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In retrospect

Five good reasons a maritime business needs an Interim Manager


There are more than five good reasons that a business in the maritime sector needs interim managers, but we think these are the top five. Interim managers shouldn’t be confused with contractors or temporary staff, and are best considered as a solution to a business management problem. An interim may well be overqualified for many positions, so there’s no need for training or familiarisation. They can usually begin work straight away and be on site quickly anywhere in the world. Because an interim is only used for relatively short assignments there are no issues with vested interests, office politics or cost-hangovers.

If you work in the maritime sector, your business is probably in a state of change. In the wake of recent global events, 'Brexit' among them, considerable ‘uncertainty’ abounds. Managing that uncertainty now requires any business to be nimble, flexible and adaptive. Even if you ignore ‘uncertainty’, your business is always going to struggle with cost, capacity and the competition. You could well need short term help to deal with any one, or all three, of those ‘C’s…

1.    Lack of resources

Sometimes a business just needs the senior management capacity to deliver a project that otherwise doesn’t exist within the business. Such a situation may well be a temporary problem, but nonetheless a business can be quickly bruised if clients suffer, or staff become badly affected. If there’s little need to appoint somebody on a permanent basis but help is certainly needed, then an interim can help ensure that a key project is delivered on-time and on-budget, without any nasty surprises.

2.    Change

‘Change’ management is a common use for interim managers, particularly when new investment occurs. ‘Change’, such as a new corporate acquisition, merger or restructuring programme or the integration of vessels into a fleet, the disposal of assets or a new sales programme, are all potential areas that are well suited to the use of interims. An interim can be highly effective for a business undergoing restructuring, the deployment of new systems or where ‘trust’ issues may exist. In such situations, an interim can propose, plan and implement a strategy to move the company towards its goals. 

3.    To cover employment gaps

Recruiting, particularly at a high level can be time consuming. The hiring of an interim manager can give a maritime business some ‘breathing space’ during the recruitment process for a permanent executive, or to cover a prolonged but temporary absence. An interim enables a business to maintain management capacity while the search is on, to make sure that the right executive gets hired first time, rather than someone being hired in a hurry and turning out to be the wrong person. With knowledge and experience, interims can hit the ground running and then hand over the project when the new permanent appointment has been made or a manager returns to the business.

4.    Crisis

An interim manager can be used at a time of crisis, either to help manage a situation directly or manage day-to-day activity while internal managers get on with managing a crisis such as a major maritime incident, a failing service or business. An interim can also act as another ‘non-executive director’ and offer expertise to an otherwise struggling management team. This could just mean bringing sound management practice or just plain common-sense to a business that’s lost its way. An interim can help smooth issues that have arisen because of poor management, such as problems with internal managers and staff, commercial relationships or broken contracts. 

5.    Cross-sectoral expertise

Many maritime businesses can take advantage of the specialist cross-sector skills that interim managers can offer to develop new services or products. For example, any business thinking of developing a new revenue stream, bringing in a sectoral expert for a short period may be just the right solution. Hiring someone who has ‘done it before’ just makes sense when you do so for defined periods and with defined outcomes in mind. 

The hiring of interims isn’t limited to senior executives and they can be utilised at every level of a business for a variety of tasks or projects and even to benchmark incumbent executives. While each interim has their own individual skills and talents, it is their flexibility and ability to help extract cost that makes them such an attractive option.


Simon Beechinor