Life as an Interim Procurement Manager
Advantages of Being an Interim Procurement Manager
There are considerable up-sides to being an interim procurement manager.
Although some statistics suggest that there are tactical interim management assignments out there which are more about maintaining a stable hand on the tiller, (perhaps during maternity leave or the unexpected departure of a previous incumbent); as CEOs have seen more and more change delivered successfully by interim managers, there's an increasing demand for individuals who successfully deliver substantial strategic value-add to clients.
The assignments are certainly demanding, but by the same token they're incredibly satisfying from a professional perspective. Post merger or post-acquisition transition, integration and synergy delivery programmes are good examples. Turnarounds or Transformation Programmes are too.
In a traditional line management role, projects of this high value-added nature punctuate all too often extended periods of time managing the "steady state". However, the converse is true for an interim manager. Just when things are settling down into steady state; you're handing over and moving on to a new client to deal with the next big challenge.
If you're used to relying on established support systems/networks that you've developed over a period of years, interim management may not be to your liking, but if on the other hand you're good at building high-quality professional relationships rapidly, the nature of the beast is that many seasoned interims enjoy being able to deliver demanding projects almost on a "back to back" basis. With this comes a twofold opportunity to improve the value of one's offering to the market; and the tax benefits of operating through a limited company. Furthermore, the independence that comes with being an interim manager means that you retain a substantial amount of influence about where, when and how you deliver the assignment.
From time to time you even get a welcome month or two "on the beach"; when you get a chance to "catch up" with things and take an extended break with the familly, to make up for some of the time away. It's at times like this, that you have a really good chance to enjoy some of the simpler things in life; like taking your partner to lunch and then picking the kids up at the school gates.
Disadvantages of Being an Interim Procurement Manager / Interim Purchasing Manager
The most obvious disadvantage that people expect with an interim management role is that of "job insecurity" because for individuals who have only known corporate careers, becoming an interim purchasing manager (or an interim manager within any discipline for that matter) can suggest a life of uncertainty. However, for those who have established a track record of successful assignments and built relationships with good interim management agencies, which of course can take time, many would argue that they've never felt more secure, than since they've become interims.
The working away from home that's often involved can take its toll. An interim manager must be prepared to take assignments that many would normally consider to be beyond "striking distance". This often means staying away from home for most, if not all, of the week, which can create some significant personal challenges for the family. For interim managers with young families it's less than ideal.
In my personal experience whilst my being away for five days was no substantial hardship for my wife, who's been used to me regularly working away, it noticably affected our children if I was consistently away for say the full four nights over a period of several months. Since my wife and I began to recognise the impact on the children I resolved to get back home at least once in the middle of the week, and where possible, to work from home for a day. Although if I roll in late on a Wednesday night it means that I don't get to see the kids until the next morning, it would seem that I need to do little more than just be there when they wake up on Thursday and then be home in time for a family meal on Friday evening and then for the rest of the weekend, for things to be substantially settled. Your own experiences of course may be somewhat different.
Clearly, where one lives can mitigate against these sorts of problems or exacerbate them. As an interim manager, being based in the Shetland Isles wouldh't be great for family life. However, being based say close to a air, rail or motorway hub, can put one in reasonable distance of a high proportion of the UK's centres of economic activity, and therefore make the lifestyle of an interim manager sustainable. The upside of traveling to assignments is that the family can have all the geographic stability that they want, and put down roots. Children's school life need not be disrupted and it also enables the development of close-knit support systems ready for when throws one of its inevitable challenges in your direction.
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© www .interim-management-purchasing.co.uk December 2012
“We would like to take this opportunity to recognize you for making an outstanding contribution to the SHELL Due Dilligence and Integration effort".
"Your involvement has been integral to the success of this undertaking. We recognize the importance of your contribution and greatly appreciate the work you have done"
"Thanks for all the effort re. the Shell integration. You have played a critical role in establishing purchasing in Europe....in many ways a pioneer. Appreciate the dedication".
Excerpt from the European Vice President of Supply Chain's "Applause" award following, the acquisition and integration of four chemicals plants from Shell and the over-delivery of targetted synergies.