Interim Executive Service - It Definitely Works!

It’s hard to plan for the unexpected but ACOSVO’s Interim Executive Service aims to help. The service provides organisations with a qualified interim leader to support in areas such as bridging a planned or unplanned gap in leadership; managing a change project; acting as support to the CO or Board during a turbulent time; or in the case of ProjectScotland to providing leadership support during a merger.

 

We recently caught up with Paul Reddish, Chief Executive at Project Scotland and Volunteering Matters and Beverley Francis, Consultant and ACOSVO Interim Executive, to learn about their experience with the service.

 

 

What brought you to the ACOSVO Interim Executive Service?

Paul: I had previously received recommendations from someone in the ACOSVO network who knew I had this opportunity for somebody short term. 

I decided to look in to the ACOSVO service because I had used other ways to recruit people before with varied success.

One of the options I had was to use a traditional recruitment agency who would have charged me a substantial sum of money to find someone to fill this role. The ACOSVO service is a more affordable option without limiting the quality of candidates available through their network.

Beverley: I was interested in doing this because I wanted to develop my career as well as to gain experience of the Sector.


What did you hope to gain?

Paul: I wanted somebody who would come in and be able to keep things ticking over before the organisation merged with Volunteering Matters. I wanted someone who would be able to look after ProjectScotland during a significant and sensitive period of change.

Beverley: ProjectScotland were going through a process of looking into a merger with Volunteering Matters which I had previous experience of doing before when I was the chief executive in another organisation. I knew that it would be complex and challenging and it would require a certain level of leadership.

 

Did the service meet your expectations?

Paul: It exceeded my expectations. ACOSVO offered me an Interim who perfectly fitted the role as well as the culture at ProjectScotland and provided excellent leadership. Beverley was able to grow the organisation and helped move ProjectScotland along with things such as the merger. I believe she went above and beyond the initial job description.

 
Beverley: I believe one of the key areas in which I was able to support ProjectScotland was through leadership I suppose. I identified quite early on that a lot of things had perhaps stalled ahead of the merger being finalised.  I was able to provide the team with a roadmap for their merger with Volunteering Matters and support the development of the senior leadership team to help them work closer together as a team.




Were there any unexpected challenges, learnings or positive outcomes?

Paul: By going through the process with ACOSVO to ensure we found the right person, it allowed me to let go and allow Beverley to provide the team with the support and direction they needed during what has been an incredibly challenging year for the sector. It is incredibly important to have the right person fill the role for this to be possible.

Beverley: One of the biggest challenges was having to balance the huge potential for the organisation in terms of the development opportunities with the pending merger and all that entailed.

When you are an Interim you get very close to the cause of the organisation as well as the people meaning it is always difficult to leave and move on.

I have been able to get to know some people in the organisation now that I hope will be friends for life and are people I will always stay in touch with.

One of the things I have learned is that it takes time for people to trust you. When I came into this role, I think I was the third Interim the organisation has had. Which means people probably thought, oh god here is another person coming in, what will happen now and people had been pushed and pulled a bit. So, I suppose it’s very important to give people a roadmap even if it’s for a very short time.


What was your biggest takeaway?

Paul: I would have to say the biggest takeaway from having an Interim is that it definitely does work, it is a great option for people in particular circumstances. In my experience, the person that ACOSVO offered me was brilliant and did what was required for the role.

Beverley: I am always amazed about people’s resilience to respond to new leadership. I know the team have been very positive about my time at ProjectScotland and I am always very humbled by that. You have to continue to be humble as a leader, you can’t take it for granted. 

You will always need to win the hearts and minds of the staff as well as be able to win their respect, even if it is only for a short while.

I’ve also been amazed that despite the fact that ProjectScotland’s staff went through a rocky patch with lots of different leaders and change before I came that when you provide them with the right framework and confidence people are amazing and can just respond. People’s resilience and ability to bounce back is always boundless and I am struck by that and how amazing it is. It inspires me as well as hopefully me inspiring them.


Final thoughts?


Beverley: I have thoroughly enjoyed this placement. I believe Interim management works well and can add a lot of value to an organisation provided it is the right person at the right time which is extremely important. That’s where the matching process comes in to make sure they get the right person for the role. People should use Interim management it if they believe it is what the organisation needs.

Paul: The ACOSVO Interim Executive service is a great service which I would recommend to other people in the third sector.


For more information about the ACOSVO Interim Executive Service please see here or email services@acosvo.org.uk