Q&A - Penny Targett - Insights into the career of a senior interim

Q&A - Penny Targett - Insights into the career of a senior interim

Why did you decide to become an interim reward consultant and what do you enjoy most about being an interim?

After a stimulating and challenging career working across a range of industry sectors, I knew that what really motivated me was variety and working on projects or ideas that needed new initiatives to be designed and implemented.   Having always been part of an organisation with responsibility for developing and communicating reward strategy, not just providing advice and recommending options, being an interim reward consultant seemed to be the perfect choice for me.

As an interim I am able to use my skills, knowledge and experience in a way that blends both consultancy and implementation. I really enjoy working with a wide range of companies. As they are looking for interim support for many different reasons, the work is certainly not routine and provides many opportunities to develop new ideas and explore new directions.

What do you think clients see as the critical skills needed to be a successful interim in this challenging economic climate?

Clients will always look for someone who has the in-depth technical knowledge and practical experience relevant to their specific requirements.   To be successful interims need to add value by delivering results quickly, which also means having good interpersonal skills, being flexible about what they do and comfortable with ambiguous situations.

Given the constantly changing, uncertain and more regulated environment in which businesses now have to operate, clients are also looking for interims with commercial and financial expertise and a good understanding of shareholder, regulator and reporting requirements.

Good communication skills are also critical. Communicating reward is no longer about rules and policies and having everything on ‘the intranet’. It is about tailoring communications that meet the needs of the recipients. For employees this means using a wide selection of media, and being straightforward and engaging - avoiding technical terms as much as possible.

Finally, clients are looking for interims with coaching and mentoring skills so that they can leave a longer term legacy by helping the in-house teams develop in their roles.

How does an interim add value and what are the main benefits from a client perspective?

Interims add value by providing the skills and experience that are not readily available within the company to achieve the specific goals and objectives that have been identified as needing to be met within a specific, and usually short, time frame.

Interims provide a fresh perspective and are able to focus on what’s best for the business. By working internally with the team, rather than providing external expertise, interims are able to offer pragmatic solutions to meet specific business needs.

For companies going through change where there is a significant amount of uncertainty for employees, career interims, rather than those who are filing a gap between permanent jobs, have the added benefit of not being viewed as a threat, but as an independent resource to gain experience from.

Do you think that companies will increasingly reach out to interim reward specialists to strategically fulfil skills gaps in the short term?

I think the use of interims will increase as more and more companies realise the benefits that can be gained from bringing in additional support. As clients continue to operate with leaner teams, interims will be a cost effective way of meeting a range of needs, be it strategy development, supporting a transformation, reinforcing in-house capability for a specific project or bridging a gap due to absence or while a client looks to recruit someone permanently.

Priorities can, and do, change rapidly and unexpected situations can often be seen as creating opportunities rather than problems because bringing in an interim can give a client the space and time to decide on what would be best the for organisation in the long-term.