Focus on Energy Utilities & Infrastructure
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The sectors I look after are quite wide. Energy covers all of the types of energy provision whether it be renewables, nuclear, tidal, wind, and it goes into many more types of provision day by day. The utilities provide all of the domestic services that we get and infrastructure covers transport and construction. They have a very wide sector but they are all practical and very down to earth.
My view has been that I need to know lots of good interims and spot the very best talent for people. The kind of roles they are filling are board, and senior manager level. And really it's not about gap filling, it's more about turn around change management and project management, so providing people for periods of time who can really elicit change. We've also tried to form real partnerships with our clients and I've had a significant relationship with Centrica for about six years. I like my sector because they're really practical and down to earth, and actually they're really important for people nowadays. We have got to stop the lights going off.
I enjoy the job because it's all about people and it's all about relationships not just with clients but particularly with interims. I've probably got a central core of 200 to 300 interims that I know really well, some of them I've placed four times, and you get to know people extremely well after that period of time, which makes it very different from an exercise where perhaps some of our competitors will send forward a shortlist of six or seven people and they may not have met those people. I know these individuals, and I want to match people on the basis of chemistry where I can, where I think people will get on with people. I also spend as much time as I can with clients, understanding their businesses and trying to understand the way they tick then we can really add some value to the work we're doing.
There have been many successes over the years. Many of them actually come from real strong relationships which have been built up and partnerships. When we get the opportunity to work with clients on a repeated basis, often we can get very close to understanding their business and then we can add real value to them. On individual cases, there have been people who've turned around companies actually stop them going to the wall. There have been lots of upsizing and downsizing of companies. Particularly the downsizing have to be done sensitively and professionally, and many of the people who've done it are really proud of the way they've worked. And I've had people who've gone in and developed new products, developed for example a gas boiler that will generate electricity back to the grid. That's a major problem that has actually taken 200 years for engineers to solve. Actually they've cracked the problem of the Stirling engine eventually and that was really useful. And I saw it actually in practice in a house in the midlands which was wonderful.
I don't think there's any such thing as a typical client. Some know something about interim management, many don't. And you have to assess quite quickly whether people really are on board with the concept of interim manager. Some people see them as posh temps and they are not. They are professional people who've moved away from, perhaps a corporate world. Often they've been drawn in because they're actually sick of corporate politics. They are sick of pushing paper but they really like achieving things and after six or nine months, they like to put their arm in the air to say, "I did that. I've achieved that." But there are people who are able to assess a business situation, put together a plan to get the company out of it, and then roll up their sleeves and deliver that project through the people in the business. I guess that's what differentiates it from pure consultancy. A typical assignment is about change. And probably eight out of ten assignments extend when people realize the value that interims are bringing into their business.