21 December 2012

Julie Quick, from the Consumer Interim Practice...

Julie, you’re a consultant in the Commercial Interim team... How long have you been with the firm?

I joined in May 2011 so I’ve been part of the Odgers Interim team for just over a year and a half. It feels a lot longer... in a positive way, of course! It’s been a very busy but enjoyable year – both in terms of working with my clients and candidates but also getting to know the Odgers culture and ethos.

What are the main areas you specialise in?

I specialise in placing senior interim executives across all management functions into the consumer and leisure sectors with a particular focus on food, drink and FMCG businesses. Key roles include HR, finance, sales and marketing, IT, operations, manufacturing as well as commercial and general management.

What kinds of clients do you work with and where are they based?

I work with a broad range of clients; from SME’s to global FTSE organisations. This is one of the best parts of my job as I am able to get an accurate overview of the entire marketplace and what the individual drivers are. They range from specialist businesses selling a niche luxury product in food, drink or travel to international businesses selling consumer durables, electronics, health, beauty and personal care products. In terms of location, they can be based anywhere in the UK but are also often overseas. I have clients across Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, the US and beyond! Some require individuals with relevant country experience such as having a cultural understanding or knowledge of the language.

How have the consumer and leisure markets shifted over the past couple of years?

The consumer sector in general has fared pretty well and it has maintained growth in some areas. There are, of course, always exceptions but given the current economic situation affecting consumer confidence – coupled with highly competitive and saturated markets – many businesses are actively still acquiring, developing new markets, focussing on innovation and new product development along with honing brand loyalty and their CRM programmes.
Having said that, the shift in the type of expertise that is required has been profound and it continues to change. CFO’s with restructuring and refinancing skills, HR Directors with strong employee relations, broader change management and programme direction expertise are all in demand as organisations implement transformation on a much wider scale. But - in equal measure - a focus on growth, investment in talent, processes, brand & product and consumer insight are also on the agenda.

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

Interestingly enough I’m seeing a real variety of roles which is encouraging but the consistent theme is “change”. Rarely are there requirements for “business as usual” positions. So, whether the Interim has a finance, sales, marketing, operations or general management background, he or she also has to be adept at adding value in a change environment; be that around rationalisation, consolidation, integration or growth.

And why is that?

The economic climate and recession have meant organisations have needed to adapt quickly in order to remain not just profitable, but in some cases viable. For many organisations, this has brought their cost base into sharp focus and has resulted in a need to reduce overall costs or maximise operational efficiencies. More attention to innovation as well as developing strategies, new markets or products has also been central.

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

I recently recruited an Interim Operations Director to turnaround a site in China for a large food group. One of the main challenges was finding someone with not only the right technical expertise but also ensuring they had the right cultural fit as the candidate would be located remotely in China.

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

Fundamentally by understanding my sector, the market and their associated challenges as well as being able to respond to them by using my own extensive network of both clients and interims.

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

My prediction is that it’s going to remain a tough market and therefore organisations and individuals alike need to remain flexible and embrace change. Markets are always shifting and each business will have its own unique challenges as a result but they key is to identify and then tackle them head on.

To learn more about Julie or her work, please do check out his profile

Categories: Consumer


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