The unknown executive

Here today, gone tomorrow. Temporary executives fill a short-term need and then move on, offering value without long-term commitment.
By Mike Moralis
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/06/2002

It’s a classic theme from literature and cinema — a group or community in trouble, a stranger helps overcome challenges, and when the work is done, rides off into the sunset. In the corporate world, life is imitating art, with the proliferation of temporary or interim executives who are used to solve problems and manage transitions.

The ranks of this particular breed of “hired gun” are growing rapidly as the concept achieves acceptance in the corporate world thanks to the convergence of demographics, economics and other factors like globalization, the emergence of the knowledge-based economy and the Internet.

Seven or eight years ago, as the last recession ended, executive search firm Caldwell Partners International began getting requests from Canada-based corporate search clients for people to serve as interim executives, says Martin Parker, managing director of the Caldwell Interim Executives business unit.