Global mergers and acquisitions (M&As) activity last year surpassed pre-pandemic levels and roughly matched previous record years 2007 and 2015. according to professional services company KPMG. This year, they are ready to climb higher.
A KPMG survey of more than 350 US businesses indicates that mergers are increasing due to easy access to capital, low interest rates, and a recovering global economy.
For managers and other employees, M&As bring uncertainty. The history of the acquiring company can sometimes indicate what is to come: whether the company tends to leave the acquisition alone, or often to combine activities, which can lead to significant changes, including layoffs.
While new CIOs, new company cultures, and new product roadmaps can mean tough changes, when managed properly, they can lead to career opportunities for IT staff. That’s more important than ever, with employees leaving in record numbers for many reasons.
Last year, the multinational Fintech company Sovos Compliance LLC acquired seven companies. Sovos has more than 2,000 employees in 11 countries and 20,000 customers (including half the Fortune 500) operating in more than 70 countries.
Sovos chief talent officer Colleen Schlagel says acquisitions are often the fastest route for a company to deliver new capabilities; At the same time, employees of the acquired company face major cultural changes.
Virginia Costa, a software engineer by trade, was employed by Convey Compliance Systems as general manager in Tucuman (TUC), a province in northern Argentina, when it was acquired by Sovos in 2014. She was in charge of built the Convey Development Center of Excellence at TUC in partnership with the existing development team in Minnesota. At the time, the team in Tucuman consisted of about 60 employees, but most of the business knowledge was still in Minnesota, so it was important to build a cohesive team between the two locations.
Computerworld spoke with Schlagel and Costa to gain insight into how to navigate an IT career during and after the acquisition. The following are edited portions of those interviews:
What’s behind Sovos’ seven acquisitions in 2021? [Schlagel] “M&A has always been, and will continue to be, a part of Sovos’ strategic business plan. Usually, acquisitions are the fastest way to deliver new capabilities when and where they are needed most.”
What was the hardest part about acquiring Sovos, and where did you initially work at the company? [Costa] “For me, the hardest part was getting our team through the uncertainty, making sure I gave the staff peace of mind, explaining that there was nothing to fear and, if so, here’s a resource. New opportunities to continue to grow and demonstrate our values.
“I remember the first time [Sovos’] The CEO visited our office at TUC. I introduced him to our team and I focused on showcasing our great value set. I believe that our culture and core values are a great complement to the larger organization and that we have a lot of best practices for sharing and enriching the culture and the organization. my own (which I am proud to say is what happened in the end). “
How do acquisitions affect the careers of IT staff, including executives? [Schlagel] “The biggest impact on employees is often the cultural shift from being a smaller company to integrating into a larger, multicultural global organization. Benefits for employees at the acquired company. They often have access to benefits and programs not previously available and the opportunity to take their careers in new directions…. I can say this from experience. personal experience as I joined Sovos through acquisitions and became the company’s chief talent officer.”
In what ways are you concerned about your position in the acquisition process? [Costa] “As much as I try to be rational about it, I have concerns at some point – not just about myself and my role, but also about my team. I feel this is only natural, as we all tend to resist change. In this regard, I am very fortunate to have great leaders who have empowered me and given me a lot of confidence. “
How did you achieve career growth when it could have gone the other way (and often happens after an acquisition)? [Costa] “In my case, the acquisition opened up the possibility of managing teams in other countries, identifying a series of good practices and iterating on them – learning from other acquisitions and improving yourself in each repetition. The key in my case was to quickly realize the fact that as we merge into a larger multinational, there will be plenty of opportunities for people who are willing to take on the challenge and show their passion. passionate about. For example, the acquisition opened the door for me to manage teams in other countries. And I found a great way to add value by identifying a series of good practices and helping new Sovos members join the board more quickly and successfully, but also always be on the lookout to spot good practices and good ideas that other companies that have merged into Sovos bring together. “
What advice would you give to others who find themselves at an acquired company? [Costa] “My advice is to build trust with your leaders, both ways. Learn to trust them and work very hard to earn their trust. Also be transparent about your thoughts and vision, don’t keep it to yourself. Finally, and most importantly, be ready to manage your team through uncertainty and keep your perspective open, always ready to learn new ways of doing things. Like the captain of a ship in a storm, our teams look to us to understand the situation, and if we can stay calm and positive there is a good chance the merger will be smooth and successful. labour. “
What is the best piece of advice you would give an IT manager or tech worker when it comes to improving their chances? [Schlagel] “Don’t limit yourself. When you come to a new organization, don’t be limited by your job description. Look for opportunities within the organization to get involved. Whether it’s a tech team focused on a particular deliverable product or a charity committee looking to serve the interests of the community, put yourself out there, get to know your peers. outside your area. One of the best parts about joining a global organization is the variety of levels and sizes the company has to offer. Don’t be afraid to join, you will be amazed at how many doors this can open. “
What is the best advice you can give when it comes to developing your IT career? [Schlagel] “Be curious and see every situation as an opportunity. Technology is about solving problems, and organizations are always looking for people who proactively identify problems and provide solutions. Do this consistently and opportunities will continue to appear. “
How much harder it is to find IT talent these days and why? [Schlagel] “Finding quality IT talent has always been a challenge for companies, but it is certain that this has become of new importance and the level of difficulty has increased over the past few years. Part of the problem is that supply and demand has never been higher for qualified IT staff, and it has never been more competitive to identify, recruit and hire individuals with the skills we need. In my opinion, this can be directly traced to the desire of businesses to automate more processes and introduce more technology into the workplace, as businesses increasingly rely on technology. , the demand for IT human resources increases.”
What’s the difference between navigating an IT career during a pandemic and The Great Resignation? [Schlagel] “The pandemic is a critical time for business. IT is managing multiple remote locations and the demand for their skills has never been higher. Combine that with the Big Resignation and now you’re in. there is a situation where the demand for skills is outstripping the availability of talent which has put IT staff in a situation that is both enviable and difficult. Yes, the opportunity is there. But at the same time , it’s never been harder to stay cohesive and manageable in your current situation”.
What are the biggest challenges facing IT staff looking for work today compared to two years ago? [Schlagel] “In other words, uncertainty. The future of work is still being determined and its impact on IT is still a mystery. When IT staff are looking for new opportunities, they are doing as So what is it based on a prediction of what their new workplace will look like in six months or a year Will they work remotely Will their teams be scattered across the country or around the world? What will the new global economy’s demand for technology and services look like?Despite positive signs that we’re almost out of the pandemic, there’s still a lot of uncertainty because how it relates to work.”
What do you expect when recruiting IT talent now? [Schlagel] “One of our core values at Sovos is adaptability. This feature has never been more applicable than it is now. As we sit here today, I can’t tell you with certainty what the future of work will look like and when and if things will ever return to the way they were before the pandemic. So when we look for IT talent, equal to their qualifications and capabilities is the ability to adapt to changing situations and continue to produce excellent results as situations evolve rapidly. . “
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https://www.computerworld.com/article/3652540/qa-your-companys-been-bought-heres-how-to-keep-your-it-career-on-track.html#tk.rss_all Q&A: Your company has been purchased – here’s how to keep your IT career on track