‘Rent an Exec’ Services Grow

Mar 19, 2009

By George Anderson

A growing number of unaffiliated executives
in California are finding they can make a living working in a high-level
capacity on a temporary basis for a wide range of businesses.

Flexperience, a firm that specializes in placing executives on
a temporary basis in marketing, human resources, finance, legal and other
disciplines, has found a large talent pool in its home market of California.

Sally Thornton,
a co-founder of Flexperience, told abc7news.com, “We
saw a bunch of highly-skilled talent who said, ‘I love to work, I just
don’t want to work 80 hours anymore.'”

Tisa Beene,
a certified public accountant is one of the new generation of
temporary executives. She told abc7news,
“Just the fact that I’m able to do CFO consulting for two startups in
three-days a week, I think kind of says it all.”

For the companies
doing the hiring, a temp exec can be valuable while a permanent worker
is off on maternal or some other form of leave. Hiring high priced talent
is also less expensive than having someone on payroll full-time.

“The people that you get are not only
highly qualified, but they are very motivated, they’re very engaged, and
it’s a win-win for both sides,” said Elaine Miller, a client of Flexperience.

Discussion Questions: Considering the economy
and other factors, does hiring temporary executive talent make sense
for companies in retailing and related businesses? What areas do you
think executives can be best put to work on a temporary basis?

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "‘Rent an Exec’ Services Grow"

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Ian Percy
8 years 8 months ago

I think Mel is on to it. It’s primarily a matter of ‘fit’. What very few organizations do in renting or hiring executives is consider where the organization is its life cycle. It is not a matter of finding any old exec with a great track record and a whack of experience…it’s a matter of finding one who has the style and leadership DNA that matches the stage of development the company is heading into. Leaders who launch a company are not usually the ones who can grow it or transform it. This is why ‘founders’ usually end up destroying the very company they created. On this subject I’d highly recommend a book by Dr. Peter Robertson titled “Always Change a Winning Team.”

Kai Clarke
8 years 8 months ago

This is a great concept that if implemented well, offers companies leadership and experience on the turn of a dime. It allows for “instant management” in an era where this is clearly needed. Best yet, it allows for companies to create quick alternatives in their management during periods of rapid growth or contraction.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
8 years 8 months ago

Sure, it makes sense and I didn’t have to talk to a consultant to come to this conclusion. Out’a work, need to work, take what’s available!

Gene Detroyer
8 years 8 months ago
I have strong disagreement here. This is not consulting by another name. This is something very different. And, while this may be something new in the U.S. it is something quite common in the rest of the world and standard in Europe. Check out LinkedIn. There are almost 100,000 people calling themselves interim executives. There are over 360 groups for interim executives. How about recruiters that specialize in searching to fill interim positions? Almost all are located in Europe. Rent-an-executive (or interim) situations may have a term as short as several months or as long as several years. It provides companies with the ability to ideally match the company’s needs with the right executive. Be aware, we aren’t just talking about functional executives. These situations include Managing Directors, CEOs and Chairmen. Why should a company make a permanent hire of an individual who specializes in start-ups, turn-arounds, or transition management? What does the company do with that person when the start-up enters the next phase of the product life cycle, or the turn-around is complete… Read more »
Carol Spieckerman
8 years 8 months ago

Echoing Steven’s point, as a retail consulting firm, the fastest growing part of our business could very well be called “rent an exec.” We are increasingly being called in to temporarily bridge leadership gaps within vendor organizations and these engagements are some of our most rewarding and effective. We’re finding that companies get tired of talking to themselves and are more open to leveraging objective, out-of-enterprise talent that they can trust and that has their best interests at heart. Sometimes this seems to be the ONLY way to uncover and break down entrenched political systems, gain new perspective and reduce unforced errors.

David Livingston
8 years 8 months ago

I’ve been making a living do that for the past 16 years. It works pretty well to work for a retailer that doesn’t need a full-time expert, just every now and then. Like another panelist said, it’s basically consulting.

Mel Kleiman
8 years 8 months ago

Just like when leasing a car, if you do your homework and make sure about what you want, you are able to get more car for your money, and when you are though with it, you are able to return it and walk away from the deal. If you really like the car and want to keep it, you can buy it out from the lease.

Just as with hiring a regular employee, make sure to do all your homework, and that you are getting great value for what you are paying.

Steve Montgomery
8 years 8 months ago

Hiring temp executives is consulting by another name. Many consulting companies today use the “1099 – JIT” model where they utilize a pool of people with whom they have established a relationship.

As a consultancy, we have always thought that accessing talent as you need it makes a lot of sense. It provides companies skill sets that they might not otherwise need or be able to afford on a permanent basis.

I am not sure that there is an area where doing so would not work–except those where a long-term engagement becomes too expensive.

Liz Crawford
8 years 8 months ago

Confederacies of workers is the new direction the labor force–regardless of the recession.

Flexible specialized workers, able to move on and off projects, allows for the labor force to meet the needs of a shifting spot market. The economy and its needs for labor changes quickly today, given the rate of technological change, shifting demographics, and the global marketplace. The days of a robust fixed staff may be becoming a thing of the past.

Bernice Hurst
8 years 8 months ago

Not sure why this is allegedly either clever or new. Consultancies, and especially networks of consultants, have been around for a long time. Where they become a potential minefield is the conflict between what the experts want/need to earn and believe they are worth versus the outsourcer’s desire or expectation of getting a bargain.

Ray Grikstas
Ray Grikstas
8 years 8 months ago

Agree with Bernice. Nothing new here. The tech sector has operated this way for some time–*frequently* at the CEO level.

In fact, I think it was “The Economist” that printed (some years ago); “CEOs long ago went into business for themselves!” Nothing wrong with that, BTW. I do, however, think that significant disconnect comes from regular employees not grasping their new CEO’s altered business relationship (short-term, for-profit consulting) and still expecting execs to act like dependable father figures. This can undermine a lot of what the new ‘CEO’ is trying to achieve.


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