The WashingtonExec Strategic Human Capital Council kicked off its second year by welcoming Steve Woolwine of URS as the group’s new Chairman. Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of Acentia, a mid-size, private equity backed government contractor based in Falls Church, Va., served as the group’s keynote speaker on the topic of how human capital leaders can better contribute to a M&A transaction success.
Throughout his career, Stottlemyer has served in multiple leadership roles for more than 50 merger and acquisition deals in the technology, commercial and financial sectors. He sat down with the government contracting industry’s top human capital professionals to share how he believes the HR role can better contribute to smooth transitions on both the acquirer and ‘acquiree’ sides of business deals.
Stottlemyer emphasized the importance evaluating the two different company cultures as a part of the due diligence process long before the transaction is finalized. A company culture assessment on both sides of a transaction is key to a smooth integration; the most successful deals he has seen have been when both company cultures adapt to form the new organization.
Anxiety can be felt on both sides of an M&A transaction and it is the role of human capital professionals to continue to recognize, acknowledge and communicate integration planning at all levels of the business. Most mergers create duplicate roles and layoffs are often part of the M&A process. The group agreed that when workforce retention decisions are made, those decisions must be accomplished quickly and with dignity: if the retention process is drawn out it will hurt the organization’s morale and bottom line. It is difficult to have employees focus on customers if they are worried about maintaining employment; employees on both sides should know as soon as possible where their value stands in the new organization.
After the formal M&A transaction is complete, Stottlemyer is a proponent of the “best athlete” approach, meaning that the acquisition should be a tool to upgrade the overall talent of the company. However, the senior leadership team often might not know who the “stars” are or where the key influencers of current customers reside. This is where HR comes in. Human capital leaders can better help the M&A transaction process by aiding the M&A leadership team in identifying key influencers in the organization who might not necessarily have a c-suite title but who will be champions through the acquisition process and beyond.
The presentation also covered why some M&A transactions fail in the government contracting space; including: corporate strategy does not drive acquisition strategy, poor diligence, overpay, bad cultural fit, too much small business content and/or subcontract work and failure to retain true key people.
Each participating WashingtonExec Strategic Human Capital Council VP of Human Capital or equivalent member nominates one critical talent individual within their organization to help develop the next generation of HR leadership through business acumen, professional development and networking programs.