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Interim Insights - Ozay Ali

by Shannon Walsh


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Ozay Ali is a Housing Development Transformation Director at Ealing Council, as an interim leader, he brings a wealth of experience and insight to the table. We sat down with Ozay to delve into his experiences and glean insights into his dynamic role. Here’s what he had to share:

What led you to a career as an interim?
After a 32-year career in a wide variety of senior social housing roles, I decided a career refresh was needed. So, after taking a little time out, I started to look at interim roles. It was a natural choice for me, as I had a wide range of skills and experiences that could help me succeed in interim roles across the local authority and registered housing provider sectors.

What do you enjoy most about being an interim?
I enjoy the sheer diversity of roles that become available and the fact that no two roles are ever the same. For example, I have provided strategic advice, managed a large change programme, helped deliver an investment strategy, delivered a compliance improvement plan, led on an MMC development pilot, advised a range of local authority clients on housing delivery vehicles, and led the creation of new housing delivery vehicles.

What are the challenges you face as an interim, and how important is leadership style?
Good interims need to be able to work at pace, but the main challenge is to understand the client’s requirements and then work to deliver the outcomes required. The client’s requirements often change, so being adaptable is key. Whilst interims often work on their own, a collegiate leadership style is really important. Clients will expect to see progress throughout the assignment, so good organisational, planning, and communication skills are also important.

Keep within the brief and avoid being distracted - listen to the client and be prepared to adapt to new challenges that may arise at any time during the assignment.

What difference have I made in organisations? 
I hope that I have always left my clients with a good impression of my time in their organisations. I believe that I help organisations solve problems, deal with succession or a transition, deliver a transformation, help plan and deliver a new strategy, and generally help my clients move to the next phase of their business or operational plans. Quite often, organisations seek interims when they lack a certain set of skills or knowledge, so every interim role I have undertaken has involved some form of coaching and mentoring support. Often working through a problem with the client's teams can build confidence and capacity that will serve the client long after the interim has moved on.

In your current role, if possible, to share, what were the drivers that led to an interim being recruited? And why do you think an interim is the best way of solving that problem in this scenario?
My current role is a transformation role, within a challenging operating climate for all local authorities seeking to develop genuinely affordable homes. The drivers for recruiting an interim were strategic, operational, and financial, and the client was determined to expedite change through a transformative approach. The client had limited internal capacity or experience to drive the transformation, so an experienced interim was an obvious choice. I appreciate the fact that they appointed me.

I am about 75% through the assignment, and I am pleased to advise that the work plan is very much on target. Aside from helping with some operational and policy work, I have focused on improvements in general governance and relationship management. As an experienced interim, I am able to move at pace in a challenging situation, and the feedback from my client has been very positive.

What makes a good interim? 
Good interims are highly valuable because they can make a really positive impact in a short space of time. It’s really important that interims are able to lead and communicate effectively, and good interims can inspire others to learn and improve. It’s important that interims also check how their client feels about their work at any point throughout the assignment. Be prepared to change and adapt to situations that may arise within the organisation and provide feedback to the organisation that will help them use the full range of your skills and competencies.

Finally, always enjoy being an interim. I made the choice 15 years ago and have never looked back.


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