Embrace the change
November 22, 2021
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates
Those are wise words. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my professional career, it’s that change is inevitable; so, embrace it because it may open doors you never thought possible. It did for me.
I was an employee of predecessor companies to Mercury for more than seven years as a senior director of engineering. I had my nice little group of 15 engineers that I managed. It grew and shrunk over the years, but life was good. Then, bam, it happened. Change. I found myself going through not one, but two acquisitions during my tenure. I didn’t realize it then, but now I can say it was the best thing that ever happened to me, professionally.
Mergers and acquisitions can bring about feelings of trepidation for many employees when they hear their company is entertaining offers. And I can certainly relate to that. It’s a natural response. from my perspective, having gone through not one, but two acquisitions, the anxiety generally comes from being left in the dark, from not being part of the process, and fear of the unknown. The two acquisitions I experienced were night and day. The first acquisition went something like this, “Hey, we are buying you and we’ll figure out what to do with you later.” It made sense from a business perspective, but one important element was missing: the human element. We had very little interaction and we were definitely NOT part of the integration process.
The second acquisition was a completely different experience. Can you guess who the second acquiring company was? You guessed it—Mercury. From day one, Mercury’s approach was to include the employees as part of the team for integrated development. But that’s not all. During the integration period, the Mercury team had another surprise up their sleeve. They said, “Oh, and by the way, we also bought another company, and it’s going to be a great fit for everyone involved.”
Mercury has a keen ability to buy different companies that really complement each other and piece them together so it all works. So, when we say one plus one equals three, it’s true. Our M&A strategy works. The key is that for every acquisition, Mercury has a strategy, and the acquiring teams are part of the process. This absolutely was the case for me and remains true to this day.
Aside from the positive impact M&A has for Mercury in terms of business growth and opportunity to expand into different markets and attract new customers, it’s the personal growth opportunity that means a lot to me. Based on my experience, there is so much growth opportunity as an employee of a company acquired by Mercury because of the company’s innate ability to look across each group and determine how to best enable everyone.
I went from a position at a small company where I was a director, managing a handful of people to where I am today— global vice president of engineering for Mercury Systems responsible for more than 900 engineers. Sometimes I think, holy cow, how did that happen? Early on, I remember a conversation I had with our executive team about the great job we do as a company to pull together business systems after an M&A but acknowledging that we had never done the same for engineering. The COO asked if I would be up for the challenge of bringing together teams from across our locations to build an engineering “community.” So, of course, I said yes. We brought together 35 leaders for a workshop at our headquarters in Andover, MA. What we found was that very few people knew anyone else! We spent the first morning introducing ourselves and talking about what each of us did. We recognized the potential within the engineering team if we promoted commonality and enabled collaboration across our sites. We shared solutions and ideas and started to build our relationships to achieve more efficient and effective processes.
That first workshop morphed into a new full-time job. We developed engineering playbooks to drive common tools, processes, metrics, and approaches to engineering development. We developed an Engineering Leadership Program, which provides new college grads the foundational base to grow into leaders at Mercury. We started an annual Engineering Leadership Conference and Engineering Technical Conference as a place for our engineering leaders and technical experts to share innovative technology and best practices. And just as important, the conferences and other colaborative events helped us unify and strengthen the One Mercury engineering community so we can discover and develop the solutions our customers need.
I’m so proud of our teams; we work so very well together and are able to align our processes across functions, empowering us to focus on the aspects that make our company so special – innovating at the speed of Mercury.
Mercury’s growth strategy includes M&As. For anyone new to the Mercury family through an M&A or those who may be in the future, allow me to offer this piece of advice: embrace the change, recognize the opportunity, involve yourself in the change and help guide it so that it’s most successful. I promise you; you’ll find yourself on the most amazing trajectory for growth, both personally and professionally.
Are things going to change? Yes. And that’s a good thing! Mercury has the right strategies in place to bring people into our culture. When we acquire a company, it’s because we know the team has unique capabilities and by combining forces, we can build something special, resulting in complete solutions for our customers that deliver on our purpose—Innovation That Matters, By and For People Who Matter.