Manufacturers increasingly turning to interim managers

Posted on 24 Oct 2013 by Tim Brown

With an estimated 820,000 more science, engineering and technology professionals required in the UK by 2020, the Interim Report 2013 shows signs that industry is now turning to interim managers to fill its skills gaps.

The latest research from leading interim management and executive recruitment company Executives Online show that interim managers are more likely to be on an assignment and feel busier than they did two years ago. Almost two thirds of UK interim managers surveyed are on assignment, with 37% of them working in full-time contracts and 15% on part-time placements.

In 2011, only 53% of interim managers were on assignment, with 29% of them working in full-time roles. Interim managers are top-level executives or project managers capable of adapting to new environments and delivering results before moving on to the next assignment. They provide a flexible and strategic labour force, which can be turned on and off to suit an organisation’s exact requirements.

The UK’s interim management sector is the most established of its kind in the world – worth £1.5bn per year. Today, an increasing number of business leaders are seeing interim managers as a cost-effective solution to their problems. The sector has grown by 93% since the pre-recession levels of 2006. Over 20,000 interim managers work in the UK today – many in the manufacturing sector.

“As the economy progresses, the interim management sector is fast to pick up, given the flexible resourcing option it provides,” said Jason Atkinson, chairman of the Interim Management Association. “Interestingly, we are also seeing a number of organisations bringing interims in with a view to making a particular job permanent – companies are ‘testing the water’, and then creating the long-term definition around a role.”

Interim management case study

Mike Harvey has worked in the pharmaceutical and bio-tech sectors all of his life. Today, he works as a consultant and interim manager, a lot of his placements are through life sciences specialist, RSA Interim. He is passionate about the sector and believes that interim management brings real value.

He comments: “I have worked in various sizes of business across the sector and bring a real breadth of experience to the roles I work in. As an interim, I hit the deck running and offer a second set of ‘experienced’ eyes.

“When it comes to manufacturing, the key issues are around quality and cost control. I work with companies to ensure they are adhering to lean processes and to check they are using the right tools. They need to ensure they have complete control of the supply chain.”

In November 2012, Mike was approached by Menarini Biotech, the biopharmaceutical arm of Italian pharmaceutical major, Menarini. They were about to initiate a new business strategy based on a mix of third-party contract work balanced with a novel challenging own product development plan, based on a new alliance with a biotechnology development company.

Menarini Biotech would be heavily involved in product supply from refurbished facilities for a series of product clinical trials. The site operations director of their facility just outside Rome had left the company, and because of the need to build and maintain momentum on these challenging projects, Menarini had decided to deploy an interim operations director whilst the search for a permanent staff member was carried out.

Mike joined Menarini Biotech and managed the completion of the facility upgrade to plan, oversaw the process development phases for the first -party manufacturing contract and the early development work on the first clinical trial candidate. He also assisted the company CEO with a strategic review of organisational strengths and weaknesses, where his prior experience of similar organisations was invaluable and confirmed the need for improvement actions and restructuring in a number of areas.

He also helped with the recruitment of the permanent operations director, handing over seamlessly to that individual when they started work in May 2013.

Andrew Slade, Menarini Biotech’s CEO, commented: “Mike’s involvement during such a critical time for the business was invaluable, and his legacy remains. There are times when interim support is the only viable resourcing option.”