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Business News/ Leisure / Managing a transition

While the concept of interim or “transition managers" is well entrenched in the West, in India it is still viewed as “senior management temping". However, it provides an opportunity for experienced managers to add value, as an in-house consultant and implementer, I explain, as we attack the goat cheese salad.

More than a temporary filling of shoes when a senior manager resigns or gets hit by a bus, companies use transition managers as a way to manage a period of intense transformation or crisis when they require a heavyweight, experienced management resource, usually at short notice. Often, a permanent hire with the specific skill sets required in the transition may be difficult to find internally or indeed, may not even be required when the transition is over. Transition managers themselves are usually either functional specialists or experienced business leaders who bring experience and credibility to the consulting projects they manage.

Navigating crisis: Experienced interim managers can add value to the job at hand.

Now fortified with thin-crust margherita pizza, we tackle the questions he puts on the table. What were his motivations for exiting the traditional corporate career ladder? Would becoming a transition consultant address the need to tackle new challenges? Was he willing to operate as an independent professional consultant, selling his expertise? Would he be prepared to occasionally work a “level down" and ignore corporate titles? Was he driven mainly by the challenge of tackling complex, urgent projects rather than the more structured build-and-maintain corporate role? Was he able to quickly and credibly assess situations, build teams and facilitate change? Was he perceived as an expert to get enough engagements? Was there enough work of this kind to sustain him financially and professionally? Was he able and willing to take on intensive engagements at short notice? Did this address a longer-term need for flexibility to take on work that he wanted to, and spend the summer with his children in the US if he wanted to?

We agreed that the need for interim and transition managers in India was slowly picking up, and that this was potentially a challenging and financially viable model. We walked through the mechanics of setting up—he would need to set up a consulting company, work out a base consulting contract, sort out hygiene factors such as insurances, etc. For future engagements, he would need to reach out to search firms and network with the professional adviser network of lawyers and accountants. He could also sign up with an interim or transition management firm to have access to more opportunities, both in India and offshore. As always, the answers lie within. Tiramisu, espresso, and much food for thought.

Sonal Agrawal is chief executive, Accord Group, an executive search firm.

Write to Sonal at

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Updated: 07 Feb 2010, 09:47 PM IST
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