YESTERDAY, we looked at a growing trend for companies, especially those in the biomedical sector, to employ interim managers to fill a role until the permanent hire is ready to assume the position.

Today's article takes a closer look at this new breed of temps who are also known as interims.

Who are they?

They are, in fact, the men and women who undertake interim management for a living.

Interim management involves temporarily assigning an experienced person with a proven track record to manage a period of transition or difficulty.

Interim managers are most often called in for the following scenarios:

* To cover a key employee's extended illness, sudden departure, maternity leave, or a delay in getting a permanent hire in place;

* When additional talent is needed to keep an important project on track or to speed up progress;

* To lead or take part in change programmes;

* When acquisitions, divestments and mergers require the help of competent specialists;

* To turn around under-performing businesses ("company doctors");

* When performance reviews and troubleshooting need to be done;

* When specialist expertise, not normally required in-house, is needed;

* To coach or mentor new or struggling teams; or

* To reduce the risks associated with start-ups and new business areas.

Why they do it

Interim managers are typically in their late 30s or early 40s, although a handful of them are older.

They have invariably had successful careers as managers or senior professionals in respected organisations.

They have consciously chosen a new career in interim management, and their reasons for doing so include:

* Greater flexibility in working patterns;

* More variety in work assignments;

* The freedom to choose which assignments to accept; and

* A desire for independence.

Interim managers nowadays have usually:

* Earned advanced qualifications in their field of specialisation;

* Reached senior positions in their chosen sectors;

* Made a career choice to stay in the sector as independent operators; and

* Set up their own limited companies.

They have many attributes in common. Users of their services often describe them as:

* Apolitical and baggage-free;

* Skilled at leadership and communication;

* Results-orientated and determined; and

* Competent and confident.

A second career

Mr Ken Adams, 47, is an interim manager. He chose interim management as a second career three years ago. He has a PhD in pharmacology and 20 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

He rose to become head of pharmacology at a well-known pharmaceutical company in the United Kingdom, but at the age of 43, he felt the need for a major change.

The higher he rose, the harder he worked, and the more he found himself dealing with political issues in the office rather than pharmacological ones.

He wanted to get back to his core business of pharmacology and leadership. He also wanted some time to relax and enjoy life with his family.

He did some research and found what he was looking for in interim management.

He now has his own limited company and is registered with a reputable and respected interim management firm that provides him with assignments.

For the last three years, he has been in constant demand and has to turn down as many projects as he accepts.

Some he turns down because he cannot fit them into his tight schedule; some because they do not appeal to him; and some, because he needs a bit of freedom from work from time to time.

This month, he is due to start a two-month project in Singapore with a major pharmaceutical company.

He didn't want to leave his family for so long, but he made an exception for the Singapore project.

The work is cutting-edge, involves working with some outstanding researchers, and the company is getting exceptional support from the Singapore authorities. It was too good to turn down.

When he arrives, he will find himself meeting other interims like himself - specialists who have come out to Singapore for a while to work in the burgeoning life sciences sector.

Their task is to help the sector achieve its goals and to make Singapore a major hub for advanced research and development.