It was an honour to deliver a half-day M&A integration/leadership workshop at the DBWC of Dubai Chamber of Commerce. These leaders were engaging and energetic and I so enjoyed tapping into their brilliant minds.
I covered the current global M&A environment, the impressive M&A development in the MENA region (2018 saw a record increase in deal value of 69%!). We explored how to avoid the seven most common mistakes in M&A integration and the skillset we need to increase the odds of success. We compared the integration scene with that of the future and concluded that with so many similar components, M&A integration is like a training-incubator for successful leadership in the future.
And how fitting to discuss the dynamic growth of M&A in Dubai! I was reminded that sixty years ago Dubai was little more than a village, its economy relying on pearling and fishing. The view from the workshop venue was the metropolis of today – the world’s air travel hub with a population of more than 3 Million, 190 skyscrapers, and the platform for EXPO 2020 Dubai expecting millions of visitors from around the world. I was inspired by the gratitude and excitement expressed by the participants around change and expansion.
In New Delhi recently, I was working with a listed company to prepare for their imminent acquisition integration with a similar-sized organisation. Every national company culture teaches me new things. In an interactive management session, we discussed attrition patterns in integration and attitude to change. A completely different mindset in India and especially when the Government is a key player.
And as usual, much is dealing with the frustration of managers at different levels not being prepared and not having answers for their teams. Pre-deal planning, communication and speed are some of the areas I keep coming back to.
I was also reminded that when exploring corporate cultures, it’s important not to see differences as automatic issues. They are challenges that need to be managed effectively. We need diversity for innovation and for building teams that reflect current and future customers. I know, easier said than done, but worth focussing on for results.
Another recent highlight for me was being a panellist speaker at the Thomson Reuters International M&A Conference in London. Most other speakers and participants were lawyers and legal experts, but I was invited as part of a minority contingent to discuss integration issues around corporate and national cultures. I learned much from both speakers and the audience. It felt crucial that all of us were connecting through different perspectives. With the common goal to improve M&A outcomes.
One lawyer asked what they can do as a team besides the obvious negotiations and closure. Yes, officially their task is finished once the deal is closed but both lawyers and brokers have a powerful platform and voice pre-deal to help steer the new leadership in the right direction. Cultural due diligence and pre-integration planning are such important steps. I naturally recommended my corporate talks Successful leading in M&A for senior management and Turning your merger into an opportunity for employees and managers!
When the Chairman of the conference delivered his closing remarks, I was delighted that he highlighted an emphasis on culture, people and trust for successful integration.