Interim Management in the Marine Industry

Interim Management in the Marine Industry.

What is Interim Management (IM) ?

Since the 1970’s, in large corporations it has become commonplace to engage an interim manager at times of need. By bringing in an experienced executive, who has significant experience in the role, effective management can be applied from Day One of the assignment.

Nowadays interim managers are engaged in a wide range of industries, large and small, as well as the public sector. They are particularly useful where a business needs specific skills for a set period of time but cannot justify the expense or commitment of recruiting a new permanent employee.

How can Interim Management be applied in the marine industry?

Whilst only a few companies in the industry are of the same scale as those indicated above, this is not a barrier to using an interim manager. Small to medium enterprises are able to benefit from the flexibility, wide ranging skills, and eagerness to add value in everything an IM does.

Marine companies are particularly vulnerable to variations in sales trends, squeezed profit margins, and transient staff. These and other factors make it more difficult to commit to recruitment of a permanent management level employee. They often have to decide between the risk of engaging a relatively expensive resource versus making do without.  

How does Interim Management work in practice?

Quite often a company knows they need additional resource to help them out, but are not clear on what they actually want the person to do. In other words, “we know we have got a problem but we don’t really know what it is!”.   Or “we know what the challenge is and we need somebody to focus on it, as of now.”

Good IM’s are:

  • Sensibly overqualified for the task, guaranteeing that more value is added;
  • Adaptable in their approach to new challenges, and looking at them from a different angle to the company itself;
  • Able to draw on previous experience and apply it as appropriate;
  • Amenable to fitting in with others around them, especially at times of uncertainty;
  • Independently minded, to cut through barriers and focus on results;
  • Flexible in their working hours, often away from home or on the move.

 In general, companies often need somebody to hit the ground running and to become productive with little or no settling in period.

Being faced with a number of variables and uncertainties, engaging an independent IM without delay can buy more time. Discussions about responsibilities, objectives, deliverables and timescales can take place in the early stages of the engagement.

Examples of how an Interim Manager can add significant value.

Operational line management or supervisory role.

  • An existing manager unexpectedly ceases to fulfil their role due to serious illness, resignation with little or no notice period, or even dismissal;
  • Alternatively, an employee may be seconded to a new role or project leadership within the company, requiring their day job to be backfilled for the duration;
  • To create more capacity within a team, enabling senior managers to concentrate on bigger issues.

Project and change management

  • Driving one off activities such as new product launches, business expansion, or relocation;
  • Implementation of new working methods, requiring processes, people and systems to be developed in a coordinated way in order to achieve results;
  • New IT and manufacturing systems, requiring strong working relationships with suppliers.

Strategic Review

  • Facilitating a pragmatic process of review and analysis, establishing new goals and objectives, and the all-important action plans for delivery.

How Is Interim Management cost effective for a company?

IM’s are paid only for the actual time that they work. This is usually on a service contract basis at a daily rate, and as such they are not required to go through normal payroll processes. The company and the IM can agree the number of days to be worked, including their regularity.

 So any cost comparison should take all factors into account, particularly

  • The normal salary for the role being undertaken
  • No requirement to pay Employers NI, pension contribution or other overhead costs
  • No payment for days not worked due to absence for holiday or sickness

The daily rate to be paid for an IM is generally greater than the total cost of an employee, pro rata per day, to take into account their experience and flexibility.

Evaluation of benefits obviously needs to consider what an IM can and should achieve, both financial and non-financial, tangible and non-tangible.

It is also worthwhile bearing in mind that an IM is not a long term commitment, unlike an employee, so the expenditure can be ended if the engagement becomes unproductive.

How can Blue Sky Marine meet the requirement?

We have extensive experience of how Interim Management works, combined with a broad understanding of the leisure marine industry. We are well placed to provide a service which is reliable, effective, efficient and – most importantly – meets the needs of our client’s business.

We have a substantial network of individual associates and relationships with other companies from which we can draw expertise as required.

As Director of Blue Sky Marine, Nick Hopwood has a broad range of transferable management skills, gained from working in fast changing and competitive environments, being driven by customer demands and expectations. He has held leadership roles at various levels in

  • Business strategy and change programmes
  • Customer service delivery
  • Technology projects
  • Sales management and associated marketing activity
  • Business critical engineering functions

Nick operated as an independent interim manager and consultant in other industries, for nine years before taking on a permanent role in a marine business in 2009. In April 2014, Nick chose to revert to a more independent vocation by establishing Blue Sky Marine.   Nick is also a commercially endorsed skipper and fully qualified Yachtmaster Instructor.

Nick is available to discuss Interim Management in more detail, and to help businesses consider if such a service could be beneficial, at no cost.