A growing place for ‘The Visitor’

Vikas Verma, partner at X-PM India and WIL Group member, discusses the rise of the interim manager in India


The Indian corporate world is beginning to welcome a new type of executive – the interim manager.

Interim managers are board-level independent business leaders or project managers who work in a range of disciplines and sectors. They are experts in their field, strategic thinkers, and are quick to understand and put into action the decisions a business needs to make[1].

Throughout WIL Group’s global video outlining the role of interim management leading business executives refer to their purpose to ‘always get things done’, and to ‘help define better strategic direction’. Interim managers seek to take start ups into a less entrepreneurial phase – giving them more structure and process. And for larger organisations, they create disruption and value – a move away from legacy thinking, providing a fresh perspective – mainly because they aren’t caught up in the general emotion.

Diana Blaxland, a leading global interim manager specialising in business transformation, comments:

“In a world that is struggling with growth… there is a growing place for the ‘visitor’. A person who comes in to assist, has no intention to take any long-term stake in the company, but who brings an objectivity and experiences outside the knowledge of the senior people that are there and complements them. They give them a key to unlock something that has been locked for too long, perhaps a problem that has been on the boardroom table for so long that everyone assumes it can’t be fixed, and that’s for the interim.”

The modern practice of interim management started in the Netherlands in the mid-late     1970s, where hiring temporary managers seemed the ideal solution for issues surrounding large termination costs for permanently employed executives.

Today represents an interesting turning point in Indian business, with the use of interim managers now beginning to emerge across a range of sectors including defence, aerospace, IT, energy, automotive, manufacturing and pharmaceutical. These sectors have been in focus in the last few years as government reforms on allowing FDI in these verticals have led to good growth and upgradation of technology to global standards.

Why Interim Management now?

  • 10 years ago the concept of interim management was not so widespread.
  • The growth of business in India across the sectors outlined above – as well as others –  was rapid. And because of that ‘global’ has less of a focus than it does now.
  • Today, our domestic businesses are looking to ‘upgrade’ towards a more global approach, and in order to support this many are now seeing to brining in the necessary skills. Often these skills come from overseas, ‘visitors’ or heavyweight interim executives, and we’re beginning to see the emergence of more home grown.

Profile of a local interim manager

Mr K N Chandrasekaran (KNC) – has over 25 years’ experience in the   pharmaceutical and chemistry industries, working with organisations including GSK and Novartis.

In April 2017, he was brought in to help support the continued growth of the Indian operation of a global agropharmaceutical business.

During his time within the organisation, he focused on four core areas: culture, business practices, people and office relocation. He remains with the business today, and commenting on his assignment, he said: “The brief was of real interest to me, and I could see clear opportunities for creating and effecting change.

“For multi-national companies operating in India, interim management is proving to be an excellent concept. It is a relatively new phenomenon in India, and I believe more needs to be done to promote its value across the country. It enables companies to benefit from the knowledge and experience of executives – often coming from entirely different backgrounds and sectors. It’s win-win for everyone.”

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