As a client I’ve spent many wasted hours working through piles of unsuitable CVs looking for the hot prospects, delivered by an IM provider with often very limited understanding of my business or needs. As an interim, in pursuit of assignment continuity, I have sent my CV to many IM firms, met some of them, and in most cases heard nothing more. Building a strong personal network is of course important, and this has secured many interim roles directly, but few interims are able to maintain the currency and breadth of connections available to an IM provider.
The IM industry comprises a large number of firms, roughly divided into the heavyweights boasting large databases, and the boutique players, either well connected in industry sectors or offering a particular class of skill, such as Project Managers, or ‘C’ level executives. The ‘large database’ players may be attractive to FTSE 100 businesses looking for big teams for major programmes, but this commodity end of the industry typically operates with narrow margins, limited knowledge of the interims, and no quality kite mark, so the clients need to do the hard work of selection.
Hemming Robeson has chosen the ‘C’ level approach and this should play to their strengths. Nick Robeson and his team are well connected and very experienced in the IM industry, and are well equipped to build trusted relationships with potential clients at leadership team level. By restricting their interim database to a relatively small number of senior operators they are able to build and maintain great knowledge of their interims, with whom in many cases they have conducted challenging interviews and psychometric testing in order to submit consistently high quality candidates with a good potential fit to clients. Hemming Robeson obviously need to run a sustainable business, and I’ve no idea what the ideal IM number should be, they could get to know 500 IMs really well, of which they might have up to 10% on assignment at any one time, whereas 2000 would be tough.
With a strong knowledge of their current IMs and a burgeoning list of clients, the future looks promising. Balancing the needs and interests of both interims and clients is core to the Hemming Robeson model, supported by great interim and client facing technology, and a novel commercial framework. They are also actively marketing interims and working with clients to proactively develop opportunities, which is a healthy improvement and strong differentiator.
So, work in progress but a great start with a model that, if successful, is a definite improvement on their competition. Time will tell!