Guest Blog: Ships that pass: the privilege of interim

This guest blog is brought to you by one of our placed interim executives who reflects on her time working with CVS Inverclyde in 2019. 

"I truly loved my placement and as others have said, I think I learnt a great deal from the excellent colleagues who were incredibly welcoming and kind."


My first interim role (for ACOSVO) has been a fantastic experience and I would like to share a little about it with you.  I have spent from August to October working with the wonderful CVS Inverclyde, based in Greenock.


I am sure most of you know that there are at least two types of interim, one being the person who is brought in to ‘sort things’ in the light of a problem and get the ship straight again prior to a new CEO being appointed.  The second is about a hand on the tiller and keeping things moving until the new CEO arrives.  I was pleased to start off with the latter, a great organisation with lots of ideas and a CEO moving on because a great opportunity had come their way.


When I attended my first staff meeting, I made it clear that I was there to work for the team and the board, and that is the way I tried to keep things.  The team needed a lot of support and reassurance as the departing CEO had been there a good few years and this kind of change can be a bit unsettling.  I made it clear that my role was to keep things moving, make the decisions that can ensure that its business as usual, help with the permanent recruitment and ensure that everything the new CEO needs is there and ready. 


I also felt it was important to prepare the team for change and just jiggle things a little to maintain that expectation.  It’s not an interim responsibility to create new roles or change structures unless the board have asked for this, but with a part time interim role, I felt that some temporary changes to delegate some line management would help team members to feel supported.  So, I put people into ‘huddles’ with senior staff keeping an eye on others and making sure that everyone got the day to day support that they needed and making it clear that this was a temporary arrangement and the new CEO would be making any decisions about the future. 


In the time I was in charge, we had a charity walk, an annual conference, AGM, board elections and annual accounts and reports to deliver, so it was pretty busy!  All those things required a lot of teamwork and support, particularly because I had no background with the organisation, so it was a great opportunity to work together and for some of the team to be more involved than they might have been in the past.  All of this would have been very tricky without having an excellent No.2 person in place, who knew everybody inside and outside of the organisation and was able to give me context and keep things on track.


As you go along in an interim, you must remember that you will be leaving and not to ‘fall in love’.  It was a huge pleasure to work with the people and to learn about the work that they are doing, and to be in another part of Scotland for two days a week, seeing its lovely sights and spending evenings strolling by the river.  My greatest pleasure apart from getting to know the team, was to assist the board in recruiting an excellent new CEO who I spent some time with before I left and who I know will be brilliant, and different, which is just what they need.


An interim CEO helps to prepare the team for change, and this should be one of the significant aims of the work, I believe.  Working with the board and giving them confidence that the organisation is in safe hands is crucial, as is identifying any key risks or challenges that might be coming up soon.


I truly loved my placement and as others have said, I think I learnt a great deal from the excellent colleagues who were incredibly welcoming and kind.  I also leave as a firm Greenock Morton fan!


Annie Mauger-Thompson


Comments from CVS Inverclyde:


We knew from the moment we met her that Annie was the right person for the job. She understood instinctively the position of the board, that we wanted a steadying hand to reassure and bolster staff morale during a time of change.  She kept the board updated with just the right amount of information, helping to facilitate the recruitment and induction process for our new CEO.  Although we are sorry to see Annie go, we are looking forward to an exciting year ahead, with changes to our premises and our new CEO.

Laura Reilly, Vice-Chair, CVS Inverclyde


"As a new CEO, the support and preparatory work provided by Annie during the period before I was in post and as part of a handover during the first few weeks has been truly invaluable.  Annie was able to not only support the staff team and provide me with strategic insight but in practical terms, she also enabled me to "hit the ground running" by providing practical support with operational matters.  I'm truly grateful to Annie for laying the foundations for my new role and to the Board of CVS Inverclyde for having the foresight to use ACOSVO's Interim Service".

Charlene Elliott, Chief Executive, CVS Inverclyde