Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interim Managers- more than just a band-aid

Crisis puts interim managers in demand,an article in the daily DNA attributes a very brief quote of mine in the Mumbai edition-the Bangalore DNA Money is a little more generous :-)!

One has to see the whole perspective in the context of

- the shift from the industrial economy (here the employer called all the shots -as the provider of jobs) to the intellectual economy (where the employee has the choice of working -or not!). One can see that the life time employment has given way to job hopping- and so really each qualified person doesn’t stick around for more than 2-3 yrs in a role.

-globalisation which forces companies to look for sources with ample supply of talent! For example USA -it has slipped from the topmost destination of R&D in 1994 to the 17th position last year, as the local students are less intent on following the "STEM careers" ( read science, technology engineering and maths!) as most Americans want to be managers!

R&D has shifted to the 'emerging countries' as the 'returning natives' wanted to work closer home. Once R&D shifts, manufacturing too will go from the west to the rest of the world..or at least closer to the markets!

- the ageing workforce in the Western World. Lot has been written about the millions of the baby boomer generation retiring in the next 10 yrs..even if it means people working till 70!

The present shaky economy is just an event that highlights the need for corporates to tie up their shoes..and buck up innovatively.

One has been exposed to the concept of 'interim managers' in high tech projects in India, especially in a sunrise industry where the Indian talent could just not meet the demand In the past decade. One has seen specialists in telecom infra, insurance actuaries, building international airports, the expressways and tollways where the scale of operations have been huge and there has been no similar precedence within our country -and hence lack of professionals with a proven track record. Why, even all those expat pilots who man most of our private airlines are 'interim managers' till local talent can rise upto filling in !

There is likely to be an insatiable demand even if were to just think of the SME segment in India. About 95% of Indian companies hire less than 250 employees, and are often promoted by technocrats, who cannot afford to hire laterally- senior or highly experienced professionals with complementary skills. It is a chicken or egg syndrome. To attract good talent, one needs a stable organisation. For a stable operation, one needs good talent. Such firms often make do by hiring freshers and trainees, and deferring gratification. Imagine the potential if they could hire interim managers for a few months..even at a premium!

Yes, interim managers come at a very high cost. Most of them have a proven track record, and would have to hit the ground running. And they are as good as their latest project. And would not compromise on their credibility.

Recessions or downturns like the present one, are provoking companies to re-invent ways of operations in order to survive and get ahead. The opportunity cost could be becoming extinct!!
Interim Managers are here to stay!

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