Inside Perspective: “Why I Love Being an Interim Executive”
Insights from Holly Erlichman, Cerius Interim Executive
The disruptive shifts of 2020—including pandemic shutdowns that led to millions of people working remotely—have forced many employees to radically rethink their careers and work lives. So, it’s no surprise that experienced career professionals are gravitating toward new career paths, like interim work.
There are plenty of reasons why becoming an interim executive makes sense (including more control, variety, flexibility, and quality of life), but could this option be right for you?
During a recent conversation with Holly Erlichman, a Cerius Interim Executive serving as Chief Talent Officer for an executive staffing firm, we learned why interim work checked all the boxes for her.
What prompted your decision to become an interim executive?
When I started as an interim earlier this year, it wasn’t something that I sought out, but something that found me.
I accepted a full-time role with a consulting client in early 2020, where I expected to work until the company was sold. However, in January (2021), the owner decided on another direction, and I was out of work with no notice. My job and pay ended unexpectedly. I didn’t know what was next and wasn’t sure if I should pursue a full-time job or go back to consulting. Because of my recent experience, I was hesitant to work for one company, but I also wasn’t sure I could ramp up my consulting practice quickly enough to make a living.
What led you to Cerius Executives?
I had registered in the Cerius network a few years earlier and updated my profile periodically when I was looking for work. I didn’t know much about interim or fractional executive work, but I believed it might be a great alternative to standard consulting. In February, Cerius reached out with a role to consider. It was an ideal position—one where I would help coach a Sales and Marketing VP in an industry I was very familiar with (recruitment and staffing).
Why was taking an interim role a smart choice for you?
Taking this assignment for just eight hours a week was going to pay more than unemployment, plus I could test out interim/fractional work to see how much I liked it. Since the money wasn’t enough to pay the bills, I alerted Cerius that I had more hours available. Cerius produced the next project within a month, and I was well on my way, with full confidence that I could do this—and it changed my life.
What are the top things you love about being an interim executive?
For some reason, I always thought that having a full-time, salaried job (working for someone else) was more secure and less risky than being an independent contractor (in this case, an interim executive). But I learned from experience that by working for one employer, I could go from total security to total insecurity in a second—due to things outside of my control. As an interim/fractional executive, I could maintain multiple clients, so if one project ended, I could still have ample income. To me, that’s security.
Ability to Live My Purpose and Passion:
When I was trying to figure out “what’s next” earlier this year, I spent time considering what makes me happy. I learned that I truly enjoy helping individuals and companies grow and using the skills and experiences I’ve acquired to help them reach their goals more quickly than trying to figure things out on their own. Being an interim does this for me.
I have a diverse background and a strong interest in doing different things. I’ve always been one who likes variety in work, and being an interim/fractional executive allows me to do that. For example, I currently have four very different projects: coaching and guiding sales and delivery to help companies achieve growth; guiding the creation of a Talent Acquisition department that can scale for growth; optimizing processes through talent technology; and writing articles assessing contingent workforce technologies.
I can flex how many hours I’m working, and still make enough money to pay my bills, save and play. I can take extended periods of time off and I can work less than full-time if I choose.
What advice would you give others who may be considering becoming an interim executive?
I often suggest this path to people who are a bit tired of the corporate role and may want to explore something different while fully utilizing their years of experience. It doesn’t have to be full-time or even long-term. They may prefer project work. Interim/fractional work is not only a great transition, it can also become your next career direction.