Archive for October, 2007

Is Domain Expertise Overrated? Who Wants More Kool-Aid?

Posted on October 21, 2007. Filed under: alternative staffing, Executive staffing, interim management, marketing resource management, On demand executives | Tags: , , , , |

Allow me to share a bit of introspection. In my long career as a marketer I’ve worked for eight companies as an employee, but I’ve provided services to over 55 different companies as a consultant or interim manager. Nearly all my employers and clients were in different industry segments or product categories.

So, when I see bios of executives who have for 25 years worked for three companies all in the same industry I’m astonished at their dedication to one industry. I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t get really bored though.

As you can imagine this introspective glance at my career got me to thinking (once again) about the relative value of domain expertise versus process expertise for an interim manager.

I can see the value of having experience within an industry sector or product category if one is attempting to work for another company in the same field. Really, I can. However, I think domain expertise is overrated. I believe more companies when hiring a permanent or interim executive in marketing should put more weight on the leader’s process skills and relationship skills.

One of the biggest values an IM in marketing can bring to the organization is objectivity. If the person doesn’t have in-depth industry experience they will question everything and ensure that customer data and market trends are significant factors in strategic and tactical marketing decisions. This objectivity and current market insight is absolutely critical to off-set the tendency for companies to drink their own Kool-Aid to the point of extreme myopia.

A person who has been in the industry for a time is likely to believe they know it all and be eager to show the client that they do. They will also be very tempted to rely on “what worked for them at ABC Company.” In both cases objective, market-centric thinking can take a back seat when someone wants to showboat. Professional marketers won’t do this. No matter how experienced they are in a category they’ll insist on the latest customer data, competitive analysis, and market trends to help steer their decisions.

If you’re considering interim management to fill a gap in the ranks, to shore up skill levels temporarily, or to add one-time bandwidth look first at the individuals who have a track record of applying proven processes and marketing instincts to their assignments. It’s hard to go wrong with that type of experience.

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Daily Rates for Interims: Standards or a Floating Decimal Point?

Posted on October 16, 2007. Filed under: Executive staffing, interim management, marketing recruitment |

I’m frequently asked what my day rate is. I always give a range, because the rate I charge depends on many factors that I take into consideration to strike the right balance between value delivered and effort extended.

For the CEO who is momentarily frustrated by the non-existence of a “rack rate” for interims I simply point to the fact that salaries for CEOs are all over the map, too. Sure, there are published averages and ranges by industry and company size, but those ranges can be wide; same too with IMs.

For thought leadership and best practices one only has to look east from this star spangled land to our friends in the U.K. where interim managers are an accepted and widely used resource. 

A June survey by a leading U.K. Interim Management firm, Russam GMS, gives us a few data points to consider here in the Colonies. The electronic survey was distributed between June 2007 and July 2007 to nearly 8000 interim managers. It was completed by 670, or 8.4%.

Among survey respondents the average daily rate for a full-time engagement was £568 ($1,153) up 2.3% from a year ago. The average daily rate for a part time engagement was £618 ($1,255) up 9%.  It’s important to note that the survey did not break down the data by level of position (Director, VP, C, etc.). The survey was heavily populated with respondents holding IM assignments in government and healthcare, two sectors not know for lucrative pay scales.

Dennis Russell in his excellent book, Interim Management, first published in 1998, stated that a good rule of thumb for IM compensation is 0.75% to 1.3% of the compensation for a permanent hire. According to Russell’s formula an executive in the role of an interim VP position with a $200K comp plan would charge in the area of $1,500 – $2,000 a day (0.75% – 1%), and an IM filling a director-level position with an equivalent $125k comp package would charge $1,250 to $1,625 per day (1% – 1.3%).

These rates apply to interim assignments, say, engagements of 3 to 9 months. Anything less than that is more of a consulting project than an interim assignment and the rates you can expect to see will be as much as 50% higher. Volume pricing applies to IMs, too.

The best thing to remember is this, it all depends.

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    A Discussion of Interim Management for Marketing and Sales Functions by Charles Besondy


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  • About this Blog

    This blog is devoted to the topic of interim management for marketing functions within large and small corporations. Interim management as a staffing concept is well-understood and widely utilized in Europe. However, here in the colonies we are just beginning to open our eyes to the business benefits of being flexible and nimble when it comes to staffing senior-level marketers. (c) 2006 - 2012 Charles Besondy
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