Translation of article in Tietoasiantuntija magazine (ISSN 1795-7338) 2-3/2018
Original article by Otto Aalto
Translation by Tina Nyfors
The Finnish markets have lacked a player, who could effectively combine offering both operative and administrative know-how on demand. Interim management in Finland normally refers to transition process at the top executive level.
“Using interim managers as experts or change managers is still rare. In Finland it is seldom that one sees this being used in situations that need quick reactions and learning capabilities, bring in know-how and help organizations acquiring more knowledge. The model of action has simply been missing from Finnish markets”, says Chief Executive Office and founder of Ferovalo, Ms Elina Liehu.
Ferovalo was founded specifically to help companies find high-calibre executives to act in interim and project management roles. This kind of services can now be bought from Ferovalo and other players as needed, for example for few days a week.
Contracting experienced professionals is a rising trend
In Finland, there are a lot of seasoned professionals, who are interested to contribute their knowledge to business life outside of traditional employment models. As we move on, there will be more and more of them. Usually these professionals have so much experience, that they are happy to share it with the rest of the organization, and consequently train less experienced people. This is an increasing trend amongst high-level professionals. There are several reasons in the background for it – as many as there are individuals. Single-minded careerism, long being a norm for professionals, is no longer the only way to do things. According to international research, this trend is increasing, with US taking the lead.
Finland trails behind in the megatrend, and buyers don’t often have experience on how to acquire and integrate the knowledge available to them. Thus, the Finnish buyers should think knowledge acquisition more as a contractual arrangement than as a recruitment process, as the latter tends to slow reaction and decision-making time down significantly.
Mr. Bo Lönnqvist became the Chief Operating Office for Space Nation, as the CEO of this growth company found that he didn’t have sufficient time for operative management. Mr. Lönnqvist has found the interaction with Ferovalo relaxed, well-organized but most importantly, very effective. He praises especially the communication during the contracting process.
Transparency and openness are key
“Majority of Ferovalo’s experts – whom we call members of the network – have heard of us from their acquaintances who have recommended us. We are extremely transparent about the assignments. Also, our fee structure is equally transparent. This pleases both the experts and client companies. Open communication platform keeps everybody up to date, and our members can make independent decisions as they please. We also organize events and other communal functions. Bringing people together creates a vibrant atmosphere where usually something positive happens every time”, explains Ms. Liehu.
Client companies often expect that the expert can tackle the situation within hours. Specific expertise of a particular area or problem is often required.
“I would like to see the companies broadening their perspective a little – often functional expertise in other industries is equally relevant, and so people with this kind of background are equally qualified. After all, it’s the expertise that matter. Business logic is very similar in many industries. An outsider from another industry can also see the issue slightly differently, which can be helpful. But at the end of the day, one thing remains – most of all, the companies expect a self-starter who tackles issues hands-on”, says Ms Liehu.
Growth and internationalization
“Right now, interim management is becoming well understood in many countries. We are entering a new kind of employment world. The national borders and limits to expertise are disappearing”, Ms Liehu comments.
Ferovalo intends to expand its piloted business model to a global level. This is logical, as the contributing experts consider mobility and global assignments normal. Many are in a phase in their lives where mobility is possible, and indeed welcome.
Tools for Board Members
Last winter, Ferovalo launched a service for companies and owners to search board members. The service offers companies a tool for identifying the right kind of board members with necessary skills set and provide experienced professionals a handy way to find interesting board positions.
“Until now, board members have been recruited either through direct search or amongst acquaintances. Direct search is expensive for most SMEs, and looking for new expertise amongst old acquaintances can be a fool’s errand. Having talked with a numbers of board chairmen and owners, I concluded that there is a clear need for a service like this”, says Ms Liehu.
“The main responsibility of the board of directors is to support the CEO, and to make the company flourish. As in operative management, also in board work different situations call for different expertise. Quite often, it is particularly operative experience that brings a lot of value to the board work”, Ms Liehu explains.
Ferovalo’s board service has raised significant interest both amongst professionals and companies alike. Many of the experts work in larger companies either in top management or demanding professional level. The advantage of Ferovalo’s board service is that it enables a discreet search, on both sides.
“Many professionals would have a lot to contribute to board work. Ferovalo matches the needs with the capabilities, and brings the opportunities forth”, concludes Ms Liehu.