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					Dear                                                           February 2008

We have had two very busy client months already in 2008 with a successful
project start last week for a winning member of topinterim as a production
leader with the country‟s leading organic dairy brand. We also enclose the
latest project report from Dr Paul Sheppard who has just finished a year‟s
project with Pets Choice up in Blackburn. Remember to always write project
reports of your own best projects using the topinterim project report headings,
clear it with your client, and we will publish. And another successful ti member
starts next week on a FD project through us with a £10 million company that
only came in a week ago via the internet. Briefing on a Tuesday and shortlist
interviews on a Friday. A choice made and a hiring agreement that day a
record for us. We have raised our success fee a tad for 2008 but we are still
less than half the cost of an interim agent on a successful hiring.

The latest edition of The Executive Grapevine Directory of Talent
Management for 2007/08 is now out. A huge edition costing just under £300.
Intriguingly there are only about 50 interim companies listed this year. They
seem to have done some serious weeding since the 2006/07 edition.
topinterim‟s entry is on page 479. We are the only non-agent in the directory.
There are in fact about 270 interim agents out there. Though it‟s expensive,
this directory is a „must‟ for a proper campaign against agents by any senior
interim candidate. You need the names of the individuals to contact, NOT just
the companies.

Our plans for a summer social event for London members and partners
progress well with a supper at The House of Commons hosted by Shailesh
Vara MP, the deputy opposition leader of the House. The date is Wednesday
evening the 16th of July. The House will almost certainly be in session that
evening. Please could members who are interested in this event register now
by an e mail to . Places are limited and we need to know
soonest whether we will hit our 20 member, 20 guest target. Cost will be
about £45 a head, Many members will have visited the House in the past but
probably not our partners. So a special opportunity for us all.

Remember too to have Friday November 28th 2008 in your diaries for the
annual afternoon and early evening annual symposium at 10 St James
Square. We will try and have in each newsletter this year something about
energy and climate change initiatives following our 2007 Symposium on
„changing climates‟. This time a piece on The Duchy Of Cornwall‟s Eco
initiatives and news of a new startup by Neil Kerr, one of topinterim‟s original
shareholders in 2000 who has an exciting
developing agency relationship with one the leading US small scale wind
generator companies. This site website explores the practical economics of
having a generator of your own. Space, no neighbours, and a hilly site are
useful elements if you have them!
As usual you can pick the topics of interest or download the entire 12 page
newsletter and read it at your convenience.
Happy hunting

1. 1. London member’s Development Meeting March 3rd

We will report on this presentation by Leon Benjamin in next month‟s

1.2. Bristol member’s Development meeting March/April

We are close to fixing venue and speaker for late March early April and will be
announcing this very soon.

2. So what are interim agents charging nowadays?

Can you help with inputs of your own here please? We see plenty of evidence
that top agents still manage to achieve a 50% mark up on your daily rate (or
33% on the total cost of the assignment), i.e. £600 becomes £900 to the
client. £500 becomes £750 and so on.

We try and establish that any client of ours does not think they can start at
less than about £600 a day with topinterim members. Our highest fee secured
last year was £1,200 a day by one of our very established top turn round
people suggesting than he would be able to deliver what was needed in two
days a week rather than 5, and thus £1,200 a day would be saving money!
The fact that topinterim does NOT do percentage add ons is of course a huge
advantage when negotiating direct with a client, as our members are able to
do through our process. There is plenty of evidence that this means you are
able to negotiate a larger share of the project fee for yourself.

But in your recent contracts through an agent, what percentage was the agent
in this case earning? Examples please to No need to
mention the agent to ensure total confidentiality.

3. Dr Paul Sheppard’s project report

This was one of those dream projects for a ti member which just kept on
extending. From six months to a year and six months. Blackburn is Paul‟s
home town, though he now lives in Leighton Buzzard. He formed a great
rapport with the management team there and managed the complex and high
risk instalment of a huge processing machine and packing facility which now
allows Pets Choice to challenge Winalot when heretofore Pets Choice have
already established an excellent supermarket niche underneath the
magnificent Pedigree Petfoods. We‟re sure Paul will be called forward again
with this fast expanding client. The best clients are the ones who come back.

Programme Director

topinterim member 709

Client situation and objectives

Pets Choice Ltd. is a leading pet food production company with its own brand
name of products supplied to major retail stores. Over recent years the CEO
has increased sales and profitability to the point where they needed another
facility to increase production and meet the growing demand for their product
range. They acquired an old animal feed mill approximately one mile from
their head quarters and main production facility in Blackburn. The objective
was to refurbish the old mill into a new production and packaging facility,
utilising as much of the existing equipment as possible and the sale of any
redundant equipment. The management team of Pets Choice had identified
and purchased a new extruder and dryer for the production of dry dog, cat
and fish food. The project brief for the refurbishment and installation of new
equipment had been given to various external contractors for quotation. The
company needed an interim programme director to project manage the
refurbishment of the mill and supervise the external contractors.

Sourcing the solution

The new chairman of Pets Choice, Anthony Nissen is also the MD of the
„Virtual Office Group‟ in London where topinterim has a virtual office and
consequently asked David Pinchard if he had any interim managers who
could take responsibility for the project. David gave Anthony a range of
production director „short CVs‟ and suggested that he read them and then pick
one for a preliminary interview to assess the calibre of candidates. I was
selected and interviewed by Anthony, who obviously thought I fitted the
requirements and arranged for me to visit Pets Choice and be interviewed by
the original owner (Ted Davies) and the CEO (Tony Raeburn). Following the
interview, there was a main board meeting at which they decided to go ahead
with an assignment.

Agreeing the brief and the price

The final stage of the selection process was to agree a brief, mode of
operation and payment terms. It was agreed that the position would not be full
time particularly in the initial stages when tenders for the contract were being
sought. The CEO wanted a fixed price contract of equal monthly payments
with a minimum and maximum number of days of work, leaving it up to the
interim as to when those days were worked. Having had the interview at Pets
Choice Ltd., I wrote up a contract of work, specifying the brief, objectives,
range of days to be worked, terms and conditions and monthly payment
terms, to cover the initial stage of the project. The contract also stated that it
would be reviewed after four months and revised to a daily rate when the full
scope of work and time scales were more clearly defined. The contract was
accepted by both parties and commenced at the beginning of November

First steps

The first stage of the project was to review the tenders from the selected
contractors. It was immediately clear that more time was needed with the
electrical contractors in order to define the process control requirements and
instrumentation as one of Pets Choice‟s objectives was to automate the
process as much as possible. The tenders were reviewed and a choice was
made, but there was a need for some alterations and a revised bid, which was
received and accepted in January 2007. Having selected a main contractor,
who would take overall responsibility for the mechanical, civil and electrical
contracts, the first thing to get them to do was, disconnect and strip out all the
redundant equipment and get it ready for sale.
Project Strategy and implementation

The project was obviously larger than originally estimated and would fall
under the Health and Safety CDM regulations. To get the ball rolling we
employed the main contractor under a small engineering contract to remove
the redundant equipment, which has subsequently been sold. I then took on
the responsibility of being the CDM principal engineer and site coordinator. I
filled in the appropriate CDM forms and informed HSE of the total project and
wrote up the „Pets Choice Contractor Rules‟ document and issued it to the
contractors and generated the CDM file, containing all the forms, rules, time
sheets etc. to comply with CDM regulations.

By this time it became clear that my involvement in the project was going to
be more than originally anticipated and we renegotiated my contract to an
agreed daily rate. My responsibilities were also increased to include the
identification and purchase of packaging equipment for the following phase of
the project. The objective here was to fully automate the proposed packaging
line, which would consist of a „Vertical Form Fill and Seal‟ system, a collation
and shrink wrapper for 2.5 kg bags and a preformed bag packaging system
for the large 5-15 kg bags. This would then be followed by a fully automated
palletising line with robotic pallet stacker and finally a stretch wrapper. This
was no easy task as we struggled to design a line that would fit into the
available space. However, after initial identification of possible equipment it
became apparent that the original area proposed for the packaging line in the
mill, was inadequate and we focused our attention to using the existing
warehouse, which was a totally different building, but provided more room and
opportunities for the design of the lines.

The new process equipment (extruder and dryer), from Wenger duly arrived
17th April. It was an extremely tight fit, getting the new equipment in,
particularly the dryer, which only had an inch clearance either side of the
doorway. The dryer also posed an unforeseen bigger problem as it was the
latest design of dryer from Wenger, which was larger and more efficient but
not the same as the drawings originally sent to the contractors for the
quotation. The new dryer had two exhaust ducts as opposed to the original
drawing that only had one. This resulted in additional work, two new cyclones,
structural work and considerably more ducting than originally quoted for. The
dryer also required twice as much gas than the current mains supply and a
new gas main had to be installed, a long with a new gas meter and housing
and a change of gas supplier, which caused a significant delay to the project.


Approximately one year on from the start of getting in the tenders for the main
contractor, the project came to a successful conclusion, with first product trials
taking place in December 2007 and production runs in the New Year. The
products produced are currently filled into tote bags and transported down to
the Gladstone Street site for mixing/blending and packaging. The packaging
line at Lower Philips Road site was designed and the appropriate equipment
identified, purchased and delivered. The blending of product, transportation to
the packing hall and the integration of the packaging line are currently being
reviewed by Pets Choice and the management of this phase will be done
Pets Choice Ltd. got a really good deal on the purchase of the old mill, but this
in itself creates problems as it is significantly harder to design and squeeze in
new equipment into an existing building than it is to design a green field site.
There are also many unforeseen issues in refurbishing existing equipment,
which don‟t become apparent until start up. However, the final outcome was
the best solution for their requirement and budget, allowing them to expand
the business in to a new field.

Candidate Number: 709

Profile: A very experienced senior manager of very substantial and broad
experience. An operations director, a technical director, a director of software
systems development, a project manager, an international product
development director both in the UK and USA, a award winning director of
research and development. Experienced in the acquisition of companies and
assessing due diligence and defining product/market strategy. Experienced in
change management, quality systems and benchmarking. Happy in B2B sales
and finance as well as operational and production areas. Ph.D. (Chemical
Engineering process Control) B.Sc. DIS, M.Sc. (Chemical Engineering)
Chartered Engineer, M.I.Chem.E, IoD

Ask me to: I love building and working with teams, and am comfortable both
at the coal face and in the boardroom. I enjoy the sales process and
negotiation of contracts. I revel in strategy setting especially in new market
areas and product development. I adore innovation. I analyse fast

[S] Expertise/Disciplines: B-ISO 9001, B-Project Management,
B-Manufacturing, B-NPD, B-Process Control, B-Software Development,
B-Quality Systems, O-Change Management, O-Re-Location, O-Processes,
Y-Acquisition, Y-Strategy, Y-Business Development, X-Research

[S] Industries: Petfoods, Beer, Soft Drinks, Virtual Reality Systems,
Simulators, Electronic Imaging, Software Development, Medical Systems,
Batch Process Control, Pulp and Energy Systems, Photographic Film, Office
Machinery, Pharma Machinery, Packaging Machinery

[S] Clients/Companies: Pets Choice, GEI Group, Heineken, Virtuality,
Kawasaki, Pitney Bowes, Crosfield Electronics, IGE Medical Systems, Kent
Process Control, Measurex International Systems, Kodak

Time as an independent: Since 2003

4. Internet aggregators. Another new frontier

David Parsley reports on the new breed of 'aggregators' that sift online
financial information to bring you the needle but not the haystack
The Independent on Sunday, 13 January 2008
“Try to find a specific piece of data on the web and the chances are that you'll
get a lot more information than you need and end up not enlightened but
completely in the dark.

     You may even enter an incredibly precise term but you'll still get millions
of results with no clue as to which ones are actually relevant to you. No one in
a City job has the time or inclination to sift through that amount of research, so
corporate executives, analysts and bankers are now flocking to the crop of
web-information aggregators that have sprung up over the past few years.

    These websites employ sophisticated software to find exactly what you
need – whether it's the latest rumour on a predicted merger or an investment
by a private equity house. In a matter of seconds, these sites will produce the
information the workers in the financial community require.

     One such site is StrategyEye. Nick Gregg launched the business in 2004
after a successful banking career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Also the
founder of recruitment group Milkround, which was sold to News International
last year for £40m, he had been developing his web-aggregator software
during his time in banking.

    StrategyEye offers subscribers a battlefield view of telecom, media and
technology (TMT) businesses by gathering rumours, announcements,
partnerships and blogs on the topic from tens of thousands of web sources
round the globe. Gregg's team of analysts will then check the stories out and
write their own views on them, providing subscribers with a snapshot of the
information and how reliable it seems to be.

     "We are a combination of human intellectual property and technology,"
says Gregg. “Essentially, we provide subscribers with two things. First, we
track 4,000 expert bloggers around the world and assess what they're saying.
These guys are often some of the most experienced people in their sectors,
letting the world know the latest news before it hits the City pages in

    "We gather this information from all these sources all day every day and
then have our analysts check the rumours out. We rank the bloggers in many
ways, including how reliable they are, and our software never misses anything
anyone writes.

    "Second, and unlike some of our competitors, we track mergers and
acquisitions, venture capital deals and any announcements in the TMT
    In the next month, StrategyEye will begin to cover the energy industry and
Gregg is also looking to expand into other sectors, including healthcare and
clean technologies, in the next year. Backed by 20 "angel" investors, he has
raised £2m for the expansion programme.

   "The business is very scalable," adds Gregg. "We currently cover 10,000
companies across 3,000 sub-sectors. Our software allows us to do much
more than that when we're ready to. There's no reason we can't cover 50,000
companies across many new sectors as we expand."
    StrategyEye is set to reach profitability next year as some of Gregg's
biggest clients – which include Microsoft, Yahoo!, BSkyB, Fidelity and UBS –
pay up to £40,000 for their annual subscription.

    Like many others in the sector, Gregg believes that these information-
gathering techniques are poised to revolutionise how business people gather
their intelligence.

    Another "believer" is Devin Wenig, chief operating officer and proposed
chief executive of news information group Reuters following the completion of
the merger with Thomson. Last month he told the Future of Business Media
conference in New York that bloggers and web chat were becoming critical in
news generation.

   Wenig talked up what he called "data concordance" and revealed that
Reuters is set to overhaul its financial data terminals, which he described as
"somewhat archaic compared to what's happening on the web".

    His "next-generation" terminals will be a multimedia experience, fully
social network-enabled and collaborative with the internet.

    "Part of that is also about aggregating content that we don't have. The
terminal of the future is not only going to have Reuters content, it's going to
bring in a bunch of information from the web and do it contextually.

     "I want to see what the blogo-sphere is saying about it. I want to see not
just what Reuters says about it but what the world is saying. That's a huge

    It is understood that Wenig is already some way along to launching the
financial terminal of the future and has held initial talks with potential software

     Clearly Gregg is hoping to catch the eye of Reuters, but he will be
competing with the likes of Mergermarket, which claims to produce "pre-news"
in the mergers and acquisitions market via its 200 journalists worldwide.
Founded by former Scots Guards officer Casper Hobbs and journalist Charlie
Welsh at the end of 1999, Mergermarket provides information on M&A activity
above €£3.7m in Europe or £2.5m around the globe, and in any sector
anywhere, to investment bankers and others in the M&A community.

     The two men pocketed £10m each in August 2006 when Pearson, owner
of the Financial Times, bought the business for £101m.

     Where StrategyEye looks at every aspect of the companies that it covers,
Mergermarket has spread its net far wider but only focuses on M&A rumours
– in the same way that another product, VentureSource, a web information
group owned by Dow Jones, focuses on investment from venture capital
sources around the world.

    These three groups are sure to be only the beginning of the revolution in
information gathering. When news organisation leaders such as Wenig at
Reuters recognise it's the future, you can be sure more bright sparks will jump
on the bandwagon.”
5. Slowly setting Sun on hard copy newspapers

Another sign of the times is the steady and relentless decline of hard copy
newspapers. This is alongside the decline of conventional TV audiences. The
old stranglehold of big advertising cost media, and huge infrastructure of
investment needed by major power brokers like Murdoch is weakening by the

The Guardian has 350,000 or so circulation a day in hard copy , but in
January along Guardian online had over 19 million visitors that month, a
rise of over 20% over December 2007 visitors! This makes the Guardian
the largest of all UK newspaper websites.

Tim Luckhurst Independent on Sunday, 13 January 2008

                    December        November      Month-on-      December
                        2007            2007       month             2006
                                                 change (%)
Independent           228,400         233,423          2.15      238,756
Times                 615,313         636,946          3.40      635,777
Telegraph             873,523         882,783          1.06      899,493
Guardian              353,436         356,789          0.94      365,635
Daily Mail          2,310,806       2,327,507          0.72    2,311,057
Daily Express         744,539         766,874          2.91      773,768
Sun                 2,985,672       3,078,388          3.01    3,028,732
Daily Mirror        1,494,114       1,518,881          1.63    1,540,917
Daily Star            726,465         753,476          3.58      750,374

                     December         November      Month-on-   Decemb      Year-on-
                         2007             2007       month      er 2006       year
                                                   change (%)                change
IoS                  198,222           203,369           2.53 198,871       0.33
Sunday Times        1,148,329        1,213,878           5.40 1,212,8       5.32
Sunday Telegraph     611,293           645,305           5.27 643,592         5.02
Observer             429,420           454,374           5.49 435,852         1.48
Mail on Sunday      2,209,642        2,324,581           4.94 2,241,7         1.43
Sunday Express       677,480           687,253           1.42 759,495       10.80
News of the World   3,167,435        3,280,972           3.46 3,380,7       6.31
Sunday Mirror       1,315,188        1,358,370           3.18 1,322,2         0.57
The People           674,781           683,802           1.32 766,842       12.01
Daily Star Sunday    360,416           421,841          14.56 354,809       1.58
Sunday Mail          488,362           487,276           0.22 499,392       2.21
                                           SOURCE: Audit Bureau of Circulation

It feels like the end of an era: 33 years and 11 months after the "Super
Soaraway Sun" burst through the three million mark, its December 2007 sales
figure fell below that for the first time, according to the latest figures from ABC.

   Will News International's market-leading red top ever again have the
confidence to assert "It's the Sun wot won it," as it did after John Major's
victory in April 1992? Probably: December circulation figures are notoriously
poor. With price-cutting and giveaways, 'The Sun' should soon creep back
above three million.
   Its rival, the Daily Mirror, may also recover from December's decline to just
under 1.5 million daily sales, but the popular tabloids are in trouble. Now it's
possible to imagine the Mail overtaking The Sun. With the Mail at 2,310,672
sales in December, their circulations are converging.

  Competition is ferocious but paid-for papers are experiencing their bleakest
years since broadcast news destroyed their monopoly in the 1960s. In the
year from December 2006, national dailies' circulation fell by 1.99 per cent to
11,287,246. Sunday titles suffered more, shedding 4.74 per cent.

   The Financial Times, though, continued its rise, increasing daily sales by
2.62 per cent on the year.

   New Times editor James Harding may have experienced a moment of
insecurity on glimpsing the latest figures. His title had a poor December,
shedding 3.4 per cent of sales on the month before, compared to falls of 0.94
per cent at The Guardian, 1.06 per cent at The Daily Telegraph and 2.15 per
cent at The Independent.

   The good news is the mounting proof that established brand names have
huge value in cyberspace. Online readers of The Independent and
Independent on Sunday rocketed in 2007. The Daily Mail boasted nearly 14.5
million unique users in November, putting it ahead of and
Times Online, but behind Guardian Unlimited.

   Digital publishing lets papers expand their readership, and last week the
World Association of Newspapers launched a website to promote the use of
cross-media audience measurement. There is the revenue out there to
support quality journalism, but until advertisers grasp the value of combined
print and digital papers, they will not pay top rates for online campaigns.

Tim Luckhurst is professor of journalism at the University of Kent

6. Energy news. The power of example – The Duchy of Cornwall

„The countryside and the challenges of climate change and the environment –
a case study of the Duchy of Cornwall Estates‟.

All ti members will have their various networks. Colin Butcher, our Bristol
members chairman introduced me to membership of one excellent network
which meets for a presentation and supper afterwards about 8 evenings every
year in a smart hotel Cheltenham.
The delegates are an interesting mix, some from neighbouring GCHQ, which
occupies a huge site on the outskirts of Cheltenham, full of impressive and
thoughtful engineers and intelligence gatherers (as one would expect). But
also bankers, university professors, manufacturers, senior public sector
specialists, and a sprinkling of locally based senior independents.

A recent presentation was made to this group by David Curtis, one of the key
land stewards of the Duchy of Cornwall Estate. It was kind of him to take time
out to give such an interesting talk to us.

The background to the Duchy goes back to 1337 (if you hold land in the family
long enough it can be a very good thing!) and fulfils an important role in
sustaining the heir to the throne, who receives little help from the public purse.

The estate is well spread throughout the West and South West, including the
Scillies, but also such unexpected sites as the Oval Cricket ground. The
Prince of Wales is also surprisingly landlord of Dartmoor Prison. The estate
was significantly expanded in 2000 with the purchase of the Prudential Estate
for £49 million with major landholdings in Herefordshire.

Revenue of the estate is £14 million p.a. and there are total of 79 employees.
A lot is clearly done by such a small team.

The Prince of Wales sounds a fine landlord to his agricultural tenants. Yields
are low at 2%. The game there is always a long one. The estate also has 570
residential properties with tenants.

The yields however from the estate‟s commercial ventures are driving
revenues up sharply. (20% over 2% from agricultural land) Poundbury, a 400
acre housing development site has produced a substantial amount of „column
inches‟ for its sensitive „traditional‟ village and housing development and the
way it has delivered house prices 30% above surrounding properties.

Some hate it. The residents, mostly well heeled and from the older age groups
like it very much.

Another Duchy venture is on the way on Duchy estate land in Newquay

The Prince believes in steering his team to mirror his strong environmental
views and the Duchy estate management has pioneered a number of key
initiatives. All new housing is naturally built to very high energy efficiency.

The Estate is not at all convinced about wind generators. They are expensive
to build and also expensive to link to the national grid. Currently wind
generators are dependent on subsidy. They have a long payback. Also they
can be very unsightly indeed in their view when you see the giant wind farm
clusters that are springing up around the country.

On bio fuels they were initially very much in favour in driving farm machinery
with bio fuels, but recently are having serious second thoughts. As the price of
wheat (a key constituent for bio energy distillation) has climbed from £62 per
tonne to over £200 a tonne. At over £100 a tonne and bio energy becomes
uneconomic. An acre will produce 5 tonnes of wheat in a good year.
On heating they report good success with large central biomass boilers using
woodchips. A biomass boiler produces not just heat but also electricity for a
group of houses with a low carbon footprint. Their own biomass boilers
produce 60% less cost than using conventional fuel oil. Biomass boilers may
be expensive to install but have a 30 years life. Currently the best biomass
boilers are manufactured in Europe and imported here. The woodchips
interestingly come from an Ironbridge based business, not from the estate.

They are also beginning to experiment with all-electric Smart cars with 100
miles range before a re-charge.

Their conclusion was that these estate initiatives are in their infancy and blind
alleys are to be found along the way. But at least they are experimenting and
communicating what they are learning. Agriculture may have been
somewhat in the doldrums for 20 years but the agricultural leaders are waking
up fast to the new challenges and opportunities of energy conservation and
renewables. Soon, as produce prices rise, we will see much less talk of „set
aside‟ land as we further experiment to harness the sun to at least go part of
the way to solve the real crisis coming up- the finite nature of our most used
cheap sources of energy, coal, natural gas and oil.

The rising cost of oil will inevitably cause increases in the cost of food, and will
encourage perhaps the greater consideration of „food miles‟ and the
desirability of buying locally produced food and in season.

One really does wonder at the greater than ever profusion of African grown
red roses- all arriving just in time for Valentine‟s Day this year. On the one
hand valuable revenue for hard pressed African farmers. On the other a hell
of a lot of cargo jumbos and road distribution from the new Covent Garden.