from John West, director, Red Retail Interim
Sir; re Simon Howard's Careers File article (The Grocer, November 2, p60). I wonder if he really understands what makes an independent professional? He wrongly groups all those who work as independents under one heading. There are distinct differences between freelancers, interim managers, temps and consultants, that any of these would be only to pleased to describe.
Firstly, interim managers and consultants are certainly not the same. The role of the interim is to manage, to implement, to be a decision maker bringing the expert knowledge of achievement and background to any assignment on which they are working. The role of the consultant is to consult, to advise, to gather information and to recommend ­ often being followed by an interim manager who comes along to act out those recommendations.
Both are highly proficient professionals with mature and expert skills. It is not uncommon for larger consultancy firms to have interim management divisions specifically for this provision.
To add freelancers and temps to this list is frankly insulting, as the terminology alone conjures up lower paid and lesser qualified people who work on a casual basis. They have their place, but not in this context.
People who have chosen the independent lifestyle as a positive career choice occupy the realm where acquired and trained skills, and a sound record of achievement across broad experience scenarios, can make for precise and expert solutions to industry problems.
In an employment market where flexible solutions to immediate problems, as well as the need to run projects which are outside of the scope of already pressured executives is key, a diverse arsenal of weaponry is desirable rather than a blunderbuss approach.