She is often hailed as the M&A whisperer, while she playfully identifies herself as the next French Ambassador. A survivor of three multibillion-dollar acquisitions, Jennifer Fondrevay sheds light on how transitions don’t just change the business, it also changes the story for the people in it. She will shift your viewpoint on the inner workings of mergers and acquisitions and remind us that things are not always what they appear from the outside. There is always more to the story……. so get ready for some good advice on how to not just survive, but thrive.
In this insightful episode, Anirvan Sen and Jennifer dive deep into the often-overlooked aspect of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) – organizational culture.
Jennifer elucidates how the neglect of cultural assessment during the initial due diligence process can potentially unravel surprising challenges post-deal. By drawing parallels from her personal experiences, Jennifer narrates how her American B2B company’s acquisition by a European B2C company exposed stark differences in organizational cultures, proving the significance of cultural considerations in M&A.
Taking us through her journey, Jennifer shares the inspiration behind her book, “NOW WHAT?: A Survivor’s Guide for Thriving Through Mergers & Acquisitions.” The book delves into the experiences and transformations of ten personas during M&A transitions, offering invaluable guidance for navigating such changes.
Listen in as we unravel the role of culture in M&A, and why it needs to be at the forefront of any successful merger or acquisition. This episode is a must-listen for anyone involved in M&A or those looking to understand the intricacies of organizational culture in such scenarios.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, Jennifer talks with Nicole Mahoney about navigating uncertainty and embracing transformation. Jennifer shares best practices for entering into a partnership and explores the similarities between M&A and collaboration and how the principles and processes of both can be applied to achieve success in any transformational journey.
What You Will Learn in this Episode:
- What happens when you bring two cultures together after a merger, and how to avoid some of the typical challenges
- Why it’s critical to be intentional about your values when planning a partnership
- The importance of getting past your ego when making key decisions
- Why you have to ensure that customer experience is your North Star to maximize a collaboration’s success
- Jennifer shares her wisdom for leaders and teams looking to navigate the complexities of mergers and acquisitions
Helping Partnerships Thrive
Jennifer shares valuable insights for leaders and their teams considering a merger or acquisition, emphasizing the importance of respect for the other company. Drawing on the analogy of a successful marriage, Jennifer highlights that partnerships thrive on both sides bringing out the best in each other and recognizing the value each brings to the partnership.
She stresses the need for humility and respect when entering into a partnership and cautions against letting ego drive decision-making, which can lead to unsuccessful deals. Jennifer’s advice is a must-listen for anyone looking to enter into a successful partnership.
Finding Your North Star
On the podcast, we discuss the importance of being intentional and self-aware of your value when entering into a merger or acquisition. She emphasizes the need to keep the customer at the forefront of any decision-making process, using the example of a successful acquisition where a junior product manager reminded the team to focus on the customer’s needs rather than their own egos.
Jennifer highlights that keeping the customer as the North Star can help diminish the impact of ego in business and keep teams focused on the true reason for their work. She has some great golden nuggets of wisdom that provide valuable guidance for leaders and teams looking to navigate the complexities of mergers and acquisitions.
Jennifer emphasizes the importance of the people piece in M&A; she says that there is no specific playbook for these types of deals, as each one has its unique opportunities and challenges. However, she encourages people to be intentional and contribute to the evolution of their organization.
Jennifer suggests bringing your particular skills to the partnership, embracing uncertainty, and looking for new opportunities. She also talks about the importance of collaboration, letting go of old ways, and contributing to the new vision.
“The payday is a lovely part. But don’t let that drive how you look for your partner, particularly if you want to leave a legacy worthwhile,” explains Jennifer Fondrevay. Mergers and acquisitions have a bad reputation, in part because statistics show that 70-90% of deals fail. However, it is important to still see a merger or acquisition as a viable growth strategy.
Jennifer Fondrevay known as the ‘MA Whisperer’, is Andy Lopata’s guest on this week’s Connected Leadership Podcast. Jennifer outlines the stages employees may face during a merger including grief, putting a strain on relationships and uncertainty of the future. She emphasizes the importance of connecting with the frontliners, listening to employees and valuing and respecting their comments. Preparation for possible challenges, transparency, understanding the culture of the companies involved can all help to move towards consensus.
The environment post-merger/acquisition is largely a question of morale; involving competition, collaboration and ‘survivors guilt’.
“The payday is a lovely part. But don’t let that drive how you look for your partner, particularly if you want to leave a legacy worthwhile,” explains Jennifer Fondrevay. Jennifer has survived three major multibillion dollar acquisitions and is the author of Now What? A Survivor’s Guide for Thriving through Mergers and Acquisitions. In her conversation with Kiley Peters, she shares her tips for changing the narrative on mergers and acquisitions.
Mergers and acquisitions have a bad reputation, in part because statistics show that 70-90% of deals fail. However, it is important to still see a merger or acquisition as a viable growth strategy. This type of deal is not just about finances, but is really more similar to a marriage in that you really need to be very intentional about who you choose as a partner. It also helps to remember that when considering the valuation of your business, your people contribute value as well. From the very start, you should consider your communication strategy for how you will get your people on board with and even excited for the coming changes, otherwise you risk losing talent due to miscommunication.
People are typically wary of change and aversive to uncertainty. This is why even just the words ‘mergers and acquisitions’ often cause people to stress and worry for the future. When you are upfront and clear about your vision for the business and communicate the plan with your employees, they are more likely to rally around you and buy into your vision.
“Consider a merger or an acquisition as a viable growth strategy play.” (2:26-2:31 | Jennifer)
“The payday is a lovely part. But don’t let that drive how you look for your partner, particularly if you want to leave a legacy worthwhile.” (5:05-5:15 | Jennifer)
“If you’re thinking just financials and you haven’t thought about, ‘how am I going to explain this in a way that gets people really rallied around it and excited’, you’re going to lose some talent.” (7:31-7:41 | Jennifer)
“People ultimately embrace change and they understand that things have changed, but what they don’t like is prolonged uncertainty.” (8:22-8:29 | Jennifer)
“Start thinking about what that communications piece is when you’re thinking about the deal. Don’t wait until you’ve made the announcement.” (29:23-29:28 | Jennifer)
“Being crystal clear on your value is what helps you to embrace uncertainty.” (38:19-38:24 | Jennifer)
Ritu Poddar at MergerWare speaks with Jennifer Fondrevay about the superpowers women have during the M&A process.
Jennifer joins Timothy Hughes on #TimTalk to dive into mergers and acquisitions and how you can survive if you get caught up in one.
In her book “Now What – A survivor’s guide for thriving through mergers and acquisitions” she talks about the fact that M&A happen, you can be going along nicely in your career and then you get hit with the change and upheaval that M&A provides. So, what will you do?
They also discuss the 5 stages of grief that people go through from denial to acceptance and the stages in between, and the post-M&A characters you will come across.
Everyone wants to create a good image at work, but your efforts can come across as disingenuous if you’re not careful. It can be difficult to promote yourself more without looking like a suck up.
Jennifer was the featured expert in this piece, noting that “Your goal is to exhibit what you are capable of, the contributions and value add that you bring.”