In the final and fourth part of our series marking International Women’s Day, Vivienne Hole looks back on her distinguished career as an interim which began back in the early Nineties. Self-confidence is key, “You need to have that belief, which many women don’t have as we tend to undersell ourselves – you must also be comfortable with challenge and conflict so don’t be afraid to speak up,” she says.
An international HR director who has worked for FTSE-100 companies, Vivienne specialises in cultural, performance and engagement change as well as business restructuring and transformation. Find out more about the adviser to the Welsh government’s inspirational interim career…
“The fun of being an interim is that it is full on, there’s a real buzz which I thrive on”
What advice would you give to females considering moving into interim?
VH: When I started off, I didn’t perhaps have the confidence to realise that you have lot more freedom as an interim than in a permanent role and that you have a skill set that enables you to make a real difference by identifying issues and influencing outcomes. You need to have that belief, which many women don’t have as we tend to undersell ourselves – you must also be comfortable with challenge and conflict so don’t be afraid to speak up. I have found interim management to be a great opportunity to experience a variety of companies and diversity of projects that may not present themselves to a permanent employee. It’s a great way to broaden your skills and network. Another advantage is the flexibility of work contract which you can build around whatever else is going on in your life.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started?
VH: I have been doing this for a long time before it was called ‘interim management’. It took a little while for me to realise that I was in a wonderful position to cut through a lot of distractions in companies and get things done while achieving change much more easily than other employees. Know your worth and remember that as an interim manager you’re in a highly respected position.
Talking to others who have done the role before is invaluable and make sure you take on an assignment for the right reasons, that you’re happy and feel you can contribute.
Have you faced any particular challenges as a female interim?
VH: Even though you know you’re only going to be there for a set period of time, you mustn’t let it influence your decision making. Always do what’s in the best interests of the company as if you were a loyal employee no matter what others may think. I have worked for some great companies and have thoroughly enjoyed my interim career apart from the odd time when I was relieved that it was coming to an end. The fun of being an interim is that it is such a full on role, there’s a real buzz which I thrive on.
Vivienne’s top five reasons to choose an interim career
- Variety: you get to experience different companies and projects
- Development: interim roles are a great way to pick up new skills
- Work-life balance: you can work when you need to
- Focus: fewer distractions means you can effect change more easily
- Relationships: an interim career allows you to grow your network
Bonus reason: you can try a company out if you did decide to continue in a permanent role.