Whenever M&As happen everyone always speculates on the manpower outcomes. Who will stay and who will go. Often a smaller acquired company is left to be a wholly owned subsidiary with its management intact until something goes wrong or changes dramatically. That's what happened to a company where my client is interviewing for the CEO role. It was geographically distant from the parent company. Further, it was bought for both the technology and the talent who could deliver it.
It's a small unique engineering company located in central California. The founder sold it to a well-known company in Kansas and stayed for 4 years to ensure a successful transition. Now the search is on for a new CEO.
Here are the search challenges:
There are moments when retained search firms earn every dollar they charge. This was one of them. Several candidates were put forward and rejected prior to my client. My client and I prepped for the in-person interview with the search firm.
Here are the interview issues we addressed:
The interview is not about the product and service of the company. It is not about how skilled and experienced the potential candidate may be. It is about corporate culture, values, and emotional intelligence. All soft stuff, very hard to probe within the context of an interview. Better to spend time the company and candidate together to get to know each other over lunch, dinner, group meetings and on-site trips.
It is a career derailer to take a position that is not the best fit for you at this level. Nor should a company hire at this juncture a CEO that doesn't have a 90% chance of success. It is a crucial transition in the acquisition process when the old management steps aside. The entire success of the company can hang in the balance: wittness the fiasco of the MacDonalds - Boston Market acquistion.
Finding and hiring the best talent is always a challenge but a Merger & Acquisition situation makes it especially a deal-breaker.
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