After seasoned executive Duncan Thomas healed from advanced melanoma, he seriously reflected on what he wanted from life and work and decided to become an “itinerant CEO.” For Thomas, that means getting a five-to-six-month executive gig—recent stints include leading a medical practice and a software firm—then taking a break to spend time with his family and recharge before moving on to the next position. Thomas is not the only itinerant CEO out there—others have adopted a similar lifestyle working as freelance or interim CEOs.
CEO is probably not the job you think of when you hear the term “gig work.” More likely, it’s an Uber driver or food delivery person that comes to mind. But freelancing is increasingly common in all sectors and across skill levels. A recent study by Upwork found that the majority of freelance work in 2021 (53 percent, up from 45 percent in 2019) was highly skilled labor in fields like computer programming, writing, design, IT, marketing, and business consulting.
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This article was produced by Footnote in partnership with University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.