5 Trends Expanding the Need for Interim Executives Now

Even before the pandemic forced businesses to be more nimble and forward-thinking than ever before, the need for interim executives had been growing. In 2020, we asked 600+ execs to shed light on interim roles, a comprehensive survey that covered the who, what and why behind the growth of this category. And now as the world is finally defeating COVID-19, businesses are continuing to adapt and re-strategize with a new set of challenges, only amplifying the need for experienced, “make it happen” interim executives even more. 

To better understand how the current marketplace is dictating the need, we conducted a follow-up survey, asking 125 executives to answer the same question: What trends do you anticipate having the greatest effect on the interim specialty in the year ahead?” 

Interim Management Trending Up

Across both surveys, the conclusion was clear: interim executives are needed now more than ever. 71% of respondents see opportunities for interim management trending up and another 21% seeing they will remain stable throughout the coming yearHere, we break down the five reasons why more organizations are drawing on interim executive leadership:

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Great Interim Executives Are Partners

When smart owners hire managers with the intent of working together for a long time, it’s easy to call their relationship – if it works – a partnership. It’s not a partnership in the legal sense and it’s not a partnership in the investment sense, where partners share costs and gains. But in great working relationships between employer and employee, each looks out for the other. Each invests to build and maintain a good relationship and share the gains of working well together and advancing the mission and economic and social health of the organization.

The problem with rampant outsourcing is that it leads to thinking on the part of employers and contractors that relationships are reduced to a transaction. Pay me x and I’ll perform as ordered. Stop paying me and I’m gone. The logic is the same whether it’s one contractor or ten thousand. While it is transactional in the letter of the contract, it is not in the spirit of one. The danger of a purely transactional mindset is that loyalty goes out the window. Loyalty from a boss to an employee and loyalty from an employee or manager to the organization. In organizations with a strongly transactional bent you can bet that any corporate talk about integrity is a watered-down concept at best.

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How a New Platform is Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution (And Will Forever Change Your Contracts)

Many company owners and board members are familiar with some aspect of litigation – or at least the threat of it. The paperwork, the Zoom calls, the meetings, hearings, depositions, the back and forth, the cost—democracy might promise a jury of our peers and having your day in court, but adjudicating a dispute the traditional route is for many, impractical, long, and expensive.

Shutdowns during the pandemic made that point all the more clear. Since the start of COVID-19, the volume of disputes has increased by more than 65% for companies over $1 billion, 50% of in-house legal teams are being pressured to spend less, and 75% of corporations want new preventative dispute mitigation procedures.

“The first question is never, ‘What is every single thing we can fight about?’  The first question out of any executive’s mouth is always, ‘This is a distraction—how quickly can we get this done and behind us?’ says attorney Rich Lee, whose 15 years in the field include general counsel roles at Livevol and Civis Analytics, a data science company stemming from Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “Nobody, when you’re on the business side, ever relishes that dragged-out fight in any form.”

That’s why Lee teamed up with two fellow general counsels and a legal operations exec to form New Era ADR, a private arbitration and mediation platform rooted in efficiency, transparency, experience, and innovation. He says their process is 90% faster and up to 90% cheaper.

“Anytime there’s a potential dispute, it’s a massive distraction,” Lee says. “It costs the company a lot of money, a lot of time, and frankly, I think the worst part that’s immeasurable is that attention that you end up devoting to navigating a potential dispute. You could be in a sales meeting and you’ll be thinking about that dispute. It’s our firm belief that it just doesn’t have to be that way.”

We spoke with the New Era CEO and co-founder about the intricacies of arbitration vs. mediation, how to de-risk your transactions, and the best ways to protect yourself from arbitrary outcomes.

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4 Winning Strategies to Add Value to Portfolio Companies

“For private equity funds, the clock starts ticking the second you sign, the second you own your new portfolio company. So the Holy Grail is: how do you add superior value?” That’s how InterimExecs CEO Robert Jordan helped kick-off a recent panel about adding value to portfolio companies. Sponsored by InterimExecs and hosted by Private Equity Career News publisher David Toll and John McNulty’s Private Equity Professional, panel experts shared best practices for value creation.

On the panel were Jordan, Micah Dawson, vice president of Portfolio Support at Trivest Partners; Pericles Mazarakis, managing partner of TriSpan; and Mike Zawalski, an InterimExecs RED Team member who serves in executive chairman roles with PE backed portfolio companies. Here, we round up the top insights from the panelists, everything from the importance of monthly operation reports to establishing trust with the business owner and investing in human capital.

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Why Every Company Needs a Technology Roadmap

Whether your category is eCommerce, automotive, health care or anything in between, to stay ahead in today’s marketplace, every company now has to also double as a technology company. The role of technology in business impacts everything from website user experience and cybersecurity to inventory management and data reporting, each vital in helping a business scale and succeed more efficiently.

“Most companies can and do manage their money and people, which is a necessity,” says Chief Information Officer (CIO) David Mitchelhill. “But unfortunately, quite often they abstain from understanding the technology, which is basically the IP of their company. If you think of a company as a building, the people you need to design the building so that it will stand up to every storm are totally different from the people who run it on a daily basis. Companies need to hire the architects.”

But navigating a force this disruptive requires strategy that isn’t just efficient, goal-oriented, and competitive, but flexible enough to adapt with rapid changes, too. So we asked Mitchelhill and fellow CIO Kevin Malover to break down the components of a technology roadmap, the value of an outsider’s perspective, and why staying agile is the key to success.

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3 Key Steps to Turning Around a Failing Company

Unless deemed essential — think banks, food retailers, hospitals, and pharmacies —there’s a strong likelihood that COVID-19 turned many companies upside down. Employees went remote, workforces may have been trimmed, and some businesses were forced to temporarily (or permanently) shutter altogether.

There were obvious first steps for struggling businesses, including taking advantage of SBA loans such as the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL), but stimulus packages aren’t bottomless and for many, bankruptcy appeared to be the only way out.

The effects have been devastating and seemingly irreversible, but as InterimExecs RED Team executive Yoav Cohen explains, “You almost always have a way out if you act quickly and decisively.”

We asked Cohen to break down turnaround strategies for businesses in crisis or distress and a step-by-step action plan to execute in our murky marketplace.

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The 4 Ways COVID-19 Has Transformed Sales

Engaging in person may have been the go-to sales tactic for decades, but COVID-19 has amplified what many in the industry have felt for years: Buyers and sellers want a digital and remote experience. No office drop-by, conference room pitch, or long dinner necessary. But it doesn’t just check the social distancing box. Adapting to an online sales structure makes for easier scheduling, cuts travel expenses, and can often be more efficient. And there’s no looking back.

According to an October 2020 McKinsey survey, more than 90% of buyers expect to continue with a remote or digital model even after COVID-19, and only 20–30% of buyers want to “ever interact with reps.”

Those kinds of numbers prove just how disconnected much of the industry is from the zeitgeist, explains InterimExecs RED Team executive, Philippe Lavie, who specializes in sales transformation and helps high growth companies more effectively plan, accelerate, and manage their revenue growth.

According to Lavie, selling in 2021 (and beyond) calls for a deeper understanding of the buyer, the seller, and just how drastically the marketplace has evolved.

Here, he dissects the four critical ways inside sales teams need to change in order to stay afloat and succeed in our new normal.

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Supporting Your Team Through Tumultuous Times

When teams struggle, it affects their productivity and the company’s bottom line. As part of a research team that evaluated the effects of another “Black Swan” event, Hurricane Katrina, I can draw direct inferences from those effects to the impact of COVID-19 and the time that it will take teams to recover.

We know how important this issue is because we hear the refrain from business owners and executives every day: You’re exhausted. Your teams are exhausted. And you worry that there’s far more under the surface, things your teams are experiencing  that they’re  just not talking about.

Chances are, you’re right.

Do you know whether your team might be experiencing these effects?

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5 Marketing Insights from a Fractional CMO

Contrary to the myth that good products sell themselves, behind every successful brand is a successful marketing strategy. The best products and services can fail to break through without a targeted marketing approach, especially in a time when messages blare at us from every direction, and consumers are highly sophisticated. If anything, there are numerous examples of superior products losing out to superior marketing. Companies that don’t know who they are selling to and how to message to them risk being lost in the crowd.

Marketing is part art, part science. While there’s no easy creative calculus, some basic principles can go a long way. The best marketing campaigns, such as Apple’s “Think Different,” are simple, powerful, and in retrospect, almost obvious. But there is nothing easy or obvious about crystallizing brand, messaging, and positioning. That’s why even the best entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, don’t do their own marketing. They turn to help from expert marketing professionals.

InterimExecs RED Team executives, Ray Smale and George McGowan, share the marketing lessons they’ve learned over their careers and when it makes sense to bring in an interim or fractional executive for a CMO or Chief Growth Officer (CGO) role. They emphasized the need for fundamentals yet cautioned that, amid rapidly changing technologies and consumer patterns, companies must be prepared to pivot.

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