Interim Candidate Q & A: Michael Gagnier
Michael is a senior IT strategy and innovation executive with a successful 20-year track record. He has guided many well-known enterprises including Indigo, Citi Group, MD Financial Management and Economical Insurance through large-scale digital transformations. A seasoned leader, Michael brings a unique combination of expertise in business operations, process depth, and IT platforms.
We placed Michael at Yamaha Motors as an IT executive, to help transition the IT organization from an in-house mainframe to outsourced services. During this engagement, he also:
- Reorganized IT operations processes, including the addition of a help desk function and the implementation of help desk technology.
- Managed completed infrastructure refresh from laptops to network and servers.
- Managed a Cyber Security Assessment and development of a Cyber Security roadmap.
- Worked with management to improve overall IT Governance including adding PMO capabilities and program management processes.
“Having a range of senior leadership experience in various industries has helped me succeed as an interim executive. Interim executives need to quickly gain the trust of those in their organizations and rapidly assess the current situation in order to start making decisions for success.”
What triggered/initially attracted you to start working as an interim executive?
I wanted to move into consulting versus taking on a permanent role, and was also looking for the flexibility to take more extended time off.
What background experience has helped you succeed as an interim executive?
There are a number of capabilities that have resulted from having spent many years in executive IT leadership roles across different industries. In particular, I’ve participated in business strategy and IT strategy development and have managed many large-scale business, technology and IT transformation projects. I also have significant experience in digital strategy and digital startup. All these experiences have helped me be more effective as an interim executive.
Can you share what makes it worth it to you?
I find it very rewarding to be available to help many organizations of different sizes achieve their goals, versus being committed to one organization for many years.
Not everyone has what it takes to be successful as an interim executive. What do you feel is key to success?
There are a few keys to success as an interim executive. It’s critical to:
- Be a great listener
- Be able to assess situations quickly and provide appropriate alternatives
- Possess strong project management capabilities
- Have the ability to manage with little or no support resources
- Have the ability to quickly gain trust as an advisor
- Possess little ego and realize you won’t always be making the decisions
Who in your life and career – business and personal – has shaped your leadership style?
Having worked during the startup of Indigo Books, the founder and CEO Heather Reisman had a great influence on the leader I have become. She showed me how to develop a bold and innovative vision, build a high-performance team and lead with passion to realize that vision.
What do you think are the biggest organizational advantages/benefits that result from working with an interim executive?
Organizations can benefit by accessing the pinpoint expert skills of a highly experienced executive that they could not afford permanently. Interim executives also enable a knowledge transfer of advanced techniques and approaches to internal team, which tends to catalyze faster results for the organization.
Why do you continue to work with Odgers Interim?
Odgers Interim has a broad client base of top organizations, which means that they can offer a range of great interim opportunities. Their team handles business development and marketing, which allows their interim executives to focus on the engagement and maximizing billable hours.
Also, Odgers Interim’s knowledge of their clients and their ability to accurately assess interim candidates’ capabilities ensure an excellent match and highest probability of success for the engagement.
What is the one thing that most people get wrong about you?
Because I’ve done many large transformations, people believe I am only willing to work on those types of engagements. Contrary to that, I am very satisfied working on projects of all sizes and with companies of all sizes. I’m driven by achieving success for the organization and not by the size of the project.