Morgan Christofferson has recently completed an assignment with Nordic Interim as Interim Operations Director at Sodexo. We spoke with him about his career and his experiences as an Interim Manager.

Morgan, can you tell us why you chose a career as an Interim Manager?

“After more than 20 years in line manager roles, I wanted to try something different. I have always enjoyed driving concrete assignments and projects with clear projects, preferably involving complex changes. It was time to share my knowledge and lead teams in turbulent times. Identifying patterns in chaotic situations has always been my strength, and I always work based on the customer’s values, whether it’s about cutting costs or driving business-critical projects; the important thing is to generate value. I have engaged Interim Managers myself and have seen that they have fun!”

You have a broad background in the forest industry, food-, and service sectors; can you share some of your experiences?

“I started my career at SCA, where I was Product Group Manager for FMCG in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. After some time in sales and marketing, I joined CandyKing in 1998 as CEO during a period of strong growth. After 10 years, we sold the company to a Private Equity firm, and I left the company; it was the right time for something new. My next role was as COO for Selecta, selling coffee machines and vending machines, in, for example, the subway.

When a new CEO came in, I took on the role of VP of Sales & Marketing Nordics & Baltics. When I decided to become an Interim Manager in 2012, Selecta immediately hired me while they were looking for my successor.

Through my own network, I got my next assignment at Fazer Food Service as Commercial Director. On the same day as I started, a new CEO also began, and I helped him set up structures and bring order to the organization. I later took on the role permanently, but when it became too much administration, I wanted to return to interim assignments and directly got the assignment from Fazer to lead the sales of the company to Compass Group. The focus was on creating a structure complying with European legislation. I then stayed within the company as interim Growth & Retention Director, working on how to build and grow the market, including coaching the management team, restructuring the sales organization, and recruiting my successor.”

You have just completed a role as Interim Operations Manager for the food services in the public sector at Sodexo; what was your assignment?

“The business area targets schools, preschools, and elderly care with 450 employees and half a billion in turnover. Sodexo had issues with a contract where they were losing a lot of money, and it was a complex challenge to get it in order. There were also relatively new managers in the business area who needed support, and I worked a lot on stabilizing the team and creating calm.”

Can you tell us what is most important when entering a company as an Interim Manager?

“Change leadership is absolutely crucial; you must be honest, dare to be open about what is not working, and be neutral towards opinions and internal politics. You should be close to the organization, support and explain why the change is happening and each person’s importance in it. Setting clear priorities and creating a ‘we’ is important.

It’s fun to be an interim, and I believe that my passion is contagious and that the team feels that it’s exciting when good things happen, and you are successful. I am very committed to my assignments and teams, and it is always a small grieving process to leave. You do the job for real, are engaged, and work close to the team. You give your full commitment!”

You have engaged Interim Managers yourself; what is the advantage for a company to use this solution?

“In this way, you get a highly experienced and overqualified person who understands the challenges. It is valuable to get an external perspective and reflection. An Interim Manager quickly gets on track, things happen immediately, and old truths are questioned. Often, the organization knows what needs to be done, but no one has taken action. The organization always has a lot of knowledge but may not have had the strength or energy. With an Interim Manager, you get a catalyst who sees things in a context, sets priorities, and implements what needs to be done.”

What will you do now after having left Sodexo?

“Now I am going skiing in Åre and the Alps! I can highly recommend Sella Ronda in the Italian Dolomites. There are several ski resorts, and you can go around the entire mountain in the same lift system. The food there is fantastic, both typical Bavarian and Italian food, and the prices are reasonable.”