Our interim managers: Elisabeth Polanyi

14. November 2019

Elisabeth Polanyi

Elisabeth Polanyi has been working as an interim manager, trainer and coach for the next level consulting interim management team worldwide since 2014. In a short interview, she provides insights into herself and her work.

1) Can you describe yourself in a few words?

As an experienced project and portfolio manager, my life is all about doing everything I can to bring my team and my clients into a comfort zone that gives them orientation and options for action. Above all, this involves maintaining an overview myself in order to provide the necessary information, ask the right questions and also listen. I think that in the roles we take on in companies on an interim basis, we are often the rock in the surf and provide targeted support with an outside perspective. Self-management and a great deal of interest in unique tasks make this possible time and again from day to day.

I like to describe myself as an overview person with the need to develop options and structure situations. In practice, however, it is also important to take others along on this journey, i.e. to prepare and communicate everything in a way that is appropriate for the recipient.

2) What professional experience do your customers benefit from?

From the very beginning, I was responsible for projects, processes, customer support and later also teams, major projects and programmes. In my now 10 years of self-employment, I have also taken on a wide range of teaching, training, moderation and coaching tasks.

Over the years, I have gained in-depth insights into various industries, be it banking and insurance, IT and telecoms, manufacturing or the property sector. Projects as temporary organisations offer so much potential if we welcome the complexity of the content and the diversity of the people involved and use them accordingly to achieve our goals.

3) What were your last assignments?

The last assignments were the management of a large programme with distributed software development and a hybrid approach from Manchester via Rome and Ljubljana to Krakow, the coaching of a project to outsource an organisational unit and an assignment as interim project portfolio manager.

4) What do your clients particularly appreciate about your performance as an interim manager? And how do you manage to familiarise yourself with a new mandate as an interim manager as quickly as possible?

Planning, managing, communicating and empowering teams are our bread and butter. Clients recognise this and appreciate the focus that is possible because interim managers are independent of the client's internal dynamics. This makes it possible to gather information, constructively utilise any resistance for the cause and incorporate the expertise of the team and stakeholders.

5) Why do you think it makes sense for companies to use interim managers?

I see several reasons for using interim managers. Often it is the very relevant previous experience, sometimes also the distinct ability to develop and implement complex solutions with interdisciplinary teams. Collaboration with a project manager with a high level of technical expertise has also proved to be a good idea, as the specific relief from all project management issues, stakeholder and client communication and the preparation of decisions brings great synergies.

6) What do you do when you're not doing IM?

I have been enthusiastically teaching coaching and change management at universities of applied sciences for many years. As a mental coach, I teach people how to find their own intuition and the courage to follow their own path. Family and friends, exercise in nature and relaxed travelling, especially to Italy and France, are what ground me in my private life.


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