What is a fractional executive?

AboveBoard | May 25, 2022

Unlock the power of short-term leadership, long-term results.

The gig economy isn’t going anywhere, and C-suites are reaping some of the benefits.

Meet fractional executives, the growing number of part-time or interim leaders taking on pivotal work in C-suites across the country. Rather than becoming full-time fixtures at a given organization, these innovators are opting to offer their expertise and services for a fraction of the time and cost.

What is a fractional executive?

Fractional executives are typically former executives who provide their services and expertise toward an organization’s strategic goals, projects, or broader initiatives. They usually do so on a part-time or contract basis, leading fractional executives to sometimes be referred to as part-time, interim, outsourced, contract, or even gig executives. Fractional C-suite employees are valuable members of a team, capitalizing on their years of proven experience to get results. Think of fractional executives as highly-involved executive consultants who offer their expertise in whichever sphere your company is in need of.

Fractional executive services were particularly in demand at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as many companies found it necessary to pivot their strategies amidst the crisis. These part-time executive job openings are only predicted to increase, per CEO and Co-Founder of Sales Xceleration Mark Thacker, as companies realize the incredible value these specialty hires can bring.

“As people take stock of their lives and leave their jobs in droves, seasoned leaders will be looking for new opportunities to use their expertise and acumen but might not want to sign up for a decade of service,” Thacker wrote in an article for Fast Company. “As an alternative, companies that need to populate the C-Suite and plan strategic shifts can rely on fractional leadership to bring in fresh perspectives into the organization, while avoiding the headache of traditional executive recruiting.”

What are fractional executive services?

Fractional executive services are forms of highly-specialized support often intended to carry your company through a specific season or stage of growth. For example, fractional C-suite leaders often work alongside an organization while the search for a permanent executive is underway, for the duration of a project or initiative, or until the company’s growth can sustain a full-time executive. 

In an article for, fractional executive Katie Murphy outlines some instances in which fractional executive services can be of great value, including:

  • If a company’s managers are lacking a specific set of skills, such as the skills a full-time COO or CMO may have. 
  • When the organization’s financial, marketing, or operational duties are substantial but don’t yet require full-time personnel.
  • When the organization's current operating model needs a boost.

One benefit of choosing to fill a part-time executive job is that these managers “are much more closely associated with the company than outsourcing or consulting service providers, while being more cost effective than full-time employees,” according to a March 2022 article published in the Journal of Business Strategy

For example, fractional executive services of “particular benefit to startups and small businesses is a fractional CFO or Controller.” These part-time executives “can provide an organization with the skills to perform all of the activities that a finance and accounting department should perform and provide a consistent leadership voice on all finance-related matters,” per the journal.

Part-time executive jobs can also include Chief Executive Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer. 

How do part-time executive jobs work?

Fractional executives are hyper-focused

It's simple. Part-time executives are called in to get the job done. Their scope of work is usually tailored or limited, allowing them to be extremely focused and results-oriented. One of the many benefits of hiring an outside fractional executive is that you’ll get a fresh perspective into your organization’s processes. Plus, part-time executives have the benefit of being more involved team players, especially compared to consultants who may tend to “deliver strategy without execution,” per Forbes

Fractional executive roles offer flexibility

Most fractional C-suite roles come with flexible work arrangements, meaning that employees can work remotely or in-person on occasion. Given the flexibility of location and the limited scope of work, it’s possible to be a fractional executive at more than one organization. According to, professionals who hold down multiple part-time executive jobs divide their hours among clients, sharing their expertise in a range of projects. This can be a great set up for former executives looking for a new challenge in their careers.

Connect with mission-driven fractional executives on AboveBoard

Ready to take your organization to the next level? A fractional executive could be just the hire you need to move from one stage of growth to another.

At AboveBoard, we're on a mission to empower organizations by addressing the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion head on. Our innovative hiring platform makes it easier than ever to connect with experienced executives who value diversity and innovation. Fractional executives are mission-oriented, and so are the more than 30,000+ senior executives from underrepresented backgrounds and demographics on AboveBoard. Join today to connect. 

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AboveBoard is an executive hiring platform that connects qualified executives with board and full-time opportunities. We are expanding access for underrepresented groups of executives—particularly Black, Latinx, and women. To join visit

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