Interim Executives: Filling Critical Gaps When It’s Most Necessary – Part 4

Interim COO/CRO: When the Best Bet Is to Exit as Gracefully as Possible

Interim COO/CRO: When the Best Bet Is to Exit as Gracefully as Possible

We got the phone call on a Friday morning. An interim COO was needed. Oh, and by the way—an interim COO was needed Monday morning

It was Friday afternoon. All hands were on deck. 

After a busy weekend of interviews, Mark was selected as the interim COO and started first thing Monday morning. 

We have a saying at Cerius: “If it were easy and simple, clients wouldn’t need us.” There was certainly nothing easy or simple about this assignment. The CEO was facing many challenges, including a mandate by his client that would significantly reduce his business over the next couple of years and mounting challenges attracting new customers. The business was running at a significant loss and had lost its direction in general. Last, but not least, there were pending legal issues to be sorted out. 

A few weeks after starting the assignment, the position transitioned from interim chief operating officer to interim chief restructuring officer. It had become rapidly apparent to Mark the company was going to need to make significant adjustments. Mark immediately put into place measures to reduce and prioritize costs to enable a restructuring of the business. He evaluated all options and provided a set of recommendations, with which the owner and CEO agreed. 

In short, they eventually would seek and effectuate a sale of the company or its assets. 

Mark interviewed and selected an investment banking firm. He identified, developed, and negotiated the sale of the company’s intellectual property (IP) to its largest client and transitioned the workforce to one of its largest competitors. Mark then guided the company through the bankruptcy process with the remaining assets. Mark was also instrumental with in-house counsel, negotiating a settlement and resolution of remaining legal issues. 

In the end, the owner was able to exit with a multiple of revenue greater than one—an outstanding result, considering the condition of the organization when Mark walked in the door. 

For Mark, it was just another walk in the park. For the exiting owner, the employees who retained their jobs under new ownership, and everyone else involved, it was life-changing. 

Lesson Learned: Interim COO/CRO

When there’s a hole in an organization’s leadership, the most likely outcome is those being led will fall into it. With the availability of interim executives, there is no longer a need to risk this happening. Gaps can only be covered for so long. Despite wanting to wait until they found the right VP of sales, the CEO had a great HR leader who brought in an out-of-the-box solution to immediately address their biggest problem: declining sales. Acting sooner rather than later allowed the company the breathing room they needed to create appropriate infrastructure, then hand the reins to the right long-term executive for ongoing leadership.

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