IMA Chairman SImon Drake Responds To 2014 Autumn Statement

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement mentioned that the government would look at stamping out tax avoidance through umbrella companies in reference to the HM Treasury review of travel and subsistence schemes. Although there is nothing illegal about individual freelancers and contractors operating through these models, the IMA has always asserted that it goes against the grain for an interim manager who claims that they are in business of their own account to work through an umbrella company.

In line with the REC, the IMA has always welcomed better understanding of how good tax management works for the professional self-employed and careful monitoring, exposing and penalising of tax avoidance. Our members work closely with both their clients and interim managers to ensure that our industry is working to best practice in all that we do, and especially with tax management.

Simon Drake -IMA Chairman

Stand Up to Cancer


Did you know that cancer survival rates have doubled in the UK in the last 10 years? Have you stood up to cancer?

All of us have been hurt by cancer. We can all think of a relative, a friend, a child we know. Cancer is as merciless as a cannonball, and just as blind to the damage it leaves behind. The diagnosis of cancer is something that we all fear and hope we will not get, but over 1,000 people in the UK every day are told this one thing they dread hearing.

So what keeps improving the rate of survival? It’s great research done by the smartest people: more personalised research, care and treatments. All are enabled by one thing: money.

The life sciences are a vocational career in which patient outcomes are the only things that really matter. RSA was a pathfinder in the life sciences interims business in 2001, and we continue to supply interim executives to the industry worldwide.

We have much more than a commercial reason to get up and in to work every day. The life sciences provide LIFE. Our people and our interims make that happen. That’s why we are very active supporters of the Stand Up to Cancer Campaign, run by Cancer Research UK.

Our interims run pivotal drug discovery projects and clinical trials; they create diagnostics and devices; they are working in government to direct investment into personalised medicine and they manage the UK’s entire clinical practice research database. Above all, they work to make cancer patients better.

This gives us unique global insight into how cancer research is improving and what it needs for the future.

There is a revolution happening in personalised medicine, which is driven by patient activism, access to health data and better understanding of the human genome. This has forced health systems and producers into the closest collaboration ever seen. Although it can always be argued that this should have happened many years ago, the conjunction of patient, clinician and pharma has taken massive forces to bring it together. This leads to more agile (cheaper) clinical trials and safer medicines that are better targeted at the real tumour. In short: a more precise, research-based approach.

Interims do so much more for businesses than simply bringing great experience to the table. They roll their sleeves up and get involved. They are PART OF the business and PART OF the solution. As a leading firm in the sector, we believe we are part of our industry, not just a supplier to it.

That’s why our entire global firm got together and showed our support by getting involved in the fundraising for the campaign. It was a vivid reminder of why we do our job and the difference high-quality interims can make. We challenged our competitors in the life sciences sector to do the same because, unless you believe in and actively support this vital industry, you are just another vendor.

Amid all the doom and gloom of untreated disease, issues of funding for new treatments and the deaths of more than 40 people a day from bowel cancer alone – the highest-profile case of which recently was the actress Lynda Bellingham – it is worth remembering that we are making a difference and can do more and more if we Stand Up and are Counted.


Chris Molloy, CEO of RSA


Last week’s Interim Management Association (IMA) meeting (18 September) welcomed a discussion on the push and pull factors contributing to the UK’s growing self-employment market, an increasingly topical issue.

Duncan O’Leary, director of research at the think tank Demos, presented findings and recommendations from his new research, Going it Alone: Investigating the social, economic and political implications of the growth of freelancing’ (, a collaborated project with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE – formerly the PCG).

The research indicates that the UK’s self-employment market is on an upward trajectory that is set to surpass public sector employment with nearly a fifth of the workforce (4.6 million) working this way and 43% aged 50 or over (ONS).

The IMA’s own Ipsos MORI research shows that the interim market is thriving with the demand up by 15 percentage points – .

We also heard insight from Liz Banks REC Director of Communications and Research on the REC’s latest report ‘Flex Appeal’, which looks into the reasons behind why people in Great Britain have worked as a contractor, freelancer or agency worker at some point in their career.

The group discussed areas including:

– How government can ensure a supportive business environment for those who want to work for themselves and for the many organisations that want the flexibility in leadership skills this provides.
– How policy can marry flexibility for those who want it with protection for those who need it
– The long-challenges posed by a shift towards more self-employment, from investment in training to income security and saving for later life

We know the self-employment sector is changing, rapidly and government needs to catch up. Yesterday in the Opposition Leader’s speech at Labour’s party conferences, Ed Miliband made a pledge to fight for equal rights for the self-employed. It is promising to see that this issue has made on the agenda and we hope to see all political parties make similar pledges in the lead up to the 2015 elections.

Hiring an interim manager


The IMA’s latest Ipsos MORI quarterly survey found an increase in the demand for interim managers – up by 4 per cent from the first quarter of 2014 (1). This follows a 15 percentage point increase, reported in the previous quarter (2).

And, the latest data shows that between April to July 2014, there was a huge spike in interim programme and project management roles – with two thirds (66 per cent) of all executives hired for this purpose – up by 17 percentage points from Q1, 2014.

Interim managers have clearly become a key leadership and management support service to business, and the process of hiring one has become increasingly important. Today’s business leaders are seeing interim managers as a cost-effective solution for bringing about organisational change and transformation. They can fill leadership gaps or take on strategic responsibilities as part of their assignments.

There is no doubting the vital role the interim management provider has to play in selecting the best candidate. They need to work with the client to fully understand the brief, and add real value throughout the process. The success of a project is often down to how well the process is managed. The combination of good recruiter and a quality interim is key.

However, I would argue that there is equally a real onus on the client to be transparent and open about their challenges and method of operation – providing an open book approach will ensure an assignment’s success.

See more at:


Simon Drake, IMA chairman and director at Penna Plc

Transforming the ‘Conforming’ Board into a Performing Board


Over the past few years, Board’s interactions with shareholders were predominantly negative. Funds were in short supply, executives were focussed on the runway not on the sky; and potential new shareholders talked tough in every negotiation. This frequently led to a focus on process and “simple” compliance – on risk minimisation and cost containment rather than on opportunity enhancement. In essence, Boards became subservient. However, the sun is now shining, investors are coming back and deal volumes are at a level not seen since the late 1990’s.

As such, we have launched a survey which seeks to explore issues around remuneration for NEDs in public and private company environments, risk and internal controls, board performance management and succession planning. The reason for the survey is to refine the understanding of the skillsets and backgrounds most in demand in Life Sciences board rooms today; ultimately allowing companies to build better Boards. To access the survey please go to:

As well as ensuring compliance, Boards develop and refine the strategy, vision and long term value of the shareholders’ investment. Chairs therefore need non-executives with diverse experiences and skills, fit for the businesses needs today as well as for long term growth and tactical advice. A vibrant Board therefore needs high energy people, firm but respectful debate and relevant experience.

Now is the time to re-examine your strategy, review your Board objectively and use real data to ensure your company is led for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Nick Stephens, Executive Chairman of RSA

Football (and rugby) interims


News of the sacking of David Moyes by Manchester United was everywhere last week.

It was interesting, but perhaps not surprising, to hear of Ryan Giggs being given the role of interim manager of Manchester United after David Moyes was sacked. Much as in the same way that Stuart Pearce took over as a “caretaker” for the England squad following Capello’s resignation, or Stuart Lancaster who took over as the interim manager for the England Rugby team after Martin Johnson resigned.

Giggs provides minimum potential disruption to the team ethos and therefore a smooth transition to the replacement – when found.

Ryan Giggs certainly has the respect of the team, much in the same way that Stuart Pearce and Stuart Lancaster have. However, unlike Stuart Lancaster, who went on great success and now holds the permanent position leading the England Rugby team, it has been confirmed that Ryan Giggs will only hold the position as a ‘holding measure’ as Stuart Pearce did and won’t be offered the opportunity to lead the team on a long-term permanent basis. After Stuart Lancaster’s great success I wonder if this is a mistake?

Perhaps the listed status of Manchester United means that their shareholders feel the unproven manager of Ryan Giggs is too risky or perhaps the fact that he’s so close to the team they feel he won’t be able to make the step-change required to be a tough leader and have the courageous conversations needed to change performance? These are all important factors to be considered when hiring the services of a professional interim manager in business today and one of the key reasons why an ‘over experienced’ and ‘independent’ interim manager is best, as they are quickly able to challenge the status quo and add value.

We can draw a number of comparisons and contrasts between interim sport managers and interim business executives:

– They are experienced and – often over-qualified – executives with specialist skills, who are hired on a project basis by businesses to help with problems and challenges.
– They can be ‘gap fillers’ or take on very strategic roles; working to get projects back on track.
– They solve business problems/issues, leaving a legacy of good work in their wake – before moving onto their next assignment.
– There are circa 15,000 of these interims working in the UK, many of whom are starting to be placed in roles overseas. There is a clear demand for their services; the sun never sets on the British interim.

However, at the end of the day, the football and Rugby interim manager might prefer a permanent job – like Stuart Lancaster now has. In business today though, interims are committed to help organisations change and therefore more likely to turn down permanent roles offered.

Simon Drake, chairman of the IMA and director of Penna plc

Comments on the latest BCC Quarterly Economic Survey

I was very encouraged to read the findings from the latest BCC Quarterly Economic Survey – showing that exports in the services sector (sales and orders) rose to an all time high. And, it is good to see that growth will remain strong in the short-term, let’s hope this translates into the long-term as well.

David Kern’s call for maintaining an environment that stimulates continued growth, with low inflation and interest rates will certainly be welcomed by the IMA’s members – both for their own businesses, but also for the many leaders of UK organisations that they help every day. As we all know, the provision of experienced interim managers helps shape and implement projects for business growth, and many have increasingly been helping with international assignments.

Our latest online poll further reinforces these findings with almost 9 in 10 respondents advising that they believe international work will increase over the next year.

Interim management sector set for international growth

This will be an interesting space to watch…

Simon Drake, IMA chairman and director at Penna plc


Comments on the 2014 Budget, Simon Drake – IMA chairman



“The Chancellor’s 2014 Budget showed some positive signs in relation to support for UK business. I was particularly interested to hear about new global opportunities through export finance. The UK is the hub for interim management in Europe, and every poll conducted by the IMA highlights the growing trend of UK interims working overseas

“The UK has the most established interim market and is the most respected and renowned – globally. And, today, Interim managers are increasingly working abroad, where their talents are in demand.

“Interims have a strong understanding of governance and many also command good language skills, which supports their bid to work in other markets. They create heritage within a business, because they follow and embed well-run processes.”


National Freelancers Day: Interim Managers are an essential part of the UK workforce


Today marks the fifth annual National Freelancers Day, an event established by the PCG to recognise alternative ways of working and the valuable contribution made by freelancers to the UK’s economy. In the age of 4G, businesses need to be able to keep pace with change and attract the best and the brightest talent. Advances in technology now offer companies and individuals greater choice in the way that they operate, which partly explains the growth in the UK’s thriving freelance community.

The freelance market spans a wide spectrum, from specialist IT contractors, to interim leaders of global companies. There is perhaps not an immediate connection between interim management and freelancing, but in both cases individuals enjoy employment flexibility and autonomy on project-based work.

The Interim Management Association (IMA), a specialist sector group of the REC representing the interim provider industry, finds that the demand in the market for top level interims shows no signs of letting up. The latest Ipsos MORI survey of the IMA’s members recorded the highest growth rates for the sector and perhaps reflects the wider optimism that the UK is starting to pull out of the recession. Although the majority of interim roles (70%) continue to be for change management and turnaround projects, there are signs that companies are investing in interims to help bring them in step with their competitors.

“Interim managers are an essential part of the workforce and British businesses have come to rely on this as a flexible and reliable resource,” says Jason Atkinson, chairman of the IMA and managing director for Russam Interims. “It is a challenging career but for those at the top of their game, part of the reward of being an interim manager is the opportunity to apply industry expertise to major projects and see an immediate impact and lasting legacy. The path is not for everyone, which is why the IMA offers an induction workshop for those thinking about making the transition.”

It is positive to see that government is recognising the UK’s dynamic labour market and clawing back red tape, but it is about striking the right balance between a regulatory framework and taxation system that does not prevent companies from accessing specialists for business critical projects or constrain individuals who want to remain independent and in control of their service offering. The REC and members of the IMA have campaigned hard to ensure that proposed changes to legislation such as IR35 do not capture those operating legitimately. As the economy speeds toward 5G and beyond, the UK will need to be supportive of innovations in the way businesses and people work in order to stay competitive in a global market