As COVID-19 descended, our team was executing one of the largest acquisitions of our company’s history – Arkema’s PMMA business – as a pivotal element of our transformation journey to become an advanced specialty solutions provider. This high-stakes acquisition and integration was facilitated almost entirely virtually and on an accelerated timeline, presenting unique challenges and opportunities for innovative problem solving.
As the co-leaders of our Integration Management Office, we attribute our success to our employees, who relied on the behavioral attributes that are foundational to our culture, including Proactivity, Agility, Accountability, Collaboration, and Engagement – referred to collectively as “PA2CE.” Here’s a closer look at the attributes that we believe made our acquisition a success:
Proactive communication was key, particularly with a high level of transparency. This allowed our employees to understand the full scope of the acquisition, our expectations, and the importance of the endeavor. It also alleviated misinterpretation, so our efforts remained on course.
Team leaders executing our integration process were nimble in balancing their duties against new integration responsibilities. Furthermore, our employees quickly and competently adapted to executing this process from a virtual setting amid COVID-19. We also capitalized on our global network of employees to maintain a continuous stream of work that allowed us to complete tasks quickly and efficiently while meeting accelerated deadlines.
Acquisition team leads were responsible for developing and executing plans to drive the integration process forward – including everything from integrating our manufacturing sites, EH&S procedures, and IT infrastructure to designing onboarding plans for our new colleagues – and their accountability was unmatched. Through well-defined project plans and clear milestones, we were able to structure an acquisition and integration process that fostered ubiquitous accountability.
Multiple cross-functional teams, including IT, HR, finance, the product teams, and beyond, came together to make this integration run smoothly, spurring productive collaboration across the company. Our collaboration extended to leadership of Arkema’s PMMA business, where we opened frequent lines of communication to maintain alignment. Recognizing the valuable diversity and opinions our new colleagues brought to our organization, we solicited their feedback via a survey, interviews, and focus groups to better understand their culture. It was a true team effort to bring this new entity into our company and become one.
We fostered strong engagement by starting at the top, with our ELT, and let their example trickle down, resulting in a deeply engaged team that approached all things with a “can do” attitude. Our team successfully tackled numerous challenges – something that may not have been possible without an engaged workforce. In fact, we received high marks from our new PMMA counterparts on engagement and frequency of communication from our ELT – a testament to these efforts.
We had many learnings, including the importance of frequent and transparent communication, the need for commitment across the organization, and the value of leaning into your core competencies to guide success. For those embarking on new M&A projects, we encourage you to consider these insights and how they may translate to your efforts and culture.