on to explain that back in 1987 based on the advice of one of the investors in his first startup, he formed Technology Perspectives Partners, LLC (TPP), an interim management consulting practice. He had developed a team of professionals who could parachute into a new company to help the founders, alongside the VC fund’s check.
Then he handed me his new business card. It read:
Numbers are a friend of the interim, not only for analyzing a company’s health, but also for assessing the state of the field itself.
The trick is capturing figures from a nebulous population that defies traditional employment counting or data-collecting.
The UK’s Institute for Interim Management annual survey offers one look. It captured data from roughly 2,000 interim managers and executives doing business in the UK this year. The study provides hard data regarding interim engagements in a country that has a strong tradition of engaging interims in both the private and public sectors.
PRESS RELEASE (view original)
15-November-2012 –Interim executives wage a covert war against corporate inefficiency and underperformance. Today’s launch of the Association of Interim Executives (interimexecs.org) marks a new day for interim executives and the companies that need them.
Go ahead and think of an interim executive as the James Bond of the executive suite: a nimble operator who brings the precise tools to get the job done. Now, an association has his back.
The association’s select membership includes champion business leaders who’ve already been doing the behind-the-scenes engagements, empowering them with new alliances to help increase their businesses, while promoting their specialty to companies that could benefit, from start-ups to distressed turnarounds.
Experienced management is one of the most important factors behind the success of any business. Many managers have ample enthusiasm and energy, but often lack the knowledge and experience needed to sidestep easily avoided mistakes. As a result, far too many companies get into trouble and can die before ever reaching their potential market value.
If you have an extraordinary innovation, opportunity, or even a unique situation an interim executive can help launch, grow, or turnaround your venture by temporarily filling one or more key management roles in your company. Whether they serve as your interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Selling Officer (CSO), Chief Manufacturing Officer (CMO), Chief Whichever Officer (CXO), General Counsel, or in some other senior executive role, they can stand by your side as an experienced executive with a vested interest in your long-term success.
Interim C-level executives are experienced managers who have launched and grown successful ventures. As your partner, they roll up their sleeves and work towards laying the groundwork for a successful venture. They work hard, because they succeed only if you succeed.
A Proper Mission Statement Provides an Understanding of Future Growth Directions
Does your company have a mission statement? If so, feel confident in knowing that the company is in a select group of companies that have engaged in this forward-thinking activity.
But what good is a mission statement if it’s not put into practice? When was the last time you read your company’s mission statement? What did it say to you? What do you think it conveys to others?
A mission statement must spell out what your company does and where it is going. The answers to these questions are supposed to inspire and guide you and your employees every working day and hour, whether your business is coming up ahead, lagging behind, or just sitting in the middle.
Mission statements often come up short, like this nebulous one: “The mission of our company is to provide excellence and quality for all of our customers.”
As a follow-up to the article on how to write a good mission statement, highlighted below are critiques of a few mission statements, including some familiar ones.
Example: We provide pick-up and on time delivery of important documents worldwide.
Verdict: Very good. The service is one of delivery to a worldwide market. But the mission statement does not cover all customer shipments, only small packages on an urgent basis. “On time” talks to the issue of reliability. While the specific of “how” isn’t discussed, it is implied that an efficient ground and air distribution network is in place and is operated on a continuous basis.
PitchBook’s recent report on 3Q activity in the PE world provided a good news/bad news kind of experience.
First the good: exits and fundraising are two relatively bright spots for PE investors. While “capital exited slipped following a record-breaking 2Q…the 143 deals executed in 3Q 2012 (were) a slight improvement in line with the recent trend, according to the report.
Meantime, PE firms closed 28 funds with a total of $35 billion, the report stated. That figure was down slightly from the previous quarter, but “3Q still registered the third best fundraising total in the last three years,” according to PitchBook.
It’s not easy being a turnaround artist these days. Just ask Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney is taking serious heat for his work at Bain Capital, including recently a derisive Rolling Stone article, “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.” The piece outlines Bain’s “epic wealth grab” which it argues both destroyed jobs and entire companies.
Don’t flee, this isn’t a political piece. But a word here, please.
Whatever the opinions about Mitt Romney and his private-equity business history, let’s focus for a moment on the real-live turnarounds of distressed companies, the kind of engagements that attract many interim executives. Turnaround, that is, by definition.
Lonnie Sciambi, for example, is one turnaround artist who would appreciate that shift. Sciambi said he was asked at a party what he did for a living. He said he did turnarounds. “The guy said, ‘So you slash and burn?’” Well, not exactly.
Interim executives, like the temporary workforce, take assignments for limited terms and can help decrease a company’s expenses. But that’s pretty much where the comparison ends.
The specialty isn’t about filling slots temporarily — although interims can and do step in when a member of the executive suite steps down unexpectedly — but about bringing in highly experienced experts who come equipped to solve whatever challenging situation a company is experiencing.
In fact, think of it as exactly the opposite of seat-filling. It’s all about bringing dramatic results by expert hands under a tight deadline. Often, the situation is critical, like in the following example.
Motorola Mobility, the cellphone maker purchased by Google last May, recently announced a turnaround effort is underway. Interestingly, inside the company’s innovation wing, the demanding principles that guide the interim executive world are being put to use.
The U.K. government currently is collecting feedback on a proposed initiative, The Taxation of Controlling Persons, that interim executives say would harm their businesses.
In the name of seeking a simpler and more transparent tax system, the draft legislation seeks to require that individuals who direct the activities of an organisation at the senior level must be taxed as employees.
“This is being done with the best of intentions—that of dealing with the fat cats and tax cheats exposed in the media in recent months, but the rudimentary regulations and tax treatments are catching and threatening the livelihood of professional interim managers and executives….” The UK-based Institute of interim Management stated in its 2012 market survey, released this September.
The threat to interim executives is that the new tax doesn’t take into account their role as in-and-out agents of change.