Cuts prompt interim increase

24 May 2011

24 May 2011 | Lindsay Clark

Procurement managers are increasingly taking on interim roles because of the recent recession and prospect of government cuts.

Michael Campbell, head of executive sourcing at recruitment consultants PMMS, said that the combined effects of the economic downturn and public budget reduction had created an influx of senior procurement professionals seeking interim roles.

This has come after a particularly difficult time in the interim market, which was “very quiet at the end of last year”, as a result of a downturn in public sector opportunities, while the private sector remained “steady”, Campbell said.

Long-term interim manager Cary Rigler, who is currently head of procurement at the Security Industry Authority, said it was becoming more difficult to find temporary roles. “A number of folk in my network have been searching now for three or four months. These are top-drawer, quality people, and there just does not seem to be the business around,” he said.

Part of the problem was individuals trying their hand at interim work following job losses, he said. “If someone is made redundant, they may slip into interim for one assignment because the rates look attractive.

“Those folks are probably, at the moment, carving the market place up a little bit; they are not career interims, they are just in-between jobs and drop into an assignment and don’t have those softer interim management skills.”

He said interim management offered a rewarding career, but procurement professionals had to take responsibility for their own training, maintain a network of contacts and manage client relationships. Even when not fee earning, Rigler said he worked around 40 hours each week. “I do see this as a career. The procurement skills are a given, but client management skills should also be part of the technical attributes [of an interim manager].”

Campbell said that despite the current difficulties, in the longer term the interim market still showed promise.

“There has been quite a trend of organisations moving to using interims where previously they have been using consultancies,” he said.

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