Case Study: Dawson Holdings PLC

Interim Programme Structuring Support

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THE CLIENT: HUGH CAWLEY – Group Finance Director, Dawson Holdings PLC

I’ve worked with Gavan before – originally as a client some ten years ago, and then as an interim manager placed by him. In the past five years I’ve worked with him as a client again and I’ve used him to supply interim resources on a number of occasions, for both long and short-term assignments.

I continue to use Gavan because, first, he tells me straight away if he can or cannot supply me with what I need and, secondly, I always know I shall be able to rely on the appointee to do precisely what I want in a way which complements the company’s organisational culture. The appointment of Heather Northey is the most recent case in point. I needed an emergency guide for one of our promising new project managers; someone who could help her escape from the political mire into which she had become embroiled and help her construct a credible and saleable project plan which would set her on the path to deliver, preferably with a crash course in IT! And all that had to be packed into five days.

Within a couple of days of receiving the brief, Gavan came up with Heather who then proceeded to deliver on all fronts – and did not seek to extend her tenure, despite there being an obvious need for her particular skill set for the longer term. I couldn’t ask for a better service from Heather and Gavan than that.

THE CANDIDATE: HEATHER NORTHEY – Interim Programme Manager

I have been placed by Gavan on a number of assignments, from Senior Management positions where I needed to make a seamless transition to an organisation whilst managing change, rationalising the business processes or personnel, to short term roles where immediate and lasting impact is needed.
Gavan uses his experience to not only find good matches to my proven skill set, but he is also able to see the bigger picture and opportunities for crossover into new industries or areas of work for me. I value this because it provides me with a diversity of work experience. He always gives me an excellent brief not only of the role but of the people I am likely to encounter, the political background of the organisation/people I am likely to work with and the goals set for the assignment, all of which allows me to prepare myself thoroughly. An example of this is with Dawson Holdings, a large news distribution company. They were
looking to extract maximum Project Management learning from a short term appointment which would allow them to help their relatively inexperienced in house staff to deliver their financial systems project.

I had just left Gavan’s office following a debrief regarding an interview for a different opportunity, when he received a call asking for someone to help at Dawson’s. I met the client the following day and was able to start the assignment the working day after that. With only 5 days to make an impact I focused on making sure a detailed short term project plan was in place and that a longer term outline plan was in development. I also provided coaching to the project manager to bolster their confidence when dealing with new areas of work or areas of conflict and I have since acted as a sounding board for the manager in question; she seems happy now and has had good feedback that she is managing the project well, which was the goal.

THE CONSULTANT: GAVAN BURDEN, Founder and Managing Director – Burden Dare Ltd

Hugh is a long standing and valued client of mine whom I first worked with in 1998; he has also been an equally valued candidate whom I have been delighted to place as an interim manager and we have grown to know each other well over these 10 years. I know the sorts of people Hugh will work well with, and vice versa, and this understanding enables me to act fast when needed and pinpoint single candidates for specific roles; it’s the “trusted advisor” role I aspire to
with my clients and it saves him time too.

When Hugh called saying that he needed a strong but politically astute programme manager to help support one of his capable young team I knew the perfect candidate; I also knew she was available as I had seen her not half an hour before! I have placed Heather several times before and I know she is very capable from the feedback I receive.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a one year or one month assignment, each one is critical for my client and deserves the same care, attention and, importantly, quality of candidate. Interim managers normally like to take the longest assignment possible for security of income, but Heather was happy to consider this short assignment to help me, as well as Hugh. That’s why we’re here, to help.

The following day Hugh and the project manager met Heather and she started work the day after. The assignment was another great success for Heather, Dawson have a newly confident project manager and I have a happy client and a happy interim manager. And that’s what I like best about this job.

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