Q&A with interim HR specialist Pauline Garnett

24 January 2023

We’re thrilled to launch Interim Stories, our latest series where we sit down with interim managers from our community to hear about their careers, lessons learned and hear their thoughts on the industry. First up is interim HR specialist, Pauline Garnett.


Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you into a career in interim management?

Having spent over 30 years in large organisations as Head of HR, including a wealth of international experience, I made a decision to spend the next phase of work as a consultant and interim. The variety of organisations and opportunity to make a difference where most needed was hugely motivational. It also presented an opportunity to do fractional HR Director contracts, allowing me to choose when and where I worked.


What, in your opinion, is the best part of a career in interim management?

The variety of work and the clients. No two assignments are the same and I always feel part of a solution to important issues.


And, the worst part?

Sometimes the lack of understanding from clients who are new to interim about what we do and how we can do it and their ability to support what is needed.


Why do you think you’ve been successful in your career?

Flexibility and the ability to call on different skills sets for different situations.


What do you think makes a great interim manager?

The ability to collaborate and to build relationships and trust quickly by delivering the agenda


Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird – I am asleep by 10:30 most nights!


What would you say your biggest failure has been and what did you learn from it?

Staying in a toxic environment where the client had an agenda that was a façade for what they really wanted. It is damaging mentally. I learned that integrity and values matter more than anything else.


Who inspires you?

Not a huge guru person but have been deeply impacted by Daniel Goleman, Stephen Covey and Jitske Kramer as influencers. On a much more personal basis people who have inspired me in my working life: Tug Wilson, Nigel Hayter (DS Smith), Martin Joyce (Klockner) and Richard Norman (Brand Yorkshire).


What do you see as the biggest opportunity within your industry?

Fractional Interim – as we see development and growth in the SME market I believe there is a place for fractional interims to share their wealth of knowledge across multiple clients.


What’s your go-to productivity trick?

Listen, listen and listen again. You need to really understand what is needed so you can deliver. Go beyond the rhetoric and listen to what people are telling you is actually happening.


What’s next?

Hopefully a few more years of doing what I love best – working with challenging and interesting clients, delivering results.



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