Michel Janssens began his career in the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) as interim manager assigned by Essensys. In the meantime, he is now the permanent Chief Operating Officer at AWDC and he is calling on Essensys’ interim management services. An ex-interim manager tells all.
How did you find out about Essensys?
Michel Janssens: I actually came to AWDC via Essensys. At the time, I had several meetings with them as a candidate interim manager, during which both my experience and my career objectives were assessed. Before they allow you to go for an interview with a customer, they require a clear idea of your capabilities and your aspirations, which seems only logical when you think that the candidates that they send out are also actually their calling card. In my case, the necessary time was also taken in order to map out my affinities and strengths. This enabled them to establish which position, sector and company culture would be a good fit between the customer and myself. Based on this information, I was invited for an interview at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).
What made it ‘click’ between you and AWDC?
Michel Janssens: When I started here at AWDC as interim manager, it was soon evident that there was a lot of work to be done, which I actually found to be a challenge. The situation gave me the chance to make many recommendations. These were recommendations that I would later be able to implement myself and follow up on, now that I have a permanent position as Chief Operating Officer at AWDC. My interim management assignment resulted in permanent recruitment, which obviously does not happen that often.
You have since been looking for an interim manager yourself?
Michel Janssens: At the beginning of January 2008, we urgently needed a new Human Resources manager. Because we did not want to loose any precious time and because I knew what the positive aspects of the interim manager formula were, the choice was made very quickly.
Which important capabilities were you looking for in this position?
Michel Janssens: We were looking for someone with both operational and strategic strengths. We also thought that it was important that this person had an ‘open door policy’ and was therefore very accessible for our employees. The person also had to be able to implement long term Human Resources processes and trajectories, such as Performance Management, for example.
Which Human Resources partner did you contact for this?
Michel Janssens: Due to my positive experience as a candidate with Essensys, I found it a logical choice to contact them about this position.
How quick was the process?
Michel Janssens: We specified the profile for this position during our briefing with Tony Geudens (Essensys consultant). We received two profiles within two weeks, both of which were right on the mark. We realised that we were in a position of luxury and from these two top-ranking candidates we chose Lidewij Devroe to become our new Human Resources manager. Her broad experience and vision were the decisive factors, and once our choice had been made, Lidewij Devroe started pretty much straight away.
What was the contact like with your consultant once you had made your choice?
Michel Janssens: Several telephone calls were received in the first two months in order to ascertain progress. A formal evaluation was then carried out in the third month. In my experience, it is not only the customers, but also the candidates who are consistently followed up.
What do you think the most important benefits are of interim management?
Michel Janssens: It enables you to maintain continuity within your organisation, preventing situations arising where you have to make compromises in crucial recruitment decisions because of the pressures of time.
How would you describe the ideal interim management solution?
Michel Janssens: As a qualitative and fast solution. If you need an interim manager, then you obviously want the position filled quickly. Reacting quickly is an absolute must and the quality of the candidates also remains a priority. These positions are so crucial that there is no room for ‘trial and error’. It all comes down to quality and speed of service being fundamental for a good interim management solution.
What do you expect from your consultant?
Michel Janssens: I place much importance on professionalism. A consultant should think along with you, giving you new insights that can help you make the right decisions. In my experience, a consultant with practical experience is your best partner for this. You won’t get far with theory alone. Trust is obviously also essential as it is the basis for a successful and long-standing professional relationship.
What was your experience in working together with Essensys?
Michel Janssens: Their professionalism typified my collaboration with them. As a candidate I got to know them as a partner who was able to offer me the right fit. This is no different as a customer. Their strength rests is getting the right fit. As long as they can deliver this, then I look forward to further collaboration with them.
Company profile
  • Established in 1973 as Diamond High Council (Hoge Raad voor Diamant)
  • 300 employees
  • Protects the interests of the Belgian diamond sector with official authorities and professional organisations
  • Objectives: To put Antwerp on the map - in Belgium and abroad - as a World Diamond Centre
  • Campaigns: ‘Diamonds love Antwerp’ and ‘Diamonds Divas’
Solutions by Essensys
1. Together with AWDC, strategically thinking about the correct profile for a Human Resources manager
2. Filling the position of Human Resources manager within a very short space of time
3. Offering a flexible solution with the potential for a long term solution

Source: Sense magazine, June 2008