More than an Asset: The People Side of Mergers & Acquisitions


Jason Button is a director at Cisco and leads the corporate’s Security and Trust Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) group. He was previously the director of IT at Duo Security, an organization Cisco acquired in 2018, making him uniquely positioned to lend his experience to the M&A course of. This weblog is the continuation of a collection centered on M&A cybersecurity listed on the finish of this publish. 

With the latest wave of Cisco acquisition bulletins — ten this 12 months alone — I’m usually requested about my expertise first-hand, having been a part of the Duo Security acquisition in 2018. What I’ve discovered throughout that point has definitely helped to tell our M&A cybersecurity technique, together with the significance of taking a people-centric method to integrating new corporations into Cisco.

People: The Critical Asset in Mergers & Acquisitions

While my group’s main position is managing danger within the M&A course of, it’s not nearly cybersecurity — it’s concerning the flight danger of individuals. One of an important points of buying and integrating corporations into Cisco is setting clear expectations so everybody understands their position and the sources accessible to assist them.

Transparently speaking all through the M&A course of helps to construct belief, easy the transition, and cut back the chance of individuals leaving as a result of they don’t really feel valued or heard. The extra you are able to do upfront to assist put together, accomplice, and assist groups coming into your organization will assist cut back workforce attrition considerably.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

As Peter Drucker was as soon as famously quoted, “No matter how great your business strategy is, your plan will fail without a company culture that encourages people to implement it.” Cisco doesn’t simply purchase corporations for his or her mental property and know-how; it invests in human capital and the chance to complement firm tradition. The Duo acquisition performed a pivotal position in serving to to remodel each Cisco’s tradition and safety technique.

While Duo was well-known for its agile method to safety innovation, it was additionally very revered for its office variety and inclusive tradition. Cisco management quickly acknowledged Duo’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ethos and commenced adopting practices, prioritizing numerous hiring and promotions, and implementing applications that proceed to infuse Cisco’s tradition right now. When Duo was acquired in 2018, Cisco ranked #48 on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work listing. In 2019 the corporate rocketed to #6 and has been named #1 for the final three years in a row. While not 100% attributed to the Duo acquisition, it underscores tradition’s significance within the M&A course of.

The Duo acquisition additionally influenced Cisco’s transformational journey to develop into a number one world safety firm. Duo Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) know-how continues to be a necessary asset in Cisco’s Zero Trust safety technique and portfolio, serving to to safeguard its personal enterprise and our clients worldwide.

Relationships Build Trust

Before Cisco acquired Duo, we had been happy with our start-up tradition and felt energized by the David vs. Goliath dynamic when competing for enterprise. Whether you’re a start-up or a longtime model within the trade, being acquired could be equally thrilling and scary. While many workers could also be energized concerning the potential monetary upside of the transaction and the chance to work at Cisco, others might really feel a way of loss. The truth of the matter is what usually attracts somebody to be a part of a startup is probably not fulfilled when working for a big world enterprise.

I impress upon our group the significance of main empathetically and adopting a mindset of evolution versus revolution as people are being built-in into Cisco’s tradition and company surroundings. People have to really feel like they will belief each you and the method. Policies and integration frameworks are vital however constructing open and trusted relations is crucial to general success and productiveness after an acquisition.

Effective Strategies to Retain Talent

While each acquisition has its personal distinctive traits, there are some key tenets that my group tries to use to make sure a easy transition, retain expertise, and keep respect:

  • Prepare and assist incoming groups to allow them to shortly combine into the enterprise and be productive
  • Recognize and regard the worth of a person’s institutional data that goes past the mental property being acquired
  • Invest in position mapping, so incoming workers have a transparent understanding of the place they slot in a corporation and their alternatives for skilled development
  • Ensure workers whose roles could also be eradicated are respectfully handled and absolutely supported by outplacement providers

In my subsequent weblog publish, I’ll revisit the subject of Moving Left to Right: Cybersecurity Practices and Outcomes in M&A Due Diligence, and what now we have discovered since this report was revealed final 12 months with the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity.

Mergers and Acquisitions Cyber Risk Management

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Related Blogs

Managing Cybersecurity Risk in M&A

Demonstrating Trust and Transparency in Mergers and Acquisitions

When It Comes to M&A, Security Is a Journey

Making Merger and Acquisition Cybersecurity More Manageable

Ensuring Security in M&A: An Evolution, Not Revolution

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