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Time to reflect on 2018 and look forward to the year ahead. We are faced with an even more uncertain world with the continuing twists and turns on the political front, the now bumpy economic climate and the demise of a number of large businesses. We are used to dealing with change and challenges; from economics to politics and clients to candidates but this is uncharted territory.
The fiasco that is Brexit with its various connotations of remainers / remoaners, hard exit / soft exit, good deal / bad deal, etc. has divided the country. When you consider the complexities that include Trade, Customs Union, Legislation, Northern Ireland, Security, Education, Science, Energy, Farming, Environment, Healthcare, Transport and so on, it’s no surprise there are divided opinions. With no one knowing how this will play out and what the ramifications are likely to be, it makes planning extremely difficult especially when the view of stakeholders is likely to be split.
In 2018 there have been casualties, not all Brexit related but a reflection of a tough climate. The liquidation of construction giant Carillion early in 2018 with the accolade of becoming the UK's biggest corporate failure in a decade has put the construction sector under further strain. Interserve is hanging on by its fingernails having once been a £3.3B revenue business now worth c£15m. The high street is on its knees with a number of high profile collapses such as Maplin, Toys R Us, Poundworld and House of Fraser to name a few and many others struggling. Some of these businesses are being bought either wholly or in part from the Administrators which in turn is creating opportunities. Some businesses are embracing this through expansion of facilities and looking for bargain acquisitions. Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct business is now a multi-billion £ business and I don’t think this has been achieved from being averse to risk. It’s about seizing the moment but also ensuring that when these opportunities do come along you are in a position to act.
The rhetoric is a similar scenario of the last recession with worries of another but somehow this feels different. Brexit is fueling uncertainty and indecision. How do you plan if you don’t know what you’re planning for? Managing short-term requirements with longer term business objectives is proving very difficult as you can’t plan for the medium to long term with all these major changes afoot.
This is the very climate that fuels demand for Interim Executives. Organisations that don’t want to commit long term with a permanent appointment find a short term solution is often the answer. Many organisations need help with supplier management / rationalisation, customer service, cost control, planning, risk management and talent.
The interim market has additional complexities but paradoxically there are many opportunities. Changes in IR35 legislation continues to ‘frustrate’ the market and having been already implemented to some degree in the public sector, I’m not so sure how things will transpire should the same happen in the private sector. Public sector interims have been able to change tack and move to the private sector but if it hits the private sector, it leaves nowhere else to go.
I believe many organisations are taking a holistic approach to talent acquisition. In the short term, they require immediately available Interims to deliver short term objectives whilst focusing on a longer-term approach by taking a deep dive into business imperatives to create a total strategic plan that has clearly defined goals, but one that can be amended as needs change. Executing strategic objectives now requires an agile, responsive and flexible approach to meet the changing tide and businesses don’t necessarily have the internal capability or capacity to deliver hence the external help.
Interim Executives provide a service to organisations in all stages of their development and plans. It seems to me that now more than ever is the time for ensuring the mechanism remains in place for this to continue. This help is crucial to ensure survival and at other times growth. It is usually driven by the need for change, transformation, restructuring, turnaround, projects etc. requiring a professional to implement and deliver.
Organisations should continually be looking to improve and be more efficient. Ways of growing either organically or through acquisition, improving efficiencies, improving customer services, acting on opportunities and kick-starting change projects could all be helped along through the utilisation of Interims.
It’s interesting times and is making politics and business quite fascinating. There’s a lesson here in resilience, persistence and integrity. Businesses can learn from Theresa May’s approach which should be a lesson to us all regardless of your political affiliation. Sometime you have to dig deep, be resilient and stick to what you believe.
With an Interim population consisting of some very experienced, high calibre individuals, there is now more choice than ever with an increasingly diverse and committed professional possessing the tool kit to drive organisations forward. Now is the very time we all need to dig deep, push the button and take steps forward or run the risk of standing still or even worse, going backwards.
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