Following 22 years as Managing Director of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies based in continental Europe and North America, each of them in need of restructuring and process re-alignment to be integrated into the global company which had acquired them, I left the so-called “corporate world” to set up as an independent executive, helping businesses across a wide range of industries integrate companies they are acquiring or with which they have decided to merge.
I consider business integration to be an art, because it requires the combination of skill and talent. The “skill” element relates to the techniques, tools and experience which contribute towards a coherent integration process. The “talent” relates to leadership skills : the ability to rapidly grasp the big picture and consequences of a particular business situation, to draw conclusions and make decisions rather than remain paralyzed in analysis, and very importantly the ability to communicate effectively and “walk the talk”.
Whilst my passion and key ability are now anchored in the M&A integration space, my long experience of managing companies in a variety of environments enables me to understand the imperatives and reality with which business leaders are confronted, and therefore adopt a pragmatic and results-oriented approach to my work rather than force academic models onto a business.
From Strategy to actual Implementation …
Integrating two merging businesses is a new experience for most people : they do not know what to expect, they have no sense of where the hurdles lie, they cannot diagnose problems that are beginning to surface before it’s too late. This is the value I can bring to company integrations during mergers or significant acquisitions on an national or international scale. I have been there before – a great number of times. I can help people prepare and plan for the forthcoming integration, steer them through the implementation, organize them in a way that will allow effective cross-functional collaboration and enable a thorough re-thinking of the company’s processes and ways of working, set-up effective communication and stakeholder management, and act as an effective interface between the Company and the external consultants assigned to specific aspects of the integration.
Crucially, my focus on the integration process allows my Client’s management team to concentrate primarily on running the day-to-day business and protects it from most of the disruption many companies suffer during a merger or acquisition.
Working with Client Companies and their Advisors
When I join an organisation to plan, prepare and drive a business integration, some people ask me how a consultant can manage other consultants. The short answer is that I do not consider myself to be a consultant, but rather a senior interim executive. The difference is not semantic. As an interim, I am a member of the Client’s team – albeit on a provisional basis – with a clear mandate to conduct the integration and be accountable for its successful outcome. I blend into the Client company, adopt their ways of working, their vocabulary, their dress code, their house rules and T&E guidelines.
Conversely, my presence in the merging companies’ executive team gives the external advisors and consultants involved in the integration process a central point of contact on the client side, someone who understands what needs to be done, who appreciates the complexity of a post-merger integration and also knows how to manage that complexity and the numerous inter-dependencies that come into play.
Because of this, the external advisors and consultants do not need to spend any time explaining and convincing the Client of what needs to be done, how, when and why it is important. Instead, work can progress with a Client company embarking on its first major acquisition in the same way as it would with a business that it fully accustomed to this kind of activity.
Ultimately, this leads to a swift and successful post-merger integration.
Sharing the Knowledge
“This book is a first class reference source for delivering the business case of any merger or acquisition. Paul Siegenthaler’s experience as a practicing manager in the field of international M&A is unrivalled. His insights and advice are invaluable. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone thinking about M&A as a route to growing business or improving public service efficiencies.”
Following on from the book’s pragmatic approach to strategy implementation, H.E.C. Business School in Paris asked me in 2010 to run a course of post-merger integration which has now become part of the regular syllabus of their Executive MBA programme. Similarly, I now teach on programmes run by London School of Economic’s executive education unit “LSE Enterprise”, as well as Manchester Business School, designed specifically to train senior managers of companies which are about to embark on a major acquisition or a merger.
For more detail on my background and experience, click here