Interim Executive or Consultant – Making the Transition

Making the transition to Interim Executive or Consultant is not for the weak of heart.

We have seen executive careers take many forms over the past decade.  Some of it was caused by economic changes while other times it was most influenced by personal changes.  Experienced executives have a number of options when making the next career choice from taking a full-time position, retiring, focusing on board work or going independent as a contingent executive (ie. interim executive, management consultant, advisor or coach).

Interim Management Consultants Who Transition

As much as each of these decisions seemed independent of the other, over the past ten years, we have witnessed executive careers as more fluid, interchanging and often overlapping between these options. At Cerius, we work primarily with the executives who want to work on a contingent basis/independently. We often get a number of questions surrounding what that career choice looks like, what an executive can expect and how an executive transitions to this type of work.

In our experience, there are three common scenarios we see executives transition to this type of work:

The Swap

An executive’s career and decision to not take a full time role can often be as seamless as transitioning from a W2 to a 1099 in your current role with a reduced scope of responsibilities while actively seeking similar types of roles to diversify your source of income.  The case may also be as easy as working with other companies in your industry. In some cases an investment firm purchased the company you are working with and as your position winds down they may decide to bring you in as an Interim Executive to another portfolio company they have invested in.  In most cases, you are able to transition your full time role to defined scope activities with companies who are already familiar with you and your work.

The Change

Whether by choice, planned or unexpected, you are no longer in your full time role and rather than join the job seeker path you decide to try working independently. You have some or no work currently but are working diligently on building your network and hopefully a portfolio of clients.

The Cross Road

Similar to The Change but you aren’t quite sure what you are going to do next.  We see this quite a bit with executives who are retiring or selling their company.  Most of your discussions are more focused on whether to fully retire, do some advising or board work or find some other company owners who can use your expertise allowing you to actively stay involved in companies without owning them or being an employee.

What to Expect as an Interim Executive or a Consultant

As many independent executives can attest to, being independent is not for the weak of heart.  It not only takes a variety of skill sets but a cast iron stomach as well to roll with the ups and downs.

As much as we discuss the flexibility and life/balance this career can offer, there can be some challenges as well.

You are essentially starting your own business. You are now responsible for your own business development, marketing, sales, IT, operations, accounting and finance. In many cases, you are now your own administrative assistant and travel agent.  Fortunately, given the technological tools now available, this is much easier than it was a decade ago.

Some of the more challenging aspects can be developing your portfolio of clients and the various demands and challenges each client will bring.  An executive building you business with little or no base can expect it to be at least a year before you have enough quality clients to provide a reasonable source of income.  At the time of this book, the average pay for a management consultant is just under $100,000 a year. Since interim executive and management consulting work is intended to be temporary, a big part of your focus should be continually building your business.

For more insights on why executives choose to be an interim executive or management consultant read, “Is Being An Interim Executive Right For You.” Need link once published.

Make sure to check out The Independent Executive Infographic

About Cerius Executives

As one of the largest North American providers of contract executives for part-time, temporary, interim and consulting assignments, Cerius has a network of thousands of executives from Operations, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, IT, Engineering and Human Resources. These executives are available to step into companies on short notice to fill a sudden gap in leadership, to run a key initiative, or to provide specialized skills and knowledge for a temporary period of time. Cerius serves clients of all sizes from virtually every industry. Cerius is headquartered in Irvine, California.

To learn about how Cerius Interim Management can help you, please visit our home page by clicking here.

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