Portfolio Career for Executives
Episode 78 - Portfolio career: What is it, and is it for you? - featuring Jacinta Whelan
Portfolio career: What is it, and is it for you?
In 2020 at the height of job losses and pandemic lockdown, I interviewed my guest, Jacinta Whelan, for the first time. At that time, my goal was to capture her expertise in interim work to understand the potential opportunities that professionals could consider as the pandemic unfolded and we had zero to no permanent roles advertised.
None of my interviews, however, address only a point in time. I would encourage you to listen to that first episode, episode number 37. There will be a link to it in the show notes to learn about Jacinta's background and career story and hear her discuss the evolution of the gig economy, its opportunities, and challenges. I felt it would be repetitive for my long-term listeners, who may have already listened to that episode, to go through some of those points again.
In this episode, we dive into the future of work and potentially the future of your career if you choose to move towards the portfolio career style.
Jacinta Whelan is an author, thought leader, and popular speaker on the concept of Interim Executives, Portfolio Careers, and future ways of working. She leads the Melbourne office of Watermark Search International, an executive search specialist firm recruiting permanent and interim managers and board members. Jacinta has over 25 years of experience starting and leading Interim businesses in Hong Kong, New York, and Australia. She advises corporates and governments on the Executive Interim marketplace. She is regularly asked to speak to Boards and business leaders looking to understand the future of work for senior executives and adopt new ways to engage executive talent. In fact, for Jacinta, the future of work has well and truly arrived – it is the NOW of work, and it is part and parcel of building a portfolio career. In her words, "The paradigm has shifted in how we engage with work, and both individuals and companies are questioning what it means for them."
Jacinta and her colleague Caroline McAuliffe have co-authored a book, The Rise of the Interim Executive: A Guide to Navigate Your Success. This book is out this month and a must-read for professionals keen to move now or in the future towards interim work. I have five copies to give away to listeners. All you need to do is give this podcast 5 stars and write a review on iTunes or the Apple podcast app. Send me a screenshot with your postal address, and I will send you a brand new, off the print copy of the book. This is a first in best-dressed promotion, and I only have 5 copies, so please hurry - you don't want to miss out! On the episode show notes, you will find my email address, or you can DM me the photo and your address on any of my social media platforms. I'm sure you have by now found me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Jacinta and her colleague Caroline McAuliffe have co-authored a book, The Rise of the Interim Executive: A Guide to Navigate Your Success. This book is out this month and a must-read for professionals who are keen to move now or in the future towards interim work.
About our guest, Jacinta Whelan
A partner with Watermark Executive Search, Jacinta is an author, thought leader, and popular speaker on the concept of Interim Executives, Portfolio Careers, and future ways of working. She leads the Melbourne office of Watermark and has over 25 years of experience starting and leading Interim businesses in Hong Kong, New York, and Australia.
Jacinta advises corporates and governments on the Executive Interim marketplace. She is regularly asked to speak to Boards and business leaders looking to stay abreast of how organizations are engaging executive talent. The future of work has well and truly arrived – it is the NOW of work. The paradigm has shifted in how we engage with work, and both individuals and companies are questioning what it means for them.
Jacinta has a BA Bus, is a GAICD (2008), a Harvard Business School Alumni (2018).
How to connect with Jacinta
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
05:15 - The job market as we enter Q2 of 202
12:25 - What is a portfolio career
15:10 - Who is a perfect candidate for portfolio work?
18:09 - Who should avoid it?
20:10 - What is the future of work?
30:53 - Jacinta explained her framework to help interim executives
33:22 - The myths surrounding interim work
Transcript of this episode
Renata: In 2020, at the height of job losses and pandemic lockdown, I interviewed my guest Jacinta Whelan for the first time. At that time, my goal was to capture her expertise in interim work to understand the potential opportunities that professionals could consider as the pandemic unfolded, and we had zero to no permanent roles advertised. None of my interviews, however, address only a point in time, and I would encourage you to listen to that first episode, it’s episode number 37, and there will be a link to it in the show notes to learn about Jacinta’s background and career story, and hear her discuss the evolution of the gig economy, its opportunities, and challenges. I felt like it would be repetitive for my long-term listeners, who may have already listened to that episode, to go through some of those points again. In this episode, we dive into the future of work and what could be potentially the future of your career if you choose to move towards the portfolio career style.
Renata: Jacinta Whelan is an author, thought leader, and popular speaker on the concept of Interim Executives, Portfolio Careers, and future ways of working. She leads the Melbourne office of Watermark Search International, an executive search specialist firm recruiting permanent and interim managers as well as board members. Jacinta has over 25 years of experience starting and leading Interim businesses in Hong Kong, New York, and Australia. She advises corporates and governments on the Executive Interim marketplace. She is regularly asked to speak to Boards and business leaders looking to understand the future of work for senior executives and adopt new ways to engage executive talent. In fact, for Jacinta, the future of work has well and truly arrived – it is the NOW of work, and it is part and parcel with building a portfolio career. In her words, “The paradigm has shifted in how we engage with work, and both individuals and companies are questioning what it means for them.”
Renata: Jacinta and her colleague Caroline McAuliffe have co-authored a book, The Rise of the Interim Executive: A Guide to Navigate Your Success. This book is out this month and a must-read for professionals who are keen to move now or in the future towards interim work. I have five copies to give away to listeners. All you need to do is give this podcast 5 stars and write a review on iTunes or the Apple podcast app, send me a screenshot with your postal address, and I will send you a brand new, off the print copy of the book. This is a first in best-dressed promotion, and I only have 5 copies, so please hurry - you don’t want to miss out! On the episode show notes, you will find my email address, or you can DM me the photo and your address on any of my social media platforms. I’m sure you have by now found me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Now, let’s listen to my conversation with Jacinta. Please sit back and enjoy.
Renata: All right. So this is the second time we catch up on this podcast. I refer people back to the first podcast to learn more about you and your background, and what you do. We don't need to go through that all again. They can listen to, let's call it part one with Jacinta Whelan, and let's focus on part two now. We're recording this at the beginning of the second quarter of 2021. A lot of people are now seeing the pandemic as moving away from its sort of heavy crisis and organizations starting to crystallize again, after sort of this melting turbulence that we had in 2020. What are you seeing with your clients and the assignments that are coming your way?
Jacinta: What I am seeing is an optimism. I’m seeing resilience, which is really nice to see. I feel like COVID blocked everyone for six. It was unplanned clearly, and it probably exposed quite a bit of underlying issues for companies that were there. And so what I'm seeing is companies coming into 2021, and hearing from them, and filtering this down from lots of conversations is that there's a plan forward, but it's built-in some resilience. So if we need to stop for a period, if there's a lockdown or whatever, that's now all sort of factored in. Which is great to have resilience-building accompanies companies because we've never had to have it before. If I look at last year, there were phases to COVID.
Jacinta: So there was a real triage phase, right at the beginning, we're ready to get on quickly and very quickly to see if we could work from home, set up the computers, all those for things. So there were certain needs in functional requirements that clients can last for in the beginning of the pandemic, which was a lot of sort of finance people to make sure that the cash flow, HR people to make sure that they could get work from home. And what's happened is we've swung into 2021 is, companies now looking sort of planning forward and needing help on more operating models or more redesigning their digital experience or their customers. So we're moving forward with the requirements of what people need. So, that's been really positive to say there's a sort of a cautious optimism in the market.
Renata: Yes. And do you have a feeling that with the vaccination rollout, that there is even more of a certainty in sentiment in the market, or that hasn't really shown this as a trend for you? I asked this because I called a friend in Israel for a podcast interview a couple of weeks ago, and he's like, yeah, we've rolled out the vaccinations, but we haven't really thought things through yet. We haven't had the time. You know how you only have so much headspace, and I guess that process for Israel was just such a big thing to roll it out so quickly that they were still kind of thinking things through, and businesses didn't sort of catch up to what that meant in terms of opening up the economy and the country. Are you kind of thinking of what that means?
Jacinta: Yeah, I mean, what I was going to say is it feels like that the vaccinations are parallel to business because vaccinations, public health, and it's government, and it’s sort of happening over here. And I feel that businesses are getting on with doing what they need to do for their business. And there's an overlay of, you know, are we allowed to travel, and some of that will happen internationally, but it's another one of the uncontrollables. So businesses are really just trying to focus on what they can control. This all will happen and in time, but there's a slight disconnect still. It's not, we've got the vaccination that changes everything for business. I'm not getting a sense of that from [inaudible]. I don't hear them talk about it at all in relation to any executive hires or decisions they're making.
Renata: Yeah. So this morning, we had a masterclass that you delivered. Thank you for doing that for the group coaching session. And health was a big sector for you. And you said, if you could, you would only work with that sector. It's such an important sector. What did you mean by that? Can you explain for the podcast listeners what's happening in the health sector? If anyone wants to transition into that sector, what would they have to do?
Jacinta: So, I think health is such a key driver of how the economy is going to continue to grow. So my comment today was if I had to just pick one sector of where I could be kept busy, and where the market will be busy, and when there'll be opportunities, and where people will be spending money, I would pick health. I don't just pick one sector, but for those reasons of where's the activity going to be, where is a combination of both public and private money being thrown. And then you've got all the overlays of an aging population and all these social overlays that come into what makes the market busy. And for that reason, I think health is only going to continue for, you know, when I say for the rest of my career, you know, for the foreseeable future of the next 10-20 years. I think health is going to be a really interesting and vibrant and busy and active market. So that's sort of my comment on why health. And then the second part of the question, just remind me?
Renata: I can't remember. [laugh]
Jacinta: How do you transition to help?
Renata: Oh, that's true. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.
Jacinta: So, my comment there is, if you are thinking about changing careers, you should always be thinking about, if I'm going to train or spend time and money re-skilling myself, you want to know where you're reskilling yourself that there's a bit of a future in that. So, for instance, I wouldn't be risking myself in, you know, for Kodak cameras because clearly, cameras have moved, and it's all digital now. So, it doesn't make it an easy transition, but I do think health is going to have to be open to bringing in people from other sectors because there are not enough numbers for what they need to grow, and they've got to start to think differently. So I think it's a lovely opportunity to cross sectors if it's what you want, you know, so there's gotta be a purpose and a passion behind it. And, if you then think about where's a good investment in the future, and how do I retrain myself, absolutely consider health as one of those options.
Renata: Okay, wonderful. Now you are an expert in portfolio career, and you've just finished writing a book with a colleague of yours. Let's define for the listeners what a portfolio career is. Give me the full spectrum, and then tell me the sort of area that you mostly work with.
Jacinta: Yeah, definitely. I'm going to my book here because we've got a whole lot of definitions and things, but let me not sort of do a dictionary definition. A portfolio career is when you are switching from a traditional permanent role where you trade time for money and a salary with one employer. And then when a portfolio career is, is when you sort of say, that's not for me any longer. And I now am looking to have multiple inputs of where I fund my lifestyle, where I get my money from. And my visual for that is a funnel which I'm, you know, quite visual in how I think about it. So at the top of the funnel, I picture various buckets. So let's say there's four different buckets. A portfolio can be represented by this because each of those buckets at the top, you fill up with opportunity.
Jacinta: So one of them might be something like if you're an executive and you're moving to a portfolio career, you might say, I'll do some board roles, and some of them will be paid, and some will be not paid. You might do some consultancy work. And another bucket, you might have a non-work-related income. You might be a share trader. You might flip properties. You might have recently gotten inheritance. There's so many different buckets that you could fill. Another important bucket that's part of a portfolio career is one that's not revenue-generating. So while all this is ultimately looking to feel down to how do you have enough money, when people are in a portfolio career, often they're saying, what do I want my life to be made up? Some of it needs to be money, but others might be more lifestyle or purpose and passion projects. So there might be people that say I'm happy to work a day a week in a paid role because I want to babysit my grandchildren or look after elder care. Maybe I want to volunteer anything from Vinnies to provost to, you know, anywhere. So what they're saying is their portfolio doesn't always have to be revenue-producing. Part of it usually is, but part of its lifestyle. A long answer, that's probably much longer than a little dictionary definition.
Renata: No, that's great. It makes me think of an Uber driver that I spoke to once when I was in San Francisco visiting. And, you know, it's the sort of thing that, because we're in Australia, I feel like we have a very different understanding of how this can work. And this was a young man, and he picked me up from the hotel to take me to the airport, and he was asking a lot of questions and wanted to talk, and I asked him, ‘so do you do Uber every day?’ And he said, ‘Oh no, nobody does Uber every day.’ And I'm like, ‘well, in Australia, some of them do.’ He said, ‘no, I only do it Tuesdays. That's my Uber day. And then I have a startup with a couple of friends, and we have an Airbnb together as well with a few other friends, and that was his life.
Renata: So, you know, Uber was the day that he went to the gym and did his supermarket shopping as well. So it was the day that he got out of the house. So he used that time in between picking up people to do a lot of things out of the house. And that was the only day he was out of the house. The other days he was deep into his startup mode. And then he had a room in the house where he would do his Airbnb. And I guess I'm giving that example because you can be a portfolio professional at any stage and at every sort of income level, would you agree?
Jacinta: Exactly. Yeah, couldn't agree more. And, the whole gig economy is a very broad definition. And my personal work is at the executive level, but even more and more the younger generation, if you're just entering the workforce, you come in with a gig mindset. So, you know, your Uber driver example is that's how they think. They think anything else is strange. So the thought of having a startup happening, developing an app, you know, brewing beer with a couple of mates on the side and, I do a couple of days freelance writing or graphic design or whatever it is that you think, that sort of cobbling together, if you will, of different activities to keep you busy, is actually, people are saying it's more fulfilling because, they're only doing it, but they've got the option, and they've got a couple of balls in the air so that if one falls, your whole life doesn't fall apart.
Jacinta: So, if all of a sudden your graphic design work drops off, or there's not as much work in that space, then you've got some other things that you're actively involved in. And, you're already involved in the network that you don't have to start from scratch every time. So I think more and more people are going to have a portfolio of things and it will become the norm as opposed to a traditional one job and that's all you have.
Renata: Yeah. Who is it not for, Jacinta? That's important too.
Jacinta: A portfolio career is, the people who do it well tell us that, it's a stage of life decision. So there'll be different stages of life for people where it's not right. So it's not that it's not right for any one type of person. I think there are stages of your life when it's easier to be a portfolio career and therefore easier not to be a portfolio career person at certain stages.
Jacinta: And so if we look at that and we do a typical career stage when you start young, and you start out, you probably don't have as many commitments or responsibilities. So, you can have different income streams and different ways of working. There's still an essence of a stage of life where known income and a known employer can help you when you're looking for things, like looking for getting a mortgage still there's absolutely products that you can have if you don't have regular income. But we all know it's easier still to get a mortgage if you can show you've got regular work. People sometimes tell us when they're in those early years of little kids and needing to have a really set routine that, a set job that fits around all of that, where you can plan and work a schedule is easier. So that would suggest that portfolio might not be as helpful at that stage. But then we sort of hear, as people get to a more mature stage and they tell us things like their kids are grown up and, maybe the mortgage is all paid for, then a portfolio kicks back in and is really attractive to people. So I think it's not that it's any one person it's not right for, it's what your life circumstances look like at the moment or at that point in time.
Renata: But from a future of work perspective, do you find that employers are moving more towards this unregulated space of interim work, contract work, and getting people to work for them without the need to provide leave or entitlements that you would normally see in full-time permanent roles? Because that's the feeling, we get from the news.
Jacinta: Yeah, I think that's one narrative that's out there. We work with the government and Senate inquiries, et cetera, to make sure that there is regulation about the gig economy and that the OECD countries are probably better placed to put a floor on supporting people. There's a supply and demand side here, and a lot of the narrative suggests that it's the big bad companies that want this, and they're the ones forcing people to do it. And I think that loses the part of the narrative that says, this is a people's choice. So it's the supply side of people who are saying, this is how I actively choose to want to engage with work. And yes, you have to have regulation around all of that, regulation always follows innovation.
Jacinta: So if the way we work changes, what you'll find is the way you work changes and the rules have to catch up a little bit behind you. So without a doubt, we're at a stage in the evolution of this that the rules probably do have to catch up a bit. But I think the intent of governments and of organizations is, it's not there to screw people over, it's that more and more companies are saying, the model that works best for us is to have part of our workforces as permanent, traditional permanent, and that’s business as usual. So what we know has to happen, we'll have enough people for that, but the very nature of business is you've got to explore new things, do projects, there's things that happen outside business as usual. So more companies are saying the smartest approaches for that concertina, where we need extra, why don't we bring in the right skill at the right time to deliver what we need? We still keep a core. So it's not as though permanent employment is gone forever. There will absolutely be a time and a place for this, but what I think there's an acceptance to say, people want this, and companies benefit from it. And so that's created a market.
Renata: Yeah. One of the good things that we have done in the past on the podcast was interview these amazing experts in the recruitment sector in Australia, like Jeff Morgan, Geoff Slade, and they've been operating in recruitments since the eighties, I think since the seventies. So the things that we've discussed with them in previous episodes is the fact that we used to rely a lot on employers to take care of our careers. And, you mentioned that regulation follows innovation, and I have a feeling also that the way that we manage our careers will have to change with that innovation. Are you seeing that? Do you find that it's difficult for candidates to adapt to a new way of thinking about their careers now that this portfolio way of operating and the contracts are changing?
Jacinta: I don't see that people find it difficult. I think once they know it, know about it, there's a self-interest piece here that there should be no one as interested in your own career as you. And so it's, you know when you actually think about the concept that the employer's job is to keep training you and to keep developing you, it's actually a funny concept to really think because it's no one's job to tell you what you need to do to keep your career going. It should be motivated by you because then it's going to be what you want and directed by you and push you in the direction of where you want to go. If someone tells you, you need to go and do a coding course because that's what suits the company, but it doesn't suit you, then it actually doesn't further your career.
Jacinta: So, I actually think it's a great thing that ownership of your career, ownership of your learning, ownership of your development sits, back with you. And I think even when it was perceived to be in the company, and the company trained you, the best people still would have driven where they wanted that training, and they should have driven what they wanted that training. So I actually think the right place for it to sit was finally landed back where it should be. And the people who get that will do well. There are always people who would like someone else to hand feed them what they should be doing, but I actually think that's actually quite a good differentiator between someone you want to employ and someone you don't want to employ.
Renata: Yeah, let's talk about your book, ‘The rise of the interim executive’, because interim executive placement is a type of work that you can do as a freelancer, but can you describe what interim executive is?
Jacinta: Yeah, so we started the conversation by talking about a portfolio career. And one bucket that could have been filled up was work doing interim executive-level assignments is what I work at, but it doesn't always have to be in my part of the world. It could be that you combine parts of your bucket, and one of the buckets is, what is your skill? What is your craft? And then doing bite-size assignments or projects in that craft. So you line up with a company where you're helping them deliver on a project that you've got expertise in for a period in time. It's not forever, it's not an ongoing employment contract, but it could be anything from a week to six months to two years. You line up next to a company and say our values and our offering suit each other for a point in time.
Jacinta: And it's often been referred to as the Hollywood model because Hollywood are some of the earliest adopters of getting the right people together to deliver on a project for a finite point in time. They come together, they make the movie, and then they disband. And so, the nature of an interim executive is someone who comes to a company for a point in time to deliver whatever is their expertise, and that forms part of this bucket of offering to say, I can keep busy doing this, but I've probably also got other things I do. And then that worked for an interim executive. Where do you find that work? It can either be through your own network or through a broken model such as what watermark does. But you know, it very much grew up from a self-sustaining model.
Jacinta: So what would've happened was an executive finished an executive career, and the traditional model was you either go and be a board member or go and play golf and retire. And then what happened was some people would sort of call back a friend and say, you're really good at that, can we borrow you for your knowledge? And so that was sort of the earliest iteration of this. And so there's a lot of people that I talk to that say, Oh, I've been doing this for ages, but I just didn't call it interim executive. So it's evolved, and the evolution of it means that it goes from just a self-sustaining network of someone calling you because they remember you, to you then sort of out there promoting what you do to a marketplace where there's brokers involved, where it's getting more and more maturity, and, I suppose, acceptance.
Renata: Yes. What I like about this is it gives people with extensive experience in a specific area more than just a board position to consider. Like, you know how people are experienced, and then they think, Oh, you know, I should start thinking about boards, and I should start thinking about being an executive director. It's not for everyone, first of all, and there are not that many positions out there. But you can still keep yourself busy with those sorts of consulting, coaching, mentoring, and basically hands-on short-term opportunities without it being full-on 24/7 types of roles that you had in the past. Would you agree?
Jacinta: I couldn't agree more. And what I pick up on there is that hands-on. So a key difference between boards, you know, that default position of, well, I'll just go on a board. And you did right, it's not for everyone because the governance role is to advise and to oversee. Whereas there's still a lot of executives. If you're in an interim role, you're still doing, and there's a key difference. I've had some people who do boards, miss the doing, where they sort of say, I can see a problem. I can see the executive. And I feel like, just give it to me, and I could solve this, give me a week, and we can sort this out. But that's not the role of a board. Their role is to suggest and to advise, and some people like to combine the two because they're sitting at a governance level, but every now and then, they step back down into the doing level.
Jacinta: And there's some people who just like the doing and saying, I don't really just want to sit or vice versa. There's some people who like the governance but don't like the doing. So I think it's nice that there's now more options for people. And what we like to think is that we've wrapped our arms around this brain, trust of senior Australian talent. And isn't it wonderful that we can still use it, and there's a model and a way to engage that talent that doesn't have to squeeze itself back into where we need to offer them a permanent job because it’s not what these people want. But we can access them. We can tap their experience and wisdom, and they're happy, and we're happy. Feels like a nice marketplace to develop.
Renata: Yeah. A big chunk of your book, a few chapters that you and Kara dedicated to a framework that you've developed. I don't want you to go into too much detail because I want people to go and buy the book, but can you explain? Give us a helicopter view about the framework that you came up with.
Jacinta: Yeah, we call it the three E's. And so what we've done is we've broken being an interim executive into what we call the environment, the executive, and the experience. And there's a lot to this and a lot to unpack. So the reason we wanted to put it into sort of, again, I'll use the analogy of buckets, because the environment talks about why this is even a thing, some of the macro reasons, some of the research, some of the data, and it gives it context. So what's the environment that's setup that this is now a way of working? And then you've got the executive, which really draws down into what type of people do this? Why do they want to do it? What type of backgrounds do they come from? What do they need to consider? Is this right for me?
Jacinta: So there's a whole lot to unpack with you as the individual. So we've looked at why it's even out there and why should I want to do it? And then the experience is really if I've now decided this is right for me and I've explored what it is, what does it really mean? What does it look like once it starts to get into the sort of the nitty-gritty of it? How often would I be busy? What rate would I be paid, and what type of companies want this? What would my day-to-day look like? So we've really tried to break it up so that you can absorb all of the data that sits underneath each of those things into a context that's got a frame around it, really. Because there might be parts of that where you say, I actually just want to understand why. And so I can just read that bit where you might sort of say, I know this for me. So let me just go straight to the experience and understand some of the, you know, break the myths. We’ve got a few tools or worksheets within the book where you can start to take your own experience and test yourself on some of the questions we've got to see if it is right for you. So that's really why we tried to put a framework over the top.
Renata: Excellent. Before we wrap up, are there any myths surrounding interim work or misconceptions that you would like to address? I mean, might as well do it now.
Jacinta: Well, they've got to read the book, Renata, right? [laugh]
Renata: That’s true. [laugh]
Jacinta: There's a section in the book called ‘myth-busting because some of the myths have evolved and have been probably answered over time, but they might still be out there. So, some people will say to us, ‘why do people do this? Can't they get a permanent job?’ So there's an assumption that this is a poor choice, or a poor man's choice type thing, or a second choice. And our counter to that would be when this is right for people, that's their plan A. And often, it reflects more on that individual asking us the question of why can't they get a permanent job, because they can't contextualize for themselves that they would ever work this way. So a lot of the myths that we've worked through really just pushing back on where the people themselves are. Another myth might be, you couldn't hire an interim into some of these really important jobs.
Jacinta: How do you have someone who can, day one, pick up a cloud complex organization. And we would counter that by saying, this is what people do time and time again, they come and they thrive in an environment where it's complex. You think on your feet. You solve problems in real-time because, of course, people can do something new. Because even if you're in a permanent job, you get thrown things that are new. So, why would people do it, is probably the biggest myth that I'd like to unpack. And have you got a myth? What do you hear about it?
Renata: No, I think that that's the myth that I've encountered because, I don't know if the listeners know, I have sort of wet my toes into interim work with Watermark and went through a few interviews. And I have felt that sometimes even the employers were curious to know as to why was I there as a candidate for an interim role, especially because they probably considered me fairly young to be opting into interim. And I know that you also thought I was fairly young when we first met. But people have different reasons why they opt into interim. And for me, flexibility in my work life was more important than anything because I have family overseas. I would love to see them. I know that plan didn't pan out the way I wanted because we're in lockdown mode in Australia, but ideally for me, the more flexibility I have, the better, so interim work. But now, you know, coaching, consulting, and doing what I do suits me way more than having a full-time permanent role so that I can work from anywhere, go visit my family and come back.
Renata: And so, you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You should just accept that that person really does want to do interim work and give them the time of the day so that they can present a good case.
Jacinta: Overall, it's usually a stage of life, and I think people have various risk profiles, and everyone is so different that you can't even give a common scenario. But themes that come through is when you suit people, they tell us things like, they're thinking differently about how they engage with work. Maybe some of the big commitments of life, from school fees and mortgages, are under control, or maybe they're not the only breadwinner in their family, that's covering that. So, the beauty of it is that there's no rules, so you can write your own rules. And there's much more of an acceptance that you don't have to just have a permanent job. I think that was the only option. So any option other than that was, maybe considered irresponsible or what's wrong with them or all these sort of myths, whereas when you unpack it, and most people would love to have options, and they're like, how do I get a piece of that?
Jacinta: And they have to weigh up their own risk profile, ‘could they do it?’ And is it right for them? So, I find interim is something that you've got to run towards interim, rather than run away from something else. So just because you're not happy in a permanent job doesn't make interim easy. You know, this has got to be something that's been driven on a couple of factors in your life. And is it your plan A, because other than that, then it is just filling in because you're not happy somewhere else or something's not working.
Renata: Yeah. I think another myth that I like to bust is when I have a client that comes to me, and they're happy with either interim or permanent, I make them choose. Frankly, you just don't have the breadth to actually tackle both strategically enough. And it is just as hard to tackle one than the other. And to have a crisp pitch for a headhunter or recruiter or hiring manager is actually more important than to say I'm open to any and every opportunity out there. So, if your stage of life means that you still need or want a permanent role, a full-time role, then that's what you need to run towards rather than saying, I want everything. And the fact that interim is highly reliant on you. If you want to keep yourself busy, you can't just leave your resume with somebody like yourself and sit and wait for the phone to ring. I mean, you could do that if you don't really need a job, but if you want to keep yourself busy, then you have to activate and engage and warm your connections and network to get opportunities and make that portfolio as rich as it can be. Because chances are, you're not going to call them the next day, right?
Jacinta: Oh yeah, that's right. No one's as interested in you being busy as you. And, I liked that you make people choose because, when I hear those words, I'm open to either, what it usually means is I really want a perm job, but I'm finding that hard. But I've got to convince you just that I'll do a bit of both because clearly that's what you do is interim. And so, I like you to push back and say, help me understand your motivation for doing this, which is a big part of the book. You know, the executive part, what's your motivation? Because if you come at this from the right place, then you’ve got a really good chance to be successful. But if you think this might solve other things that aren't working for you either, you don't like politics in your business, or you have been let go, and you need the safe coming a whole lot of things that you need to work through. There's no magic bullet for it. And a quick fix interim actually doesn't work. It's hard work. It's gotta be a choice. And, it can be absolutely fulfilling if it's right for you. So when I hear I'll do either, what I really hear is I'd like a perm job, but this might have to do for me for now.
Renata: Absolutely. And you know, well, I am a coach. So if people are working with me, my job is to make it easier for them. So if they’re finding it hard to find a permanent role, part of my job to help them make it easier. So there is no point in them pursuing interim as a plan B, let's just work on plan A and do a really good job at that. So, yeah, that's why we choose. But there are quite a few that are opting, you know, we were doing the group coaching now, and the first week is a very big self-reflection week. And one of the participants came back and said, Oh gosh, I just finished doing your homework and realized that I need to open a business. So it doesn't mean that they're going to open the business right away, but it means that career planning for this person requires them to maybe find a couple of jobs, but move towards opening a business within the next five years, eight years. You don't have to go from A to B right now. You want to validate that business idea. You want to make sure you have a good runway for it. And the same thing for interim work, if that's part of your future planning, you start warming up your leads and getting ready for it now, even if that's five years down the track, would you agree?
Jacinta: I can’t agree more. Yeah. You know, what is your product going to be? Make sure you activate your networks and not thinking a bit like when you go for board, executives who finish an executive career and say, and now I'll start looking for a board or now I'll start looking for... You should have been doing that work back here. Maybe going on one board there, because the journey to boards is hard as well. So there's absolutely things that you can be doing. The beauty of that is they actually serve you in the moment as well. So if you're activating networks and keeping them strong because you think you want them in the future, it's also helping you with the current. So, you know, if you're doing the right things right here at the time, then you'll be much better set up for the future, whatever that needs to look like, your own business or internal boards or whatever it is.
Renata: Excellent. Well, well, well, I think we've done a great job today. Where can people find your book?
Jacinta: They can find it at our website, https://www.theinterimexecutive.com.au
Renata: Well, I will have a copy of the cover in the blog because this is going to be an audio-only podcast. I will have the link in the episode show notes for everybody to find it quickly. And we will have some sort of a promotion for the listeners so that they can get a copy of, you know if they do something special for us. So I'll make sure that we add all of that to the introduction before.
Jacinta: And I'm really happy for your people on your podcast Renata. I’ll send it through once it's all launched with a bit of a discount as well.
Renata: Oh, excellent. Yeah, let's do that. All right. Thank you so much, Jacinta. It's been a pleasure once again to have you on board.
Jacinta: Thank you, Renata. See you later. Bye
Renata: It’s always a great pleasure to speak to Jacinta, and I always come back with new ideas to present to my clients after our chats. She is so knowledgeable and passionate about interim work, as you can tell from our chat.
Renata: Don’t forget I have 5 copies of Jacinta’s book to give away. The Rise of the Interim Executive: A Guide to Navigate Your Success. All you need to do is give this podcast 5 stars and write a review on iTunes or the Apple podcast app, send me a screenshot with your postal address, and I will send you a brand new, off the print copy of the book. This is a first in best-dressed promotion, and I only have 5 copies, so please hurry - you don’t want to miss out! You can send it to me by email or DM on any of my social media channels.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com