A Look Inside an Interim Shop in India

In India, as across the globe, interim management is less familiar than consultancy work. Sanjay Dwivedi and Ram Rao, two professionals who take on interim assignments in India, are o.k. with that.

Their firm’s Synergy division provides both consulting and interim management services, not unlike many executives who don’t rigidly define themselves as one or the other. Although the engagements involve different levels of involvement, many of the required skills are shared.

“At the end of the day, it’s what the client wants,” according to Dwivedi.

Dwivedi argues that their model is the best way of doing business given the climate, given Indian industry is not as homogenous as in the Western European and U.S. economies. A certain flexibility is required, he argued.

Dwivedi and Rao have focused their efforts on the Indian SME market, with most of their client companies under $100 million in market capitalization. They don’t just offer help for businesses in trouble, but early-stage companies in particular.

Overseas clients they take on have been more of a mix, but tend toward larger entities. (Dwivedi recently signed on in an advisory role with Pinkerton Security—yes, that Pinkerton—a subsidiary of Swedish firm Securitas A.B., helping to set up their Bangalore facility.)

“The most interesting tasks are where small industry is on the rise,” Dwivedi said, citing cases where personalized owner-driven techniques are no longer working and the company needs to transition.

The promise made is that a disciplined management structure can arise out of Synergy’s objectivity, Dwivedi said. Oftentimes, in that SME area, a broad-brush approach is needed. “Bringing in a CFO might work in the U.S., but here we need a broader brush. (The company generally) is not just needing one more cylinder to fire,” he said.

For somebody to utilize interim CFO implies all other CXOs are in place and functioning. Dwividi, a CPA, said management models often need to undergo a drastic change that interims can help bring about. The larger issue is not only about rate of growth, but the likelihood of funding.

“No one will look at them….They won’t be able to recruit decent people until the management model is changed,” Dwivedi said. “It is most exciting to join in this period when (the founder) is changing the business model. That’s when our value-added becomes so important,” he said.

Dwivedi and Rao are happy to provide consulting services when needed. But diving into interim management roles in a country that’s experienced rapid development, is a fascinating prospect.