31 October 2012

Perspective talks to Chris Jones in the Commercial Interim Division within the Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure Practice...

So, Chris, you’re a consultant in the Commercial Interim Division within the Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure Practice team... How long have you been with the firm?

I have been with Odgers for three years. I initially joined the Wales Practice for a year before transferring to the Interim Division in 2010.

What are the main areas you specialise in?

I work within the Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure Team but I have a particular emphasis on the automotive sector, the transport sector which includes rail, aviation and shipping as well as the minerals & mining sector. I also have geographical responsibility for Wales as I live in Cardiff so I split my time between our London HQ and the Cardiff office.

What kinds of clients do you work with?

I work with a wide variety of business including some of the major transportation groups like First Group and Virgin as well as many automotive components manufacturers and OEMs such as Jaguar Landrover. At the other end of the market, I also work with many SME’s throughout Wales so this varied portfolio gives me a fantastic insight into how businesses at all levels operate.

How has the market shifted over the past couple of years?

There has certainly been an influx of candidates from the permanent sector into the world of interim. This has meant that the pool of candidates is less well defined and it has become more of a ‘buyers market’. The knock on effect has been a slight depression of day rates as candidates cut their fees to make themselves appear more attractive. I’m pleased to say that it’s not all negative though as many of these candidates are high calibre entrants to the interim arena.

What sort of roles are you seeing most of at the moment?

I’ve been very busy supporting the train operating companies of late with their various franchise bids. It’s been interesting to see how the recent fiasco with the DFT has panned out but the real impact will only become clear over time. The automotive sector has also been very active - especially for companies which are in the supply chains of the premium car manufacturers as demand for brands such Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bentley is really strong from emerging countries like China and India.

What's the most interesting role you have dealt with over the past 12 months?

One of the more interesting roles I’ve filled recently was the Interim Head of Commercial for High Speed 2. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the project and it was great that we were involved at an early stage as the task involved the setting up of all the commercial contract frameworks around this £35bn project.

In one line... how do you think you add value to the organisations you work with?

I would like to think that I add value to the businesses I support through my ever increasing knowledge of the sectors in which I work. They are all dynamic so I have to keep learning and improving all the time.

What are your predictions for 12 to 24 months and do you see the market shifting?

I think the rail sector will continue to prove interesting with the current issues around refranchising and the continued controversy around projects like High Speed 2. Also, big changes in the mining sector will result from more M&A activity and I suspect the automotive industry will continue to do well overseas. These will all hopefully result in further opportunities for good quality interim professionals.

Do you have any advice for anyone who maybe looking for interim positions in your sectors?

If they are existing professional interims with a strong track record then I would encourage them to get in touch. If they are new to the world of interim, I would advise them to focus on their existing network, as this is where their current value lies and is where their initial interim assignments are most likely to come from.

To learn more about Chris or his work, please do check out his profile.

Categories: Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure


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