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Is the interim life for you?

By Rachelle Peard. Published on 9 December 2015

Taking on senior level finance interim assignments
 can be a highly fulfilling way of making a living. Applying your skills in a new environment and achieving a level of flexibility that it’s difficult to find elsewhere. But it’s not for everyone. We asked a panel of five seasoned finance interims about their experience and what advice they’d give to anyone considering becoming an interim for the first time.

What made you decide to become a finance interim?

Our group had all made a conscious decision to work as a finance interim after long and successful periods in more traditional employment. Ben Hill, for example, had been working for 25 years when he realised his experience working in acquisitions and disposals gave him a highly attractive skillset for the interim world.  He explained: “I felt there was a gap in the market for an interim executive with acquisitions and disposals experience as an alternative to the big firms”.

Tracy Wardle saw interim working as a way of developing a wider set of skills in new environments, while Donal Guerin wanted a new challenge in the third stage of his life: “I started as an interim and loved it! It was a mutual fit: I delivered real value to the client and I felt I’d found my niche.”

What advice do you have for anyone thinking of starting, or about to start, a finance interim career?

All the interviewees stressed the importance of being clear that interim working is what you really want to do, and that you are ready for it, both in terms of confidence in your own abilities and financial security.

For Donal that meant having the financial resources that give you time to pick the assignment that is right for you.  Emer O’Kelly also emphasised the need to be clear about the value you offer and not being panicked into choosing the wrong opportunity.

Alex Marsella recommended developing a series of stories while in your permanent role that will provide a track record of thinking “outside the box” and working in ambiguous environments.

What are the key benefits and challenges of the finance interim lifestyle?

Donal relishes the opportunity to work in new sectors, adding: “the more sectors you work in, the easier it becomes to transfer your skills to another assignment”.

Tracy also enjoys the variety that interim work provides and also the opportunity to intersperse assignments with family life: “I tend to do an assignment and then take a few months off for travelling or to be with the family”.

“You know you’re walking
into something that is usually 
an immediate challenge most of the time”, Alex told us. “But that’s part of the deal. You’re there to do a specific job and generally well rewarded.”

What makes for a successful
 and satisfying finance interim assignment?

Our entire panel told us the best interim assignments involve making a clear and measurable difference for a client rather than simply holding the fort. As Ben neatly summarised: “the best interim assignments have a clearly defined objective and end point. It’s much more motivating and clear.”

If you’re interested in becoming an interim finance professional or hiring one of our interims please contact Alison Rotundo, Jonathan Rose or Jonathan Stringer on 01753 303 600 for a confidential conversation or email: InterimFinance-EtonBridge@etonbridgepartners.com

Click here for the full interviews, plus seven key points to consider when making the change to interim working.