To some extent, he says, permanent staff see a consultant's retention as a valuable chance for information exchange. "We have him for this long, they'll say 'let's take the chance to pick his brains'."

The skills-set for freelance and permanent CIO roles in Andrew's view does not differ significantly. "You're still giving people a lot of advice and working strategically with the business." A freelancer's job is inevitably more task-focused as, "there is a lot more clarity about what you're there to achieve and about the value you're providing".

During uncertain economic times, "there's no doubt about it, a permanent role is a lot more comfortable," he concedes. The problem has been not so much the recession itself, as the accompanying sense of uncertainty and drive to cost-containment that means projects get put on hold. The situation is changing for the better now, he says, "as people realise the sky isn't going to fall in".

The most important need for the freelance life is to cultivate one's networks, he says and, in New Zealand's small business community especially, "not to crap in your own nest. Don't bad-mouth people or take them down. You're going to need their goodwill."

Andrew finds the freelance consulting community "very co-operative. A lot of the people in my network are fellow freelancers. I'll put teams together for projects from people I trust."

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