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By Thomas Reid, Sep 22 2014 06:03AM

International aspirations feature high amongst many interim managers. The idea to showcase their skills and experience abroad is attractive and adds eye-catching experience to any interim’s CV. Business challenges are universal and with companies seeking to tap into the developing market of the world’s second largest economy, China presents the ideal environment for an interim to apply their skills.

Despite growth slowing as large scale structural transformation of the economy continues, the Chinese economy still grew by 7.4% as of Q3 for 2014. Whilst marginally lower than previous figures it still provides significant opportunity for development within the region. China continues to show potential for foreign investors across multiple industries to expand in the form of joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions and start up projects. The willingness of outside investors in turn presents attractive options for local enterprises as they seek to expand regional operations whilst at the same time giving them a more global reach.

New arrivals are not the only source providing opportunities for utilizing interims. Many projects arise from the challenges facing companies that already have a foothold in the region. These can take on the form of restructurings, turnarounds, downsizing and expansion after initial success. Such projects crave the experience head who can hit the ground running without any time to adjust resulting in faster results.

Success in such ventures is easier said than done. Extensive planning with clear goals must be set with success requiring cooperation between cultures of multiple global sites. Leaders with the experience to oversee projects of such international diversity are not always easy to find when recruiting internally, highlighting the need for externally sourced managers. This presents the ideal scenario for Asia’s interims to influence the Asian market. Their international experience resulting from a lifetime of full time work coupled with interim assignments gives them a unique insight within their industries. This allows them to engage all sets of stakeholders and transform their understanding of the local market into putting in place the necessary management structure and operational procedures to ensure assignment success.

At Interim Management Solutions (IMS), during the last year we have seen many interims applying their skills and experience to influence the market through completion of successful assignments. Below is a list of a few assignments across various industries and fields where interims have been effective deployed in securing completion of project targets.

Home Appliance Electronics – Interim Sourcing Director

Food and Beverages – Interim Country Manager

Glassware Manufacturing – Interim Supply Chain Manager

Jewelry – Interim CIO

Manufacturing Solution Services – Interim APAC Sales Manager

Home Appliances (vacuums) – Interim Quality Director

Interims are more important than ever in the China and APAC regions given the vast rewards that are on offer. Successfully tapping into this potential often requires complex projects that not only need an experienced head but upon completion do not require a permanent addition to the full time staff. Whilst China continues to be the holy-grail for companies seeking expansion, there will always be opportunities for interims to assert their influence in the regions markets.

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By Thomas Reid, Sep 16 2014 06:19AM

The automotive industry continues to face major structural alterations as innovation, technology, globalization and high quality regulations continue to develop, forcing producers to have the ability to adapt to the market. This leads to a need for a highly skilled workforce with the flexibility to meet these rising challenges.

The impact of such challenges is of course global however the importance of the emerging markets is clear. Sales figures for Western Europe have seen only moderate changes in recent times, while the markets of India and China continue to see high growth. Tapping into these markets may prove vital for the future. The Chinese automotive market is already the major global force, having overtaken the US four years ago. This year the US posted sales figures of 8.15 million vehicles, compared to China’s 11.8 million for the first 5 months of 2014. This has led to many foreign producers investing in China in order to increase their footing in the world’s second largest economy.

To highlight the growth of the Chinese automotive industry, this year we saw passenger car sales rise by 9% for the first 5 months of the year and retail delivery of automotive vehicles climber to 1.5 million for May. We have seen that the Chinese government continues to place great importance on developing infrastructure across the country. Infrastructure must continue to develop at a rate in order to accommodate for the expected rise in driving license holders and new car owners.

To successfully manage investment in the Chinese automotive industry, foreign enterprises must first form a strong partnership with a domestic producer. This is on top of the usual requirements of stakeholder and project management. This can only be achieved through well organized agendas that deliver according to the production and regulation targets.

For such action, sometimes an external manager proves to be the best option. Automotive interims are ideally placed to lead such projects as they posses the regional understanding, project experience and leadership skills. When such cooperation between foreign enterprises and local producers is required, the experienced interim is in a unique position to lead the project according to the plan and interpretation of both parties, without bias or internal politics. They are able to draw upon their experience in the region to understand the market situation and local regulations. Their previous experience both in full-time work and on interim projects gives them the flexibility to tackle any issue that may arise and ensure the right measures are effectively taken. They can also transfer their skills on to the internal staff to ensure that upon completion of the assignment, productivity continues to thrive.

Interim Management is proving to be a fast growing trend in China and across Asia. Senior executives are eager to show their skills and employers are fast seeing the benefits of an externally sourced manager. The automotive industry is one example where interims are being utilized for effective project results in a highly competitive environment.

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By Thomas Reid, Sep 16 2014 05:42AM

In today’s business climate, the importance of international experience adds significant value to the CV of any executive. Since China’s emergence as an important player in the world markets, a large number of executives are opting to come to China, of whom many choose to stay on at the end of their initial contracts. This combined with the seasoned interim managers who have been working in APAC for decades, those looking to lend their expertise to the region for the first time as well as the growing number of Chinese executives looking to strike a better balance by taking control of their work schedules creates an experienced pool of executives now on the interim market. Foreign Executives make up the vast majority of interim managers as they have the international experience, mindsets and proven track record at adapting to and driving transformation in mature markets. This makes them ideally suited to have the desired impact an interim assignment demands.

There are many advantages to using an interim manger. For projects that require an experienced set of eyes and fast results, interims already have the required skill sets in place and can hit the ground running. They provide a fresh approach and option to what a company may not already possess and can pass on their experience to those they work with during their time on assignment. They also are ideally placed to make the tough decisions required for a successful project due to the nature of their part time association with the assignment company.

Many opt for a career in interim management as the rewards can be very appealing. They provide greater flexibility and control over one’s schedule and the financial rewards are also a factor. We recently reported that according to a recent survey, executives in the Asia Pacific region are earning the highest base salaries in the world. This provides the opportunity for experienced executives to choose which projects to apply their expertise combined with attractive salary packages.

A typical interim assignment can last anywhere from 6 months to two years. One such example is this story from IMS of Chee-Kiang Lim, who took on the role of an interim project manager. Our client, a global oil company, decided to partner with a Chinese SOE to form a JV in the commercial lubricants sector. A comprehensive integration plan was devised with the need for an experienced interim manager for its implementation.

Chee-Kiang Lim had the task of engaging both the shareholders and senior representatives of the two companies to review and prioritize the integration plan and set up a united governance structure to jointly own the implementation. He also put in place the necessary project management and tracking tools to see the success of the plan from the top executives down to the workforce.

He admits that throughout his assignment he spent a lot of time smoothing over the numerous issues that arose from varying interpretations of the original JV agreement. Despite this the implementation was a huge success with the JV even meeting its increased targets from the original revenue and profit projections. The interim project leader was also able to set up a practical working structure for the management team to continue driving implementation after his assignment.

Interim Management Solutions (IMS) based in Shanghai is the leading provider of Interim Management services in China. IMS has an extensive database of foreign and local executives with experience of placing interim executives in assignments in a variety of industries across Asia. In addition, IMS also handles placement of executives in permanent positions as their candidates are also open to the possibility of permanent executive positions.

Should you wish to learn more about Interim Management Solutions and the services they provide, or if you have an enquiry either as a client or candidate, please send an email to ims@jmgemini.com, or visit our website here at www.imsinasia.com.

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