Damian Kennedy is a Dublin-based Chartered Accountant.  Here, he discusses his role with CAIM – Chartered Accountants Interim Managers. 

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

To help the clients I work with get through difficult challenges during startups, projects, maternity/sick leave and other senior finance gaps – I am currently Head of Finance in Primeline logistics, assisting in a time of rapid expansion and an ERP implementation.
When I am not available or don’t have the skills / experience required, I help to connect potential clients and recruiters with members of the CAIM network, where there are typically a handful of available and experienced accountants who can fill the gap.

What are your biggest challenges?
Being able to get up to speed quickly, regularly in new industries and with new cultures and being flexible enough to deliver solutions.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

By focusing on delivering through people.  An interim manager generally brings a broad perspective and can focus on the individuals without the constraints of corporate politics and history, thereby injecting new life into stagnant situations, which brings hope and optimism for both the client and staff involved

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

Improving the awareness and professionalism of the interim management market which is well understood in the UK and other markets and recognising a successful interim manager for the wider skills of being able to manage successfully in variable client situations and not just an hourly paid contractor.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?
Entry into Ireland of a number of UK companies who specialise in the Interim and Part Time market. To date these have mainly been in the part time Finance Director / Controller space rather than the full time interim service, but they bring a lot of experience in terms of product branding, structure etc

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
Greater awareness of the sector as a potential solution for the “interim challenge” which is different to either full time employment or consultancy.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

The interim market actually performed well during these times with a lot of clients reluctant to commit to full time employment contracts, preferring instead to use an Interim, with little or no commitment.  As the economy has improved, clients are being more specific about filling long term roles and we have concentrated on establishing long terms relationships with industry bodies and referral partners who are exposed to clients who may be short of resource e.g. Startups and rapidly growing companies in particular

How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Brexit is likely to bring opportunities, particular from clients who have not prepared properly and need an extra help when the curtain falls and some of the reality bites, in addition to supporting a number of companies who wilt invariable  relocate here

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success is getting repeat calls from contacts and clients to help them AND having sufficient members available and suitably skilled to meet their requirements.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Change is inevitable, except from a Vending machine.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
CAIM is a voluntary network and focuses on helping members up-skill to manage themselves as “self-employed” interims. This year we expanded our professional network linking up with the Irish Tax Institute and the Institute of Management consultants and Advisers to run joint network and training programs.  We also ran a concentrated training program on Referral Marketing delivered by Asentiv. As our membership grows (currently 60+ paid members and 300+ on our mailing list), we are rolling out an improved governance structure for our own group.

What’s next for your company?
Build the awareness of the existence of the Interim market for both members and clients, to the point where both become aware of the benefits of the Interim service BEFORE and not AFTER they need it .

What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2019?
Growth per se is not our objective.  We will expand so long as we can successfully help members of Chartered Accountants Ireland take their first steps into the interim world and to improve their ability to connect up with potential clients and deliver quality services once engaged.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Recognised as the go to place for companies who have a temporary or part time need for senior finance resources who have experience of delivering interim services.