From permanent executive to interim executive

From permanent executive to interim executive

After a successful career at C-level, the farewell is there. Sometimes on your own initiative, sometimes unintentionally. A role as interim executive may be an interesting option. But where do you start if you want to make the step to self-employment? And what do you have to take into account when you start working as an interim executive?

9 January 2023

In Belgium, the revenue for interim management nationally was calculated at almost 127mio €, a growth of 9.3% versus the year 2020. The vast majority of interim management assignments is situated in Finance, Legal and Administration (62.3%), followed by Human Resources (12.4%) and Logistics and Production (8.2%).

Magali Schrans

Past vs. present

The phenomenon of executive interims is becoming more and more common in the Benelux.  "Belgian employees often don’t wait until they have reached their ‘fin de carrière’ to start thinking of a career as an interim manager. After about 10 years of experience, many financial and HR consultants decide to take the leap”, says Magali Schrans, Business Manager for the Interim Management Practice at Badenoch + Clark | LHH Recruitment Solutions Belgium. Are you thinking about becoming an interim manager yourself? “Make sure you have a flexible mindset, thrive in a quickly-changing environment and can think on your toes”, Schrans advises.

Companies will hire an interim manager in times of change. “Whether they are launching a new invoicing project, thinking of a warehouse automation or setting up a retention policy in this war for talent, an interim manager often offers a perfect solution for these temporary projects that require a certain expertise”, says Schrans. “Additionally, interim managers will often be contacted to fill in a temporary gap on management- or C-level. For example, they are looking for an interim manager for a temporary project or someone with a fresh yet business-minded view without emotional involvement. Or in of a situation in which expertise is needed quickly, but it’s not present in-house yet."



Especially the latter plays at executive level. "A search for a new CEO, CFO or other role at that level can take just a year”, Schrans explains. “So they look for temporary work until it is found. Or there are topics of a temporary nature that require a certain expertise, which a permanent CEO does not have to have." What does that desired expertise entail? "If you look specifically at executive interim management, you will see that a number of characteristics are crucial for organizations. Leadership experience, a certain size of teams managed, a number of years of experience, digital knowledge and any international experience. These things are necessary to get a company in a certain direction. So it's not just about keeping the chair warm. But think of whether to implement programs, expand in a certain region or restructure a company. "



Ronald de Zoete, Managing Director Badenoch + Clark | LHH Recruitment Solutions Netherlands is an expert in the Dutch interim market, where choosing an interim career is even more common. "I see that many executives who make the transition from a permanent to flexible role are not always well prepared”, says De Zoete. “I always advise: first map out your strengths and see where you want to use them. Do not only think of level, sector, number of FTEs, etc. It is precisely the phase in which you have managed an organization that is extremely interesting in these times of transformation.”

"Practical, in the first two or three months in which you investigate your options and have conversations, you can of course not yet send invoices. After years of a receiving a good salary, that has quite an impact on someone's personal situation. And golden handshakes are not as generous today as they used to be. So get a clear picture of what it means if you are going to work as an interim executive. For example, what will be your hourly rate? An executive search agency can be such a sparring partner for you in this. In addition: what are the risks? You become an entrepreneur, so that requires measures regarding tax, pension and insurances. In the event of a voluntary departure from your current position, take into account a non-competition and non-solicitation clause. Find out what you can and cannot do and for what period. In the event of a dismissal, you usually do not have a clause, but make sure that there are clear agreements about this on paper. Most executives engage a labour market lawyer or advisor at this stage and I would always recommend that."

Finally, what would De Zoete advise professionals considering making a step to the interim business? "Make sure you keep up. Reskilling and upskilling are hot topics in this rapidly changing world for a reason. On average, an executive leader has only been in place for 3.7 years, so make sure you're always prepared for your next step. Coaching and mentoring are interesting tools and show your agility and willingness to be flexible in your way of working. Check whether you prefer a permanent or interim role. And in the latter case, Badenoch + Clark advises | LHH Recruitment Solutions would like to help you."