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Interim management through the years: a reflection on two decades

In 2024, Olivier van Outryve d'Ydewalle, senior principal, celebrates his 20th anniversary within the interim management division of recruitment specialist Robert Walters. This momentous occasion calls for a reflection on the past two decades and provides an opportunity to look ahead to the future of the interim management market.

How have you witnessed the interim management market evolve?

"The world has changed a lot in 2 decades. Compared to the old days, more and more women are now finding their way into interim management and that is an inspiring evolution, given the growing importance of ED&I (equality, diversity & inclusion)," says Olivier. "By age, too, I notice greater diversity. Where previously mainly senior professionals with 25 to 30 years of experience made the move to independence, today interim managers with 10 to 15 years of work experience are not uncommon. Independent status - which is in fact quite accessible in Belgium - offers the younger generation of professionals a varied and challenging career, which is also easy to combine with private life."

"Over the past 20 years, I have only seen the demand for interim managers grow," Olivier continues. "Organisations increasingly recognise the added value of an interim manager. This trend is particularly noticeable within fields such as finance, which I have focused on since the very beginning of my career at Robert Walters. In-depth technical skills in accounting and financial controlling are becoming increasingly valuable due to stricter regulations. This specific expertise allows interim managers to step straight into their roles, without extensive training programmes, which can be an essential solution for organisations with talent shortages. The growing demand for interim managers is not limited to finance; my colleagues within the HR and Operations divisions are also experiencing an increasing need for both executive experts and senior professionals with leadership experience."

What does the future hold for interim management?

I still see a lot of untapped potential in interim management today.

Olivier: "Often, interim managers are deployed operationally to deal with an immediate shortage of manpower, for example in the event of a long-term illness replacement. Usually, the focus remains on the specific tasks of the position in which the interim manager ends up. This short-term view is understandable, given that the shortage is problematic and needs to be solved quickly. However, interim managers, thanks to their external perspective and varied experience, can add much more value by being involved in issues such as process optimisation during or even subsequent to the replacement assignment. As such, organisations would benefit from taking a long-term view and looking at the bigger picture. By not rushing the selection process but taking the time to work with a specialised recruitment agency to pick the right candidate, the hired interim manager will ultimately flourish much more within the company. I am convinced that organisations will increasingly discover this largely unexploited potential in the coming period, which will further boost the popularity of interim management."

Finally, a personal question: what has motivated you to remain active in the interim management domain for two decades?

"Variety is the first word that comes to my mind. This is a real people business, so I encounter different clients and candidates every day. Moreover, no two assignments are the same and every day brings a new challenge. I also enjoy working in an increasingly important field, and this within a growing company. The evolution I have been able to witness closely over the past 20 years is very satisfying and still makes me tick," concludes Olivier.


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Find out more about the Robert Walters interim management services or contact our team. Are you looking to hire an interim manager? Send us your assignment and discover how we can help you.

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Olivier van Outryve d'Ydewalle

Senior Principal | Brussels
Phone: +32 497 52 66 80

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