The following high-profile Interim Management engagements show that Interims can make a significant contribution within any sector. A common theme in most of these assignments is the need for the interim to manage (or avert) a crisis.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus appointed Jan Fischer as Interim Prime Minister in
April 2009. Despite being unknown to the vast majority of the Czech public, Mr Fischer, a 58-year-old economist, acted as Interim Minister and took the country to an early election. The Interim appointment has helped draw a line under the crisis caused by the resignation of former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
When Christine Hefner announced (Dec 2008) her intention to step down as Playboy Enterprises Chairman and CEO, the board stated that they would be looking to find her replacement as soon as possible. In the meantime they appointed Jerome Kern, a long-time director of the company, to serve as Interim non-executive chairman. Kern made no secret of his desire to replace Hefner on a more permanent basis, but lost out to Scott Flanders, who took over as CEO from Hefner. As interim non-exec chairman, Kern had said that the company was "willing to listen" to acquisition offers and was said to be deeply disappointed on missing out on the top job. As the ‘inside man’, Kern was favourite to land the CEO job and he quit the company not long after Flanders was appointed, stating that he left the business to "pursue other business opportunities." To further demonstrate the popularity of Interim Management, Scott Flanders replacement at Freedom Communications was another Interim Manager/CEO (media veteran Burl Osborne).
Sometimes the ‘inside man’ does get the job, and this happened at American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson when they announced in September 2009 that Interim CFO John Olin would be appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, after he served as interim CFO since May 2009. Olin will be in charge of all Harley-Davidson financial and treasury operations, as well as with investor relations, aviation and information systems. Olin has more than 25 years of experience in financial leadership. Before joining Harley-Davidson, Olin served for 12 years in various domestic and global financial roles at Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer Foods and Miller Brewing Company; he also served as controller of Kraft Foods' cheese division.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
Cricket is the number one sport in Pakistan and it was big news when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed Wasim Bari as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) on an Interim basis, a day after Saleem Altaf was sacked from the post. A PCB spokesman said Bari, a former Pakistan Test cricketer, will work as the Interim COO until the post is filled on a permanent basis. It was believed that Saleem Altaf had fallen out with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt due to differences on key administrative issues. The PCB sent a termination letter to Altaf stating his services were not required by the board anymore. However, Altaf claimed he had not received any such letter. "I will certainly consider going to court if any such letter is sent to me," said Altaf, himself a lawyer. Altaf had previously been sacked by the PCB and later reinstated, but sources at the PCB said Altaf is unlikely to earn a reprieve this time as his termination letter has been signed by the PCB governing board members and his Interim replacement ratified.
Newcastle United Football Club
The appointment of Joe Kinnear as Interim Manager of Newcastle United FC in September 2008 raised eyebrows in Premier League circles, as Kinnear had not managed a club since being sacked by Nottingham Forest in 2004. Kinnear was expected to be in the high pressure job until the end of October 2008, but when owner Mike Ashley failed to find a buyer for the club Kinnear was asked to stay for the season but left the club in February 2009 due to ill health and a triple heart bypass soon followed.
When Sir David Jones was appointed Interim Executive Chairman of JJB Sports in January 2009, not even he could have predicted just how difficult a job it would be to save the ailing sportswear giant. Amidst alleged mismanagement of the previous Chief Executive, one of the first tasks Jones took on was to sell the companies two (yes two!!) helicopters. Several months later, and with the business on the tentative road to recovery, Jones describes his assignment with JJB as “the biggest challenge I ever faced”.
Having witnessed the virtues of Interim Management first hand during his 30+ years as one of the UK’s most prominent businessmen, Sir David now supports other companies seeking to recruit Interim Managers, through his role as non-Executive Chairman of Interim Service Provider BCMP Interim.
Johnson Services Group (Johnson the dry cleaners)
Late in 2007, John Talbot was drafted into Johnson Services Group as Interim Chief Executive, when the former boss Charles Skinner resigned after Johnson breached its banking covenants. The ‘turnaround’ specialist from Kroll persuaded lenders to extend credit and raised £82.5 million from selling Johnson’s corporate wear division, but scrapped the sale of other divisions including Hotel supplier Stalbridge Linen. Talbot is now the company’s Executive Chairman.
Committee on Standards in Public Life
Back in May 2007, Rita Donaghy took over from Sir Alistair Graham as Interim Head of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The committee is a non-departmental public body set up to examine concerns about the standards of conduct of all holders of public office. Donaghy stood down from the Committee at the end of 2007 which is fantastic timing given the subsequent MP’s expenses scandal and Baroness Scotland’s employment of an ‘illegal’ worker, which will keep the committee burning the midnight oil for the foreseeable future.
Jurong Technologies Industrial Corp
Facing crippling debts of US$200 million, Deloitte & Touche appointed Mr Tam Chee Cheong as Interim Judicial Manager to Jurong Technologies in Feb 2009. The Interim appointment followed an application by creditor banks. Jurong Technologies said that it welcomes Mr Tam's appointment and will provide him with the requisite support to enable him to have an expedited understanding of the group's operations. At least seven banks have demanded repayments of loans amounting to more than US$200 million. Mr Tam helped the business extend judicial management orders and renegotiate with creditors. Despite the debt, the company is still trading as at September 2009.
During the midst of the ‘credit crisis’, Credit Suisse announced that its Investment Bank CEO, Paul Calello, would be stepping down after it emerged he was receiving intensive medical treatment for a sudden and unexpected illness. Following this unexpected announcement, Eric Varvel become the Interim Investment Bank CEO. Credit Suisse’s CEO Brady W. Dougan has stated the firm’s support for Calello and thanked Varvel for stepping in on an Interim basis.