Thought Leadership Among Independent Executives
Bringing the experience and knowledge that comes from dealing with independent executives to you
A number of factors has caused an increase in former corporate executives offering their services to companies on a temporary or project basis. It can be debated whether these executives are part of a growing career category referred to as independent executives or simply joining hundreds of thousands of other small business owners. Either way, no longer does an executive need to spend countless hours working for the same company year after year, only to have most of the total accomplishments achieved in year one. Nor does a CEO or business owner need to spend months looking for the perfect candidate to fill a range of needs over the next couple of years to then have the executive peak within the first year or not work out at all. The speed of business in today’s market is pushing the need for quicker decisions, shorter timelines, and immediate results. There is no one-size-fits-all in the executive suite. As a result, we are seeing a shift from needing to own an executive’s expertise for a number of years to simply leasing expertise on an as-needed basis. We see top-level executives enjoying long and accomplished careers as independent executives.
We have been educating, advising, and placing independent executives for more than a decade. We often step back and wonder how two people who have never worked in a big four consulting firm or the staffing industry ended up owning an interim executive and management consulting company. Our experiences are from both the client and the executive perspective. We both come from backgrounds working inside companies in various industries at various stages of growth. We have worked side-by-side with CEOs and owners to grow their businesses. We have also been independent executives growing a business of one.
For Pamela, after a few years of consulting on her own, she joined forces with a few other consultants and started referring business amongst the group. After a while, two big challenges existed. First, when everyone was busy, there was little business development being done. Second, most were not very good at marketing or business development, so only a select few were bringing in the leads. In an effort to resolve these two challenges, a business was born. The company was the marketing and business development arm and referral source for the consultants. Not the only source, but a viable one.
Over the next few years, the company transitioned from consulting to an interim executive-focused company. The challenge then became a lack of familiarity with this term in the marketplace. It couldn’t even be found in any career drop-downs. There were variations, such as “Consultant,” or “Business Coach,” but never “Interim Executive”. The marketplace existed, and the need was there, but it never really stood out as a career choice. Years later, there still isn’t an option for it in a drop-down, but more than ever there is a growing population of executives who are working independently.
It is this independent executive whom we get the pleasure to work with on a daily basis and have now for a combined twenty years. Through these conversations, we have gained insights, seen trends, and counseled thousands of executives on the subject of growing their independent executive business. On the flip side, we have also talked to and worked with thousands of companies and business owners.
Based on this perspective, we end up answering questions from executives who are either actively growing their business or looking to transition. The conversations range from questions about how to position themselves in the marketplace to getting more clients. We have always been willing to share our experiences and knowledge. The overwhelming quantity and range of these questions are what prompted us to finally put it all on paper in one place and wrote a book, How I Fired My Boss and Made More Money.
This is not a set of formulas, but a collection of experiences, guidelines, and stories anyone can leverage and apply to his or her unique situation.
Whether an executive is considering a move to being independent or has been independent for more decades than they care to admit, learning never ends. As much as some may enjoy learning from their own experiences, it is always helpful when you can learn from someone else’s as well.
About the Authors
Kristen McAlister joined Pamela Wasley to purchase Cerius. She has spent most of her career helping companies establish and improve their infrastructure for high growth. She has grown companies and created optimal infrastructure from both an operational and client management perspective. Kristen has spent the last ten years teaching companies how to leverage executives for transitional situations such as high growth and turnarounds. She is a national speaker and is published on topics ranging from operations and productivity to talent management and the contingent workforce. Kristen is a mother, Ironman, and Marine wife.
Pamela Wasley is one of the founders and CEO of Cerius. She is a serial entrepreneur who has personally sold two companies and led a management buyout of Cerius. She has advised hundreds of companies on strategies for growth and higher shareholder value, served on several private boards, and is a frequent national speaker and is published on the topics of mergers and acquisitions, the workforce of the future, and global contingent workforces.