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Finding the perfect interim CEO

10 February 2011

Grant Speed, Managing Director of Odgers Interim is keen to point out that the interim CEO is rarely appointed as a babysitter for sickness or maternity leave. “Smart Boards and savvy HR Directors know that the right interim CEO can achieve significant returns for their business, where permanent appointments simply wouldn’t work.”

So why do clients choose to appoint an interim CEO? Grant explains that an interim CEO appointment will normally have a specific objective. “It might be instigated by backers – venture capitalists, bankers, the non-executive board or a group management team for example. They may have a business that isn’t meeting their expectations. By putting in an experienced interim CEO, they can quickly get a skilled and objective view of what is happening and see what can be achieved. We’ve seen numerous businesses turned around or restructured by interim CEOs who focus on what needs to be done from day one.”

“In other circumstances it can be about harnessing a temporary skill set. A start-up CEO might need very different skills and have different motivation to the CEO the business will need going forward. We have a number of specialist start-up CEOs who will get a new business up and running and then hand over to a permanently employed executive.”

Other examples of interim CEOs include companies taking a tentative step into overseas markets with an experienced CEO who can quickly help establish the potential at relatively low cost. Organisations responding to change in government policy, perhaps making the transition from grant funding to private sector also find an interim CEO can inject the energy, experience and ruthless focus required to reshape an existing organisation to meet new challenges.

Grant Speed says that the key to successful interim CEO appointments is understanding the objectives and finding the right match. “That’s where Odgers Interim comes in. We probably have the biggest pool to choose from and the closest relationships with our candidates. We know who can make a difference where – that’s our strength.”


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