Watermark Search Release Interim Executive Annual Survey

Watermark is proud to produce Australia’s pre-eminent data on the interim executive marketplace for the ninth consecutive year. Our clients state this information is a key tool to help inform decisions about executive talent requirements.

The trend continues where organisations are accessing talent in a more fluid and agile manner. They are seeing value in ‘borrowing’ talent rather than always ‘buying’ talent. They are accessing, or ‘borrowing’, this talent for two key reasons: 1) to deliver on projects and 2) when there is a gap in a business-critical role.

Five emerging disruptors driving demand functions:
This year the survey provided evidence that while change and transformation were the key imperatives for engaging an interim, the cause of the disruption has shifted:

  1. Enhanced competition/new entrants driving business turnaround and restructuring with Chief Financial Officers, Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operating Officers being highly sought after to parachute in and fix this.
  2. Digital disruption causing a knock-on in the rise of Chief Technology and Information specialists and digital transformation experience.
  3. The power of social conscience disrupting business has seen a calling for Chief Customer/Experience Officers and Marketing and Crisis Communication specialists.
  4. Emergence of Data and Analytics to obtain a competitive advantage correlating in the advent of the Chief Data Officer.
  5. Enhanced regulatory scrutiny in key markets, i.e. Financial Services, Aged Care, Energy Sector heightening the need for Risk, Legal & Governance Executives.

Key findings of 2019 (for more detailed information review pg 3 of report).
– Portfolio professionals; their time is now
– Competition heightened in the Executive Gig Market
– Macro forces influencing shift to Interim Executives
– Augmenting Internal Succession Planning

Key survey statistics
– More women are engaging in a portfolio career (increase of 5% to 30% of respondents being female).
– The 50-59 age group continues to be the largest cohort at 56%.
– 72% of respondents prefer interim work to a permanent role.
– Busiest sectors for interim executives are non-for-profit, government and Financial services.
– While people choose interim as they value the variety and flexibility (55% each respectively), we have seen a 16% growth in respondents confirming that they intentionally select a ‘portfolio career’, over 50% of people we engage with, choose interim as their ‘plan A’.
– The largest functional demand area for interims is Chief Transformation/Change Director (55%) followed by COO (40%) and CEO & CFO (both 31%).

If you would like further information or to arrange further commentary, please contact Corinne Hutchins on 02 8296 5303
or email

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