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March 14, 2022

How to Pivot to an M&A Integration Career

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Are you looking to pivot into an M&A integration career? Over the past decade, the importance of integration has become more prevalent. Practitioners have realized a well-planned integration is how value is achieved. However, the role and the skills needed for integration leaders remain the same. In this article, John Morada, COO at M&A Science, will be sharing how to begin an M&A integration career, and the essential skills needed for the role.

“The best possible person to become an integration leader comes from the business line because they already have the expanse of communication and network with other business lines.” - John Morada

Ideal Integration Lead

The primary role of an integration leader is to coordinate a transaction’s moving parts in order to achieve the acquisition’s value. According to John, the best people to pivot to an integration role are the people from the business unit who are passionate about change management, typically HR or Finance folks. People who are used to responsibilities and have good people skills will be ideal for this role. Here are the top attributes that make a qualified integration leader:

  1. Organized - This role typically has a variety of responsibilities across different workstreams so you need to be skilled at organization and prioritization.
  1. High Emotional intelligence - This is probably one of the most important skills to have in this role. When things don't go as planned, it is important to know how to listen to people and have empathy to understand where they are coming from. 
  1. Critical thinking - Understand how to look at problems, find the critical items that are causing the problem, and the ability to find solutions around those problems.
  1. Strong Communication - Instructing teams on how to approach post-close tasks and goals with other teams so clear and concise communication is vital.

The Best Advice for an Easier Transition

John recommends three things for a smoother transition when looking to land an M&A integration role:

  1. Be the best at what you do - Whatever your current role is, be the best at it. It establishes a baseline of trust in who you are and what you can deliver in terms of the value and expertise in your field. 
  1. Think bigger picture - Think bigger, beyond the task at hand and look at how the acquisition can create value for the company and the customers. 
  1. Think outside the box - Think outside your company and assess how the acquisition can position you in the overall market. Being able to advocate and communicate the investment rationale is crucial when you're dealing with the steering committee. 

Effective Integration Leader

In order to be an effective integration leader, it is important to have a solid relationship with the corporate development team and socialize the value of integration. John likes to get involved in the transaction as soon as an LOI is signed to prevent knowledge gaps between diligence and integration. He prefers to not become involved pre-LOI to ensure that things are going to move forward before dedicating his time to it. 

Inform the team about the company’s philosophy, and values, as well as integration’s responsibilities. The more they know, the more they can include those items when formulating a deal.

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