Surviving a Merger or an Acquisition

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An M&A can send a career into a tailspin or on an upward flight pattern. It’s all in how you navigate the shifting winds, says Tim White, managing partner in the private wealth practice at Kaye/Bassman International, an executive recruiting and search firm.

In an interview with eFinancialCareers, White says the world of investment banking has certainly had its share of consolidation, and so it’s essential to quickly determine who your new superior will be or who you’ll be supervising post-M&A.

If you’re the new sheriff in town, or if you’re the person with a new manager, everyone needs to be on the same page—knowing that the clients’ best interest is at the heart of everything. “At the end of the day, there has to be clarity in communication, as well as a management of expectations,” says White. A proactive approach is the key. Don’t wait for someone to come to you. Make your approach and skills clear, and make sure it’s obvious you are a team player.

Change is inevitable post-M&A, says Stefanie Smith, president of Stratex Consulting, an executive consulting and coaching firm. Operations and systems may change, or the firm’s focus may alter. There’s also the possibility that each person may be faced with doing additional work or changes in the actual work, and these are all things that professionals need to acknowledge. If you want to survive the merger, she tells eFinancialCareers, make it clear to your superiors what you and your team bring to the table, identifying the hard numbers and the strategic value.

Do your homework on the people making the decisions, and find out their top priorities and make those priorities yours. “Don’t have a deer in the headlights reaction after a merger, and don’t go in the other direction and write your new boss a four-page e-mail,” she adds. Plus, says Smith, make sure your numbers don’t fall off in the midst of the confusion and fear.

Of course, there are inevitable fears of losing one’s job, when operations are combined and redundant positions identified. Keep the resume and your networks current, says Smith. If you think your role will be duplicated post-M&A, think of a new role that you might be able to take on to make the integration more profitable. “You always want to provide your employer with options—an offshoot job,” says Smith. “Maybe you can do a particular operational project that needs leadership, and that project might span a year and give you time to prove your worth.”

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