Chuck Golfman, president of HIE, said interim executives are typically seasoned veterans of the "C" or chief category of management -- such as chief executive officer or chief financial officer -- who have either sold their business or retired, reached financial independence but still need to be challenged.
"They might want to spend three months in Hawaii, that's the kind of flexibility they want in their lives," he said.
Sinclair said there are a number of advantages for companies in a leadership bind that turn to interim executives. First, they can address immediate issues without making long-term staffing and financial commitments to high-salaried people on a permanent basis. Second, contractual agreements are made on an as-needed basis. Perhaps best of all, the incoming executive will have no interest in organizational politics.
"If your CFO has a heart attack and can't work for eight months, you can put in place a new CFO (until he or she gets back) who can hit the ground running and doesn't want the job long term," he said.
Sinclair said he decided to expand Harris Consulting last summer after accepting a four-month stint himself as vice-president of human resources at Aeroguard Inc., an airport security company.
Bob Johnson, president of Bob Johnson & Associates, a Winnipeg human resources consulting firm, said bringing in an executive-for-hire makes sense for medium-sized and larger firms, particularly if they're brought in to do more technical work, like a CFO would.
"These guys do add value. They still have a lot to give but they're not prepared to do it 12 hours a day, 12 months a year anymore," he said in an interview.
He said his only concern is how an executive, dropped into a firm for a short period of time can pick up on its culture quickly enough.
"At that level, it's so important that they understand what the business is, how it works and where it's going. Those things are unique to the people who have grown with the business," he said. Golfman said while firms would pay an executive-level salary for their interim leader -- $1,000 per day is a minimum ballpark figure for shorter-term jobs while longer postings would have six-figure salaries on a pro-rated annual basis -- they would not be responsible for paying benefits or hiring or termination fees. HIE receives a fee above and beyond the interim executive's remuneration, he noted.
"The salary will be based on the executive's background and the assignment," he said.
In addition to Sinclair and Golfman (former practice leader for executive search with the Osborne Group and founder and former operator of Regal Furniture respectively), HIE currently has four other executives in its stable, with plans to add more.
They are: Wayne Scarrow, founding partner of Scarrow & Donald, a local chartered accounting firm; Glen Gowryluk, former vice-president of finance and administration at payroll and human resource services firm Ceridian Canada; Bob Jones, former vice-president of marketing at the Crocus Investment Fund; and Rhonda Lorch, former executive with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.