After a twenty-year career on the ‘other side’ operating as a senior change practitioner and programme lead, Stephen Hunt joined Eton Bridge Partners’ Business Transformation team earlier this year just as the business regained its top spot as Number 1 Interim Provider in the Institute of Interim Management (IIM) Annual Survey.
With a proven delivery of change, Stephen previously led business operations, finance, risk, regulatory compliance, IT, and Financial Crime initiatives. Here he shares his thoughts on stepping into the interim provider market and responds to some of the themes which came out in the 2021 IIM survey.
Moving from client to provider
Having originally worked in traditional finance functions and then cross-industry in Finance and Transformation with Accenture, and then again client-side in FS with UBS and HSBC, I feel my background gives me strong credibility with clients. While I am some years behind my colleagues’ experience in recruitment, it’s been an interesting learning experience and they have been gracious with their support and responding to my many questions!
What surprised me about Eton Bridge Partners was the extent to which it is a real people and relationship-led business. From my experience, many organisations claim to be “a people business” and yet invariably are not! From the start, I received an enthusiastic welcome from the other partners and consultants, with generous offers of their time and advice. I was impressed by the long-term and authentic approach; with my colleagues encouraging me to get to know everyone in the business to begin with, given it is such a collaborative organisation.
Eton Bridge Partners has a fantastic culture and working environment; as well as being energetic and fun, the people are very knowledgeable and extremely supportive. Everyone has a desire to help their colleagues regardless of which practice area they operate in. Similarly, much time is spent supporting our clients and candidates with formal and informal advice.
Functional expertise with a wealth of knowledge
What I had not envisaged on the client-side was the high demand for our interim managers. Most firms I have worked with tended to have significant internal change functions, and resources within the business to allocate to change initiatives. I had not appreciated that many of our clients, while large (FTSE100/250, private companies) do not have this internal capability, and often, the level of change and fixed costs does not warrant it. Many utilise EBP, like a business partner providing high-quality talent to ensure the relevant change is executed with the experience and point expertise required. Additionally, with our associates ‘having been there and done it multiple times’, clients regard them as an effective way to de-risk delivery.
I have been extremely impressed with the calibre of our interims and their level of experience; our associates’ age range reflects that of the recent IIM survey – where interims “were mostly in their 40s-60s…with an average age of 54”*. This initially came as a surprise compared to the Financial Services sector, where the term ‘it’s a young man’s game’ is not unjustified. Our interims’ age profile comes with a significant uptick in skills and experience. It also reflects that many interims have made a firm decision to become career interims, after having a career at C-suite/ senior level for many years.
*graph taken from the 2021 IIM Survey report page 6
Interestingly the IIM survey results show the majority (58%) of interims work in ‘Business Change and Business Support’, and in terms of role profiles, most interims (67%) are C-suite and programme/project managers*, which aligns to our own associate network. The proportion of Board level roles (15%) shown in the IIM survey is also reflected in our own growing Board practice.
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