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November 21, 2022

Creating value through M&A takes work. There are so many steps to take during targeting, diligence, and integration in order to achieve a transaction’s intended synergies. So. how can teams increase a deal’s chances of success?  In this article, Hannah Elsakr, Vice President, Corporate Development, M&A Integration at Adobe, discusses executing successful end-to-end M&A. 

"If you want to be a successful practitioner, you have to understand the end-to-end process. You can't just be great at deal mechanics or negotiations." - Hannah Elsakr

Front-end Alignment

Start with the company’s strategy and understand the key areas the executives want to focus on and accelerate. Then spend time with the business unit leaders and get clarity around their needs and perspective on achieving the overall strategy. 

One of the best things to do is stress test the thesis of the business leaders. Hannah likes to push back and get clarity on the validity of their thesis before running spreadsheets and numbers.   Ask questions like;

  • Why is this acquisition significant to the business unit? 
  • What is on the business roadmap?
  • If this is important, what were the previous efforts in this space?

Achieving alignment on the strategy upfront will help the succeeding processes, such as identifying the data needed to validate the thesis during due diligence. Achieving early strategy alignment also helps to get approval from the CEO when the right time comes. 

Pillars of Success

According to Hannah, Adobe focuses on two things during acquisitions: products and people.

Because Adobe is a product company, they focus on IP. Everyone must understand the product they are acquiring and how it is complementary to Adobe’s current offerings. 

At Adobe, they also focus on the people coming in. Cultural fit is critical to deal success, and they want to ensure that the incoming leadership team will mesh inside the organization. One of the best things to do is to pick the right team internally to assess the culture early on in the process. 

Building a Team

Hannah aims to fill her team with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Diversity of thought is paramount to a corporate development team because it is their duty to dissent and challenge the business leaders.

She encourages her team to learn other areas of the organization to promote diversity of thought even further. They run learning sessions, trainings, and workshops inside Adobe to make education accessible to everyone willing to learn.

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