The recession has mercilessly exposed any chinks in the armour of management teams – only the best have found growth amid the gloom.

With more portfolio companies facing difficulties than in the glory days before the credit crunch, it’s not surprising that there has been more call for interim executives. There are two typical scenarios when the investors will call for an interim, says Sam Smith, managing director of Marble Hill Partners, which provides interim management and executive search services for private equity firms.

The first is after an acquisition, when investors are looking for management of the portfolio company to accelerate growth at a time when it may have taken on significant new debt. “There could be a need for a higher-quality management team capable of meeting stretch targets”, says Smith.

The second situation is where a portfolio company needs turnaround expertise, perhaps from a corporate restructuring officer. “The best interims in the private equity world usually have breadth of experience,” says Smith. “They’ve been there and done it before and they know what good looks like.”