INTERIM MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Our WIL members Management Angels GmbH and GroNova AG were thrilled that two female interim managers out of their talent pool were honoured this year. Marita Klafke, recommended by Management Angels, and Andrea Vogel, recommended by the sister company GroNova, prevailed in the structured and industry-wide selection process and convinced the independent jury with their successfully completed projects. The perfect combination of professional and personal leadership expertise led to outstanding results in both projects.
In the following interview you will learn a little more about how Marita works and her personal journey into interim management. Maybe also an incentive for you if you are toying with the idea of becoming self-employed!
Have fun while reading!
What are the success factors that distinguish you as Interim Manager of the Year?
Marita Klafke: That's not an easy question to answer for yourself. Perhaps to a not inconsiderable part Rhineland attributes, such as "Let everyone live!" I really enjoy working with people in teams, I'm rather benevolent, but very clear in my communication. I would also not accept a mandate that does not correspond to at least 70% of the range of tasks that I am familiar with. This is the only way I can delve deeper into the issues and work out solutions that will advance the organization. I must be able to do the task confidently and have done it several times. The health care industry is special, but after more than 40 years I know what makes this industry tick and what currents there are. Then I feel comfortable in the projects entrusted to me, make things happen and achieve good results.
How did you decide to become an interim manager?
Marita Klafke:I actually couldn't imagine becoming self-employed, but I wanted to leave the group where I had worked for many years because it no longer suited me. I then worked out my positioning for self-employment, back then specifically for the after-sales business. At first I worked as a consultant and then, more by chance, I took on an interim mandate. I enjoyed it so much that I then really got into interim management. I hadn't considered it before, but I was actually predestined for the interim job, since I very often took on projects in the group that others didn't want to do because of the complexity or the risk. Tasks have to excite me, I enjoy projects, where you can optimize something or do something completely new. For example, I restructured a medical technology company in the USA and led it to profitable growth.
How was your path?
Marita Klafke: I started with a mini-project and then there was a dry spell. You have to reckon with that in interim management and then you have to persevere. I started writing various target group letters and after a while I got answers and the first projects. Then I realized that networking events play an important role in getting suitable projects. And then you have no choice but to network intensively, even if you are rather introverted. At an association event, I met my colleagues Dr. Rottländer and Dr. Much who encouraged me to continue on this path. Through them I also got to know the Management Angels, who placed me in the project for which I received the award.
In your opinion, what qualifications should an interim manager have in order to be successful in this professional field?
Marita Klafke: You shouldn't stick to old habits, you have to be extremely flexible and constantly want to face new challenges. You have to know the needs of customers in your industry and keep yourself up to date on developments and innovations. You need a certain amount of curiosity and a soft spot for people, because you keep meeting a wide variety of characters that you have to take with you in the project. And last but not least, it is very important, as an interim manager, to have a high degree of assertiveness and to ensure stability, as you often take on projects in difficult company situations.
What was your most exciting project or the biggest challenge? What were the stumbling blocks?
Marita Klafke: On the one hand, that was my project at a large international company in the field of dental technology. My tasks were very varied here, as I was deployed in two core areas, product management and sales. I was given a lot of responsibility, which I was happy to take on, and the mandate was very successful.
And I am very proud of the construction of one of the largest corona test centers in Germany, for which there was no blueprint. Everything was new, the negotiations with the authorities, setting up all the necessary processes and hiring the staff. We ended up with almost 200 employees who could run 10,000 tests a day.
There are always stumbling blocks when you are perceived as a foreign body in the project. Then it is necessary to show special sensitivity in order to gain the trust of the employees. Sometimes it is difficult to get all the information, but this is essential to handle complex projects. You have to be able to listen well, also between the lines, in order to identify the stumbling blocks early on and be able to clear them out of the way.
What advice would you give clients on how to deal with an interim manager?
Marita Klafke: Right from the first meeting, the customer should make sure that the chemistry is right, because the expertise can be assumed to be of the order of an interim executive. Then the company management should communicate transparently within the company and thus smooth the way for the interim manager. Customers should know and have documented the tasks for the interim manager so that the cooperation has a solid foundation. In addition, there should be a specific contact person in the company who acts as a sparring partner in day-to-day work and who also ensures that the interim manager is perfectly introduced to the company.
Do you currently have a topic that you would like to discuss with an expert? Then take the opportunity for our free expert talk. Ms. Klafke is available to you as a sparring partner over the phone. Just get in touch with Léon Bergmann, who will put you in touch. We are looking forward to your contact!