Who are the interim managers? What missions are entrusted to them? How do they carry them out? What place will they hold in the future in the business world? Discover the mysteries of a profession in tune with its times, guided by the concern for performance to be achieved in ever shorter deadlines!

France Transition1 has just published its annual barometer. The cumulative turnover of its members in 2021 – significant, since it represents approximately 30% of the global market – amounts to nearly 130 million euros, up nearly 8% compared to 2020. A trend which seems to be confirmed at the start of 2022. “The profession has been on the rise for a few years now”, analyzes Gilles Marque (MBA FT 87), partner at Actiss France and Africa, “a pure player in transition management”, which he co-founded in 2004 with Jean-Louis Fidric (MHRM 01). “Many companies, both private and public, of all sizes and sectors of activity, now use the services of interim managers.”

A method of managing business transformations

Industry remains the sector’s leading client, with 44% of assignments, ahead of services, at 28%. The share of relay management rose sharply last year, followed by project management. In times of health crisis, turnaround or crisis management missions have also increased, but to a lesser extent. “Companies that call on us are still often in an emergency situation,” recalls Gilles Marque. “At the very beginning of the year, the CFO of an LVMH subsidiary fell ill. We had to find a replacement for him very quickly, so that the 2021 annual “reporting” could be sent to the holding company on time. But more and more, transition management is becoming a way of managing business transformations: digitalization, setting up in a new market, moving from operating in silos to a matrix organization… or the reverse. »

Éric Lecoquierre (PGE 81) illustrates this shift. “After a career as a commercial director in the new technologies sector, exercised in large groups such as Thalès, but also within SMEs and then a consulting firm, I wanted to fly on my own. Since 2010, he has been carrying out interim manager assignments in “business development” based on the technologies in question. Pierre Crochet (MBA FT 86), also an Arts et Métiers engineer, successively held various fixed positions as “operations director/industrial director in large groups, notably at Arcelor Mittal, but always in project mode.” He then had no trouble adapting to interim manager assignments, a path he chose in 2017.

Specialized firm or network?

But how do you find these missions? Initially, Pierre Crochet simultaneously put two irons in the fire. “I activated my network but also contacted all the firms specializing in interim management to offer my services, clearly targeted and circumscribed, and to make myself known, referenced.” Well he took it. “Today my activity is split 50/50 between these two sources of assignments.” Financial market analyst, then “headhunter” in the field of life sciences, Valérie Augustin (PGE 87) joined Valtus, a major player in interim management, in 2015. “Whether it’s a permanent position or a transition mission, the heart of my job is to select the right profiles,” she says, now director of manager relations at Procadres International. But in interim management, we have much less time to offer the principal the ideal candidate.”

The firm’s action is not limited to finding the right match between supply and demand. “We establish with our clients very precise and complete specifications of what they want and support the interim manager throughout his mission.” What about the remuneration of this manager? “The daily rate that you will communicate to the firm will constitute your basis for negotiation, indicates Pierre Crochet. Then, depending on your current situation, the complexity and interest of the mission, its execution methods, you can adjust your financial proposal. But don’t belittle yourself! You will most of the time be oversized for the position to be occupied! This is the guarantee for the client of a rapid operational implementation. And this guarantee has a price. Oversized. The keyword of interim management has just been pronounced.

Seasoned seniors with a strong personality

“We offer our clients seasoned, experienced and high-level managers,” confirms Valérie Augustin. It is imperative that they evolve in their “comfort zone” in terms of business skills. Thus they will be able to focus on the necessary discovery of the company where they will work, the acculturation to its methods, the knowledge of the teams, all things essential [1] also to the success of the mission. Even slightly down, the average age of transition managers shows fifty-four years on the clock in the latest France Tran[1]sition barometer mentioned above. “This job requires maturity and serenity, says Gilles Marque before brushing with humor – but realism? – the composite portrait of the “fiftieth anniversary”.

The children left home, we got divorced, we got kicked out of our box, we questioned ourselves and then we ended up making peace with ourselves. So we speak with sincerity, we are more available to open up to others and still endowed with great energy!” Our man remembers his first “turnaround” mission: “I offered to lower wages, change the organization and “who loves me, follow me!” The formula worked! Valérie Augustin approves and moderates: “The turnaround missions require leadership but also composure and method!” This pretty word from the Greek “meta odos”; literally, the path that leads away.

An entire program ! “The current must pass between the interim manager and the client,” adds Pierre Crochet. “In my field, commercial, setting an example is a factor in team training, underlines Éric Lecoquierre. Most of the time, during my missions, I am in the field and I make sure that I sign a certain number of sales contracts myself.”

A profession in its own right, with a bright future

Does this “fusional” side, with the teams and/or the manager, lead certain interim managers to want to “extend the lease”? Éric admits having been tempted, once, to switch to a fixed position. “But I wanted to join, not just be an employee. In the end, the project did not materialize. Most of those who try the adventure of interim management take a liking to it. And chain the missions. Valérie notes that this independent status “corresponds to the desire for more flexibility from companies, but also from candidates.”

If its pool of managers is mainly made up of specialists, “it sometimes happens that we have recourse to occasional interim managers. Such an experience does not distract from a CV, quite the contrary! Gilles emphasizes the “qualities of interpersonal skills that must be demonstrated to carry out a project” and evokes “the intensity of each mission. We are in immersion, we have to think fast, act fast, it’s very exciting! An analysis shared by all. “Especially as the duration of missions is getting shorter,” concludes Pierre Crochet.

Today, you have thirty days to gain the trust of the principal as well as the support of your team and you must obtain results in six to nine months! Transition manager is a profession in the “era” as well as in the air! France Transition’s annual barometer indicates that 3 missions out of 10, within the scope of its members, are carried out by first-time buyers. The future of interim management looks bright. (Find out What a good interim manager is at Actiss Africa)