Disruption and Demand for Growth Leads to the Rise of the Gig Executive

by | Apr 20, 2017 | Business Feature

Today’s highly-competitive, global environment is changing the way companies hire and the way people work. With many jobs being reorganized into a variety of non-traditional arrangements such as freelance and consulting contracts, it is estimated that more than 50% of the U.S. workforce will soon be part of the gig economy (it’s currently about one third).

Faith Popcorn, a futurist and the CEO of BrainReserve, notes that the shift away from traditional employment trends is being driven in part by an influx of millennials entering the workforce. This demographic, coupled with technological advancements, is inspiring a change in the mindset of workers at all levels. Working in the new gig economy can mean anything from more casual engagements like driving for Uber or performing freelance services on on-demand platforms like Fiverr, to being the Interim CEO at Yahoo.

According to Jason Peetsma, Managing Director with Odgers Interim, the demand for gig executives (experienced C-level executives who are willing to take on a short-term role with an organization) is being fueled by the need for instant results. Companies want seasoned executives with a proven track record who can step into a role and make an immediate impact. It’s one of the reasons that leading, global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson formed Odgers Interim in 1999, a division of the firm dedicated to interim executive placements.

“This is not a fad,” added Mr. Peetsma. “On one hand, it’s being driven by shareholder pressure for immediate and ongoing results. On the other hand, growing numbers of Gen X and Gen Y professionals are looking to get more from their work — whether that’s more flexibility, more challenging projects to tackle or, in some cases, better financial rewards. More and more executives are figuring out that there’s a market for the kinds of specialized skills, expertise and practical insights that they can bring to a wider portfolio of organizations.”

The number of senior-level independent consultants will continue to grow, adds Gregg Fisher, Managing Partner at consulting firm The Stem, which specializes in customer engagement and digital transformation. Fisher notes that technological change has resulted in an increasing number of enterprises finding themselves with an in-house pool of employees with fragmented skillsets. “Technological change will increase pressure on companies to tap into highly specialized talent who have chosen to operate in the independent consulting marketplace,” Mr. Fisher adds.

Top talent providers like Odgers Interim will be there to provide that on-demand, specialized executive talent. Offering a comprehensive, national talent base of more than 6,000 pre-screened interim executives with extensive experience in a variety of functions and industries, the firm has doubled in size in the last two years, with revenues up more than 80%. “These people are wired a bit differently than your typical executive,” says Mr. Peetsma. “They’re at the top of the functional heap, and they love to grow things, build things and fix things. They’re looking for flexibility, and they want to feel like they’re contributing to growing and changing an organization for the better. We’re finding that if they’re really good at what they do — and the best interim talent that we work with are — they can command a very good fee for it.”

Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life you Want, says more than 70% of workers aren’t engaged in their jobs. “The gig economy offers a much-needed alternative model of work that can supplement or substitute for being a full-time employee in a full-time job.” And though it requires a certain degree of hustle, as well as adaptability and results-orientation that not all executives are necessarily cut out for, the benefits — including greater flexibility, more interesting, and often, more financially lucrative work — are there for the taking.


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