You can sign up to our LinkedIn newsletter here
One of the groups that struggle most to make the transition to a Portfolio Executive workstyle are those who have had an extended period working as an interim.
Former Interims have much to Offer
Interim assignments can give you broad experience and a whole set of skills that you can parlay into a Portfolio Executive workstyle. Do former interims make great Portfolio Executives for the clients they serve? Absolutely! But for interims who want to transition, they need to be very clear about their motivations because the transition is difficult.
Being Clear about your Motivation
You may want to transition from being an interim to a Portfolio Executive because the number of fee-earning months a year has been steadily diminishing. The industry average is eight months out of twelve. Maybe you’re finding that the next assignment takes longer and longer to get and the average number of months of the year that you’re fee earning is reducing.
You may be finding that the intensity of interim roles is taking its toll. Always coming into a crisis or taking over at short notice is very demanding. Although you can learn a lot very quickly, and, although you are slightly arm’s length from the internal politics, it can become very exhausting. It may be the need to travel all over the country or across the world to deliver your interim assignments. Perhaps you hoped in a post-Covid world of remote working, travel would be less demanding, but clients are beginning to require on-site presence and you have reassessed what you want from your work.
It may be that you’ve got to a stage where you’d like to move away from working either full on or full off, to a workstyle where you can spend on average just 12 days a month fee earning and still have a very good income. You prefer to consistently do between 10 and 15 days a month rather than having a pattern of 25 days a month when working and nothing between assignments.
Working full-time as an interim and trying to develop your Portfolio Executive workstyle in parallel can become overwhelming. Ideally, you should find an interim assignment you can start to wind down from full-time to part-time, and finally a purely advisory role over a period. This requires an important shift in attitude and careful negotiation with your client. You need to plan from day one that, once the initial intensity of the interim role diminishes, rather than leave, you will agree an extended transition reducing the number of days per week in stages from five, to four, to three. Ideally, you then reduce to ten days a month, five days a month and finally establish yourself as a retained part-time mentor/coach/advisor.
As you’re making this transition, you can invest the spare time to build up your Portfolio Executive proposition. This will not happen overnight. You need to position yourself in a different way. As an interim you have probably found most of your work through agencies. Now you’ve got to build relationships with clients directly. You’re no longer applying for a job. You are demonstrating how you can create value for a business. You’re building a business case rather than just taking on a role.
Your LinkedIn profile needs to change from attracting interim agencies, brokers and recruiters. Now your LinkedIn profile is positioning you as somebody with skills, knowledge and experience developed over the last 20 or 30 years. It must demonstrate that you are the right person to become a trusted advisor to the CEO of a smaller organization. They need to believe you will take responsibility for building a function over time rather than just fixing the presenting issues.
So, yes, you can make the transition. Yes, it will give you a workstyle that is sustainable and rewarding over the long term. And yes, it will enable you to have a more flexible way of living. But for now, you have got to prepare the ground, so that you can either set aside a pot of money to buy you the time, or you can have an interim assignment which you intentionally migrate to part-time.
If you’re interested in exploring how you can migrate your interim assignment to part-time then we should certainly have a conversation.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a chat.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.