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Creating boundaries as an interim: a chat with Lisa Ali

This week, we chatted to Lisa Ali, “the interim’s interim”, all about her bespoke work as a health coach in the interim sector. 

Following on from her 20 year career as an interim, Lisa decided to start a new adventure as a health coach after experiencing the negative effects that the life of an interim can have on your physical and mental health. 

Combining personal experience with industry knowledge, her 12 week coaching programme is designed exclusively for interim professionals looking to prioritise their health and wellbeing. 

Imperium Resourcing got the opportunity to catch up with Lisa and find out more about her unique role, as well as her perspective on being an interim in the current climate. 

“So Lisa, what do you do?”

“My mission is to help interim professionals take back control of their physical health and wellbeing, and lead more balanced lives,” Lisa tells us. 

Lisa explains that her ‘minimum viable dose’ approach ensures that an interim doesn’t have to make drastic changes to their lifestyle in order to achieve the results they desire when it comes to both their personal and professional life. 

“It’s not about going to the gym 5 times a week and living on an exclusive diet of chicken and rice because that’s just not realistic,” she adds. 

“My job is to understand what they can do to make sure the plan of action I’m providing is manageable alongside an already quite chaotic lifestyle.” 

From new projects, to unfamiliar faces in the office, interim are constantly experiencing change within their professional lives, so the prospect of additional change in their personal life can be daunting. 

“Some interims are simply not prioritising health…but it is a choice and it’s not as difficult as you may think.” 

As an ex-interim herself, Lisa shares that she too used to struggle with making time for her own health. Intriguingly, her change in mindset coincided with the moment she started setting boundaries at work: 

“I think there is this constant desire to be doing a job over and above because you get paid a good day rate. When I was interiming, it was always about the next contract – I got really unhealthy and ended up sticking my head in the sand because I thought I had to keep going.”

Lisa urges interims to understand the importance of the value they are adding when they are working, as this is a crucial factor in helping shape the way they approach their work-life balance and overall health: 

“Now I see it very differently because if you keep going you’re going to collapse on the job and ultimately, you won’t be adding value or support to anyone.” 

A lot of the work Lisa does today focuses on the importance of setting professional boundaries in a society obsessed with hustle culture:

“If you want a 4 day week – ask for it. Fancy going to the gym before work? Do it, set that expectation.

“On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who is opening your laptop at 7AM to reply to emails, then guess what? That’s what people are going to expect of you.

“You can create those boundaries for yourself,” she reiterates. 

“No one is asking you to do those things – as long as you’re delivering that’s the most important thing”. 

“How did you get into the world of interim work?”

Having worked in a diverse array of interim roles for over 20 years, we decided to ask Lisa how her journey to becoming an interim all started. 

“To be honest I fell into it, I actually wanted to be an actor when I was younger,” she laughs. 

However, after trying on a few professions for size, Lisa ended up finding herself in the world of contracting:

“I was offered short term contract pieces and they were more consultancy pieces – it was more we have X problem, can you come and do one thing? That expanded out into a couple of clients and then I fell into process analysis by accident on an interim basis. I went from having a number of consultancy clients, to working on contracts with particular people doing specific projects.

“I’ve also been asked to go permanent before, but I’ve always said no. I’m not the right person for doing that kind of work. As an interim you’re always engaged, and never tied to one place – I love that aspect of it.” 

“What was your favourite interim role and why?” 

“Working for the Associated Press was the biggest role I ever did, I had never worked in global news and it was a remarkable organisation,” she gleams. 

“It was a massive programme of work and they weren’t renowned for delivering on programmes but we delivered.”  

“How do interims know they’re in the right role?”

“Ask yourself; ‘am I adding value?’. If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn’t be there. 

“Someone once told me being an interim is about three things: daily rate, daily rate, daily rate – but I disagree. I think you’ve got to consider A) enjoyment, B) are you going to add value? And C) will you feel you’re getting the rate you deserve for the value.” 

“In this instance the phrase ‘hit the ground running’ rings very true. You’ll be expected to make an impact immediately and some people just aren’t suited to it; just like I’m not suited to permanent roles.

“Interim work shouldn’t be the default, you have to want to do it.” 

“Final words of wisdom?” 

“If you’re good at what you do there’s always going to be work,” Lisa tells us. 

To find out more about Lisa’s health and weight loss programme tailored exclusively to suit busy interim professionals, then click here or book in an initial no obligation call today. 

Here at Imperium Resourcing, we offer a wide range of interim roles which you can browse here. Alternatively, get in touch with a member of our dedicated team via [email protected] and let us know what you’re looking for. 


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