The Great Thing About Gig Executives! - CLA Solutions

The Great Thing About Gig Executives!

The great thing about Gig Executives…by Adam Kyriacou


Earlier this year the Harvard Business Review explored ‘How Workers with a “Gig Mindset” Can Help Your Company Thrive’. It seems the secret is now well and truly out of the bag! The Gig Executive practice I lead as part of Fisher Leadership has received such growth in demand in recent times that I’ve barely had a moment to put my thoughts down in support of Jane McConnell’s article.

Firstly, the opportunity for Australia to harness the Gig Executive talent pool is significant. Companies around the world are embracing interim executives to tap into highly qualified professionals on an ‘as needs’ basis. According to Workforce 2020, a study conducted by Oxford Economics, 83% of executives indicate they’re increasingly using contingent workers at any time, on an ongoing basis. A lean corporate structure means many businesses do not have spare capacity or capability within their teams. A constantly shifting environment means we may not know what skills and capabilities we need until the demand is upon us.

The interim workforce has evolved not just in demand or numbers of professionals choosing to work this way post-COVID. The inherent role of the Gig Executive has also changed. Tom Forrest, Managing Director, of SH Consulting in the UK told AESC recently, “The view of the interim role was once just about filling in a line role until the permanent person was hired, or helping clients cover a business-critical gap in their infrastructure. Now, it is very much about enabling transformation.”

What was traditionally called ‘interim’ and understood as ‘gap-filling’ is now a competitive solution bringing critical skills to the table at pace.

Organisations want to be able to bring in people who have proven experience of a business challenge they are addressing. For example, an organisation might want to expand into a different market and bringing in someone who has done this before, maybe several times for other organisations, allows them to buy in the experience. The pace of business is ever increasing, and new ideas and innovation need to be bought to market with speed and precision.

As my colleague and Managing Director of Fisher Leadership, Michelle Loader, says “Imagine bringing in an experienced CEO who has run 5, 6, 7 companies and you’re bringing them in as a strategist. Their ability to communicate, to cut through, to understand systems and integration, and remove the noise, making their ability and speed to impact much greater. In the ideal interim, you get someone one skill set above what you would likely attract in a permanent role.”

As coronavirus swept the world, it took with it a workforce design stuck in the rigidity of the industrial age. Outcomes over hours, cognitive diversity over culture fit and adaptability over knowledge-ability are some of the hallmarks of today’s new operating environment.

Renewed pressure to innovate leaves organisations finding it near impossible to maintain the breadth of talent needed on a permanent basis. The open talent economy benefits all business by cross-pollinating industry best-practice, and facilitates a culture of constant learning.

So what is the typical Gig Executive profile?

Senior Management Worldwide (SMW) was seeing a growing demand for interims at the CEO and senior executive level. Yet very little was documented about this unique breed! Sometimes referred to as Corporate Nomads, the SMW team asked 13,000 interim managers in 27 countries to participate in a survey to reveal the profile of the interim executive.

  • The average age is 53 years old
  • They work 200 days or less per year
  • 66 percent were currently on assignment
  • 55 percent who responded were in C-level assignments
  • There is a growing trend for interim executive females


In her HBR article, Jane McConnell adds, “gig mindsetters” are a ’bold new breed of full-time, salaried employees who think and act like freelancers. Gig mindsetters are constant learners — they self-manage, take spontaneous initiative, focus on skills more than roles, feel free to shortcut processes, and don’t hesitate to question the status quo.’

In my decades of experience working with executives to explore new workforce models, I have noted some consistent traits regarding the ideal profile for an executive ‘gigger’:

  • Have EQ super powers facilitate easy relationships with stakeholders
  • Understand their strengths, with a quiet, patience confidence
  • Retain a more objective viewpoint
  • Are innately flexible and enjoy walking into different situations
  • Size the situation up quickly
  • Have strong management experience
  • Operate with complete transparency
  • Are often early adopters, facilitating digital skills and productivity best practice

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2024 alone, 75 million jobs will be displaced across 20 major economies, while 133 million new ones will spring up in industries that are only just gaining traction.

The Gig Executive may come and go from an organisation, but this trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Michelle Loader asks, “If you can bring heavy-hitting, best-of-breed people to the table for a short period of time, that you could never otherwise afford, why wouldn’t you?”


Call Gig Executive on: 1300 347 437 for a conversation about Gig Executive talent or email