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At what point in your career should you become an interim manager ?

Is age a determining factor?

In today's world, there's no age limit to becoming an interim manager. There are many different types of interim manager, and depending on the assignment, the age criterion will be more or less decisive.

Traditionally, an interim manager is expected to be a woman or a man who has :

    • held positions of responsibility or "autonomous" positions
    • project work
    • achieved tangible results
    • has an age synonymous with "experience"...

This last point needs to be kept under constant review, due to changing economic and social circumstances, which pose certain problems differently, such as the evaluation of the quality of the experience. Moreover, recruitment techniques are becoming more refined and tend to isolate deeper and more relevant criteria behind age.o

What is the average age of an interim manager?

According to the FNMT, 64% of interim managers are aged between 50 and 59. More "quinquas" than "quadras". This proportion would hardly be surprising if we were to stick to a classic conception of interim management: for example, the CFO of a major industrial group, who has led large-scale projects, would find himself piloting major restructurings in a company in crisis.

But the reality of the market is very different. And the reality is that interim management is accessible as soon as you have real business skills, technical know-how and are sufficiently autonomous to be useful in a team. The autonomy criterion is the one we favor at IMfinity; it's the one our customers also use when the synthesis of required qualities has been reviewed with them.

Conventional wisdom: there is a minimum age to become an interim manager

This is the question that can legitimately be asked: is there a strict condition on the age of the candidate-transition manager? Should we confine ourselves to the fact that only people in their fifties are to be placed on missions of a certain scale, in order to guarantee the "quality of the service"? Should we be more flexible? Should other criteria be considered, giving them greater importance than before?

In reality, age is absolutely not a criterion, the number of years of experience in the area of expertise being sought, yes.

While managing a CAC 40 legal department certainly calls for a certain amount of experience, many other cases call for other profiles. This applies in particular to interim management assignments (for any absence of a key executive), which can be carried out by less senior (and, by the way, less costly) profiles. Managing a small legal team at 35 is perfectly feasible!

Often, moreover, the ability of each interim manager will depend on qualities that are quite similar to those retained in the world of traditional recruitment: responsiveness, speed, adaptability, listening skills, leadership, ability to synthesize, ability to decide, rigor, commitment, etc. These abilities are obtained with time and experience, but can also be innate or developed rapidly. These skills are acquired with time and experience, but can also be innate or developed rapidly.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always necessary to replace an executive with a more senior interim manager.

New dynamics in the recruitment of interim managers

Towards substitution criteria?

The world of recruitment better identifies certain skills, discovers new ones (whether they are purely professional or simply relational) and knows how to evaluate them better.

For interim management, replacing pure age with a set of other criteria (including "minimum time" spent on certain projects or subjects) is a reality of today's recruitment.

Soft skills, a distinctive element

As the Swiss website Success & Career states: "more than 60 % of the criteria required for job qualification are soft skills".

It should be noted that interpersonal fluency, tact, empathy and a variety of other skills greatly influence the level of other, more technical skills. Leading a legal or tax project in a complicated context will depend on technical skills, but first and foremost on the ability to explain, bring people together and get things done. Common to many other skills, a necessary condition for the success of many projects, these are the skills that were once undervalued, and which today are becoming key elements.

At IMfinity, we have our own evaluation methods, which enable us to identify the aptitudes of a candidate applying for a given assignment in a given sector, regardless of age. The processes we have put in place, and the knowledge we have of interim management, enable us to aim high and adapt to these new market realities.


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Written under the supervision of Francis Fernandez-Mouron.