While their tenure may be time-limited, interim executives have plenty to offer in the high-stakes world of private equity and venture capital. Experienced interim CFOs have the confidence and the know-how to lead start-ups, fast-growing young businesses, and even established enterprise companies through their toughest business challenges.
And by working tirelessly to set a company up for long-term financial success, interim leaders can leave a lasting legacy.
Whether you’re looking to fill a mission-critical position temporarily during a sensitive executive search, or you’ve grown frustrated with your current leadership, or even if your existing CFO takes an unexpected leave of absence, interim executives — and the interim executive search process — provide an expedient and effective solution.
To help companies reach their true potential while they navigate unanticipated vacancies at the executive level, Focus Search Partners’ interim executive search practice quickly finds the best talent for your business so your stakeholders can enjoy immediate benefits.
How can interim executive leadership benefit your business?
Here are 10 ways an interim executive can add value to your organization.
Credibility: experienced leadership for major challenges
Retaining an interim executive leader provides an opportunity for your company to access the very best talent in your industry. Talent you may not otherwise have the time or capacity to employ.
Typically, interim executives are highly experienced, veteran leaders with the vision and fearlessness to guide your company through its most challenging transitional times. Candidates are carefully vetted and often have experience overcoming the very hurdles your company is facing!
Independence: new eyes & fresh ideas
When you need someone who is unapologetically independent and has the business acumen and experience to lead creatively, interim leadership is where it’s at. With the trust and support of key stakeholders, interim leaders have the freedom to selflessly explore new directions and make the best decisions for your company because they have been tasked with making significant change at critical moments.
Innovation: bold leadership for the road ahead
The very best interim leaders are innovative problem solvers who are willing to make the kind of bold decisions, in alignment with stated objectives, that lay the foundation for future success.
“From an innovation standpoint, the timeline for interim leaders is very different. These executives are in the position for a very set period, so they’ll have determined a few key goals, in consultation with the board or CEO that they’re looking to achieve on a finite timeline … which means they’re already thinking in more innovative ways,” said Monica Foster, Focus Search Partners’ managing director.
Agility: adapt to changing priorities
As the economy continues to shift and businesses scramble to accommodate a rapidly changing world, agility is in high demand. And it’s a demand that interim leadership is built for.
Ere Media notes that interim leadership offers organizations the flexibility to add much-needed expertise to respond to market changes or to capitalize on specific opportunities. For medium to large corporations it even gives them the chance to act like their smaller, more inherently agile start-up competitors, moving quickly to take advantage of innovation and side-step prolonged, permanent staffing protocols.
“The intensity of the pace, the collaboration — interim financial executives are working with all leaders, across the aisle,” noted Foster. “An interim leader is all about getting stuff done. They’re advising companies and teams based on their years of experience. They’re being paid to advise and pull from their extensive toolkit of experience. Innovative thought always comes out of this kind of agility.”
Confidence: projecting strength and building trust
Great interim leaders have magnetism and confidence to spare. Because of this, they’re able to quickly step in, assess the political and interpersonal landscape, and then effectively communicate with authority.
“One of our recent interim CFO placements was called upon by the board to evaluate the existing COO’s performance. The board was split in terms of their satisfaction with the company’s COO. Because our candidate was a neutral party, he could use his experience in the industry to take a close look at the data and the company’s financials to come up with an impartial rating,” recounted Foster. “Ultimately, he was able to tactfully deliver a verdict and help create a consensus.”
Stability: hold fast during uncertain times
Change can be scary. And stakeholders can be skittish. One of the best ways to reassure nervous investors or worried stockholders is to swiftly, and with great confidence, retain a stabilizing leader.
Another instance where stability is key? When an acquisition is just made. Often, private equity and venture capital firms want to see an experienced CFO at the table who can begin to professionalize the reporting and effectively manage the new investment. A top-notch interim leader can begin to implement the value creation plan while giving space and time to identify the perfect full-time CFO.
And let’s not forget the fortifying effect that an interim executive can have on your team. Waiting on a months-long executive search can be frustrating for employees and management alike. An interim leader can reassure your team while laying the groundwork for desired positive changes.
“One of the things that we really value in a candidate is the ability to remain calm among the chaos,” said Foster. “That kind of leadership presence is so important because it translates to stakeholders and staff. Great leaders, with great communication skills, quickly form strong relationships with their peers and reports by communicating what’s actually happening. We want leaders that bring a stabilizing force to a placement.”
Accountability: your company’s success is an interim executive’s success
In most instances, a top interim executive does what they do because of their skillset and temperament. They do it by choice and they do it because they thrive on the challenge and accomplishments.
Accountability is the glue that holds everything together. Although they don’t need to worry about performance reports, approval ratings, or annual bonuses, their reputations are built on the level of success they achieve in each placement they accept. And they need to meet the expectations set out for them at the start of the engagement to maintain that reputation.
Time: find the bandwidth to determine what you need
Need more time to find the perfect long-term hire? If you’re in the market for a candidate with an unusual skill set, a highly specialized background, or an unconventional career trajectory the search can take longer than you want it to take. An executive search can take anywhere from four to six months, which can seem like an eternity when critical needs aren’t being met.
Buy yourself the time you need and take some of the pressure off your high profile executive search with an interim executive. Once you have an interim executive in place, your search team can be highly strategic about filling the placement for the long term.
Mentorship: guidance for tomorrow’s leaders
According to the Association of Executive Search Consultants’ (AESC) The State of Executive Talent in 2025, “Organizations are looking to the next generation of leaders to find the talent they need. ‘Developing next-gen leaders’ was chosen by business leaders as the number one business issue in the next five years, along with creating/maintaining a culture of innovation.”
With interim placement, you free yourself to take the time you need to hire that precious gem who can lead your business for the foreseeable future. However, if like many companies you’re developing next-gen leaders, what better gift can you give your company and your fledgling executive than the mentorship of an interim leader with, for example, 35+ years of experience and three tours as a CFO?
This kind of talent and wealth of industry knowledge can be an invaluable transitional resource for a first-time C-suite leader.
Speed: changing times call for quick responses
We’re throwing a curveball into the list for our final entry, but we think it’s important to talk about the pace and intensity of the interim executive search process for a moment — especially during these changing times when “pivoting” is the norm.
“Speed” may not be a benefit of an interim executive, but it’s definitely a benefit of the interim executive search process.
We understand that if you’re looking for an interim executive, you may hit your frustration point and you may need to find someone right now. As executive search specialists, our interim services practice is agile, dedicated, and committed to ensuring we identify the right interim leader for your business needs. Within days, we’ll identify vetted candidates from our deep bench of talent who align with the custom critical interim executive needs you’re facing.
We’re here when you need us.
To learn more about Focus Search Partners’ interim executive services, connect with Monica Foster.