Nordic Interim has the pleasure to work with Lars Ingman, interim Group CFO since 2016. We have talked to him about his current assignments, why he has chosen a career as an Interim Manager, and how to recover from a demanding job.
Already in the early 1990s, Lars got his first CFO role at Salenia where he was heavily involved in the growth of the aviation company Skyways from a small company to having around 1,000 employees at most. The aerospace industry is the most difficult industry he has been working in, it is difficult to make money and there is a great deal of interest from the mass media to consider: “It was very complex, both capital- and staff-intensive. It was a real baptism of fire when the aviation market rapidly went down in September 2001. However, we managed to adapt the business to the situation, and after a few years, we made money again. After seven years I switched to Forex Bank. It can be difficult to see the correlation between currency and aviation – but both are about logistics, both have inventory, and you move both money and aircraft. The questions are not so different even though they are different products, such as seeing where we make money, what does the cash flow look like, and how do you reduce the stock, whether it is money or spare parts.”
With several exciting companies, such as Cederroth and Venue Retail Group under his belt, in 2015 he took the step to an interim career. My first assignment through Nordic Interim was as Group CFO and for a period also CEO of Aura Light. The second was as CFO of OneMed were one of the assignments one was to drive the Due Diligence process prior to the sale of the company to Nalka Invest: “It was a large and complex deal with about 100 advisors in 10 countries. You have to have good employees, otherwise, you are screwed.” Since November 2021, he is interim Group CFO at the listed real estate company John Mattson where he is, among other things, supporting the new CEO, driving financing matters, and responsible for the annual report, and governance issues. “We have recently acquired Hefab, which has basically doubled the business. It is a complex integration of personnel, systems, and financing, etc. Working as CFO requires a lot of effort and time on ensuring that all rules and requirements placed on a listed company are met in terms of, among other things, reporting to the market and governance issues.”
What is most important when leading a change?
“To talk, to be transparent and to listen. Most people are positive and want to be involved, but you need to give them time and be clear about when, where, and how. You must see the individuals, talk to them, and not sit on your high horses and think you know everything the best. Everything is based on getting the staff on board and being clear, otherwise, you will not succeed.”
How do you ensure that you have a good work/life balance?
“My mother, who was a Swedish-speaking Finn, always said that ‘you should work hard’, and I do not have a problem with working a lot. During large projects, you must always be prepared to work 24/7. When I have free time, I like to play tennis and ski, both downhill and cross-country, and we have just visited our son who is studying in Portugal. I enjoy a mix of family, friends and work. It rarely helps to whine, if you constantly tell everyone how much you work and how stressed you are, it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Why have you chosen to work as an Interim Manager?
“I want to be an Interim Manager for the rest of my professional life. As a senior, it is easier to get exciting interim assignments than an exciting permanent job. I am no less willing to work today compared to when I was younger. It is just a matter of being curious, staying up to date and not saying ‘it used to be better’. At 55 the recruiters stopped calling, there seems to be an age bias. It is a paradox that you are highly sought after as an experienced Interim Manager, but completely uninteresting for permanent recruitment.”