Most of us have grown up with the idea of a permanent job.
But for many women, an interim career can offer a professional experience that being on the payroll may simply not deliver.
Kathryn Riley has been filling board-level roles in human resources since 2000. Before that she had a successful career in the City of London.
Her first role was with Network Rail, which owns and operates the UK’s rail infrastructure. “I had never done any work with railways, but it was a big role. It was a fascinating time to be involved,” she says. Riley has also worked for a range of clients in the utilities, telecoms and healthcare industries, usually reporting to the chief executive.
Riley continues: “You don’t have six months to say hello to everybody; you’ve got to do an assessment very quickly, understand the operating plan and how the whole business works. Your plan has to be robust, because often it is you who is going to have to implement it. The reality is you may be hired to do something unpopular.”
And while “it has some downsides, I prefer the freedom, the variety, and opportunity to make a difference whilst being able to stay out of all the office politics,” Riley says. Her assignments can last anything from three months to three years and tend to be full-time roles.
According to a report by Interim Women, an organisation set up by Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, an interim recruitment company, Riley’s experience is shared by others.
The women surveyed by Russam cited the diverse nature of the challenge, being your own boss, and flexibility as key advantages to an interim career.
“We started Interim Women because we didn’t understand why there are not enough women in interim management”, Russam says. Seventy per cent of interim assignments are filled by men, according to the UK’s Interim Management Association.
The women surveyed earned an average £604 per day and had an average of 22 years experience before embarking on interim careers.