Interim executives are staying in their chairs longer

This article written by Lucille Keen was originally featured on the Australian Financial Review website on the 15th of July 2015. Click here to access the original article.

Interim executives are staying in their chairs longer

The use of interim executives has grown over the last five years, as has the average contract duration, a report has found.


The use of interim executives has grown over the last five years as has the average contract duration, a report has found.

The Watermark Search International, Interim Management Survey of 400 Australian c-suite executives found interim executives with contracts lasting between 1 and 5 months had increased significantly in the past year from 18 per cent to 33 per cent.

The percentage of assignments lasting between 6 – 11 months has remained consistent and there has been a slight rise of 6 per cent to 27 per cent of assignments running for 12 months or more.

The survey found almost 60 per cent of respondents gained an assignment within five months or less. However, the number of female interim managers continues to be well behind that of their male counterparts; 22 per cent compared to 78 per cent of those surveyed.


Sydney based Angelo Grasso has been working as an interim manager in an information technology role for almost four years.

He said during that time he has worked as an interim c-suite executive for three stints of more than one year and many roles were now potentially leading to permanent employment.

However, Mr Grasso said it was the ability to take risks and enter a company and effect changes that attracted him to interim management.

“CEOs are looking for a safe pair of hands to get outcomes without needing to hand hold.”

Mr Grasso said many of his roles have seen him offer mentoring to junior staff who have then been promoted to his role following the end of his contract.

He said the outcome-driven focus that interim management offers appealed to him and the flexibility suited his lifestyle.


The Interim Management Survey found there had been a significant drop in percentage of temporary executives working away from home this past year, going from 64 per cent in 2014 to 45 per cent in 2015.

It’s assumed this has been caused by the downturn in the mining sector. The percentage of interim executives willing to consider relocation remains fairly consistent at 80 per cent, compared with 88 per cent in 2014.

According to the report interim day rates have remained steady, with over 80 per cent of respondents seeking $1,000 or more per day.

Watermark Search International managing partner Graham Willis said the company had seen a dramatic shift in the number of interim roles this year.

“We’ve done as much work in the first half of this year for interim roles as we saw in the whole of 2014,” Mr Willis said.

“There is a growing appreciation from businesses for the role of the true interim executive. They can inject experience quickly.”

Mr Willis said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of interim executives positions in the New South Wales government as well as the services sector.

He said it worked well for some companies who were in the process of bidding for work but were unsure if they would succeed.