Interim COO – Chief Operating Officer | Association of Interim Executives


Interim COO Spotlight: Winning in the First Days Interim executives are all about hitting the ground running. Day one isn’t about getting training or organizing a comfy corporate office, it’s about using every minute of a limited time frame to dig in to existing corporate issues and propel the company forward. While the line between being an interim COO and CEO can blur, the former requires more micro management, and the latter more macro. While CEOs tend to mention communication of a clear mission as a first objective, the interim COO tends to focus straightaway on aligning assets to get that mission accomplished. The priority list of an interim chief operating officer of course depends upon company stage and circumstances. And no matter the stage, an asset that demands priority is the workforce, particularly in a turnaround situation. LEVERAGING TALENT IN A TURNAROUND In the end, it’s always about the talent you either have in place or don’t have in place, according to Frances Scovil, an interim COO with extensive interim history, particularly with technology manufacturing companies. “It’s often about the previous mismanagement of that talent,” Scovil said. She prioritizes identifying the strengths within the talent base and leveraging that talent in view of specific operational demands. Sometimes, that ultimately involves process redesign, and the employee base is the best source of that information, Scovil said. She sets a culture to let that information float to the top. “If I come in, I’m never going to even begin to know the job and industry as well as the folks that have been living and breathing it for 10 to 15 years,” she said. “You’ve got to set a participatory culture.” STARTING WITH A BLANK SLATE Erik Van Rompay, based in France, has taken on various executive roles, including several as an interim COO. One of his engagements was particularly conflict-prone from the start. His priority was to find out from employees what wasn’t working properly, and learning what each department thought other departments should be doing. Absent any need for kissing-up to company executives, it was easier for Van Rompay to identify the truths of the situation and create an action plan during his early days on the assignment. “What made it work was being external and having a clean sheet,” Van Rompay said. Putting some sweat into an engagement is not just figurative speech for Van Rompay. Once he found himself unloading product at the end of the day in a t-shirt. He wanted employees to think, “He’s there to help us, not just in his office,” Van Rompay said. “The first thing for an interim COO is high engagement.”

Source: Interim COO – Chief Operating Officer | Association of Interim Executives


About Stephen G. Barr, Group Publisher

Author, Syndicated Columnist, Editor In-Chief and Group Publisher at SGB Media Group, a social media marketing firm specializing in digital media content production, publishing, affiliate marketing, public relations and advertising. Over 25 years experience in retailing, advertising, website & online forum development, niche social networking, affiliate marketing, search optimization, branding and identity, site location, non-profit fund raising. Event planning, promotion, production and MC/Host at public events. Author, Editor & Publisher of 35 syndicated, digital publications utilizing multiple digital distribution channels in conjunction with launching and administrating national advertising campaigns for major Fortune 500 advertisers in partnership with Google, Ning, Facebook, Myspace, Yahoo, DoubleClick, LinkShare, PepperJam and other industry leading third party affiliate networks. Product development team member from conception to launch on many websites, tangible goods and organizational structure for start ups. Specialties: Public relations, retailing, advertising, website & online forum development, niche social networking, blogging, email campaigns, affiliate/performance marketing, search optimization, branding and identity, site location, event production & promotion, non-profit fund raising and tasteful, responsible adult content publishing. An internationally recognized and read social media columnist & pundit on The Examiner, Associate Content,, and Technorati and his own affiliated sites.
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