Interim management is becoming a more popular in Belgium. With more candidates choosing this career path, also the image is changing. The time that interim managers were merely crisis managers is gone.

He is not your average interim manager: not only has Vital Florus (56) seen all the continents on the globe, while he was competing in professional sailing races, he has also started his own cup cake factory, opened a restaurant in Antwerp and invested in projects in Brazil. After a career as an operational manager, he decided 10 years ago he wanted to become his own boss. The adventure attracted him. “It was the constant change that appealed to me most”, he explains in an interview with the jobsite  “The last 10 years I didn’t do anything against my will. My work feels like a hobby.

Break the routine

Vital Florus is just one example of the growing number of interim managers in Belgium. “It’s a trend that started in the Netherlands and now has caught on here”, says Elodie Picard, manager of the Interim Management Division of Michael Page. “We notice that there are many more candidates for the positions we offer than there were before. In my experience there are two kind of people who choose to pursue a career in interim management: some candidates see it similar to a temporary assignment, while they look for a permanent position. But there are others who pursue it as their career. They usually have a lot of experience and are often looking for a new challenge.”

Changing image

With an increasing number of interim specialists, also the image of the profession is changing. “The time that an interim manager was merely a crisis manager is gone”, explains Paul Verschueren, director of research & economic affairs with Federgon, in an interview with the magazine Knack. According to Federgon, the federation for HR service providers in Belgium, there is a greater demand for specialists with a certain expertise that companies don´t have in-house. “For instance, someone who can help them to set-up a new product line or to implement their business abroad”, says Verschueren.

Elodie Picard sees the same trend in the market: “It´s much easier to find a good interim position for specialised candidates, than for people with general management experience. Many of interim professionals we place work on high level operational projects. They usually have very specific technical skills. It´s not enough just to have general experience as a finance director, for instance. Companies want somebody who can start immediately, and can just do the job, without any training.”

More competition  

The increasing popularity of interim management as a career path, also influences the expectations of companies. “There are more candidates they can choose from, so naturally companies can ask for more value for their money”, explains Picard.  That´s one of the reasons why, according to a worldwide study by Michael Page, interim managers are expected to do more in less time, need to perform more complex tasks and are challenged more than before.

“In Belgium that also has to do with the increasing competition between interim professionals”, says Picard. “They are aware of how much their clients pay for them, so they want to show their added value, by doing as much possible in as little time as possible. Because Belgium is a small market, it´s extremely important to have a good reputation as an interim manager. That's why interim candidates are all well-educated, very experienced and trilingual. They can really make a difference for their clients.”

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