Justyna Kubicka-Daab: In what kind of change process(es) have you been involved?
Hanne Dannulat: My experience with mergers and acquisitions is quite rich – I personally experienced four of them, always as a management team member of the acquiring company.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Which one was more challenging for you / you company?
Hanne Dannulat: As the most challenging, I recall the 2001/2002 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, mainly due to the fact that between the first announcement and physical integration there was a one-year gap, during which we could observe the majority of mergers’ shortfalls. During this critical year, we lost quite a number of valuable people, in the same time facing a hiring freeze. I remember the atmosphere of paralysis and frustration.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What kind of role did you have during the process?
Hanne Dannulat: I was Commercial Director of Glaxo Welcome for Denmark, managing 90 people. It was the merger of equals worldwide, but in case of Denmark, the SmithKlineBecham commercial forces were more modest – app. 30-40 people. I was a member of the integration committee comprising of 5-6 top managers, including Commercial, Medical, and Financial Directors from both companies.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What were your responsibilities?
Hanne Dannulat: I was responsible for development – in coordination with other team members – of the new structure of the future organisation, new processes and synergy targets to be set and achieved. Right from day one of the actual merger, we made the structure transparent and we were honest about that redundancies could not be avoided. However, we were able to create some new jobs in the combined structure in sales and marketing, and we added new positions in HR and IT due to the size of the new company. We encouraged people to apply for the new positions even though it meant that they would get new responsibilities but also new challenges and competences.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What would you say was the most challenging part through that change?
Hanne Dannulat: The most difficult was this first year with almost no real activity but a lot of speculation, gossip and ncertainty. To maintain the morale of the staff was challenging indeed.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What did surprise you most?
Hanne Dannulat: The biggest, and unfortunately, very negative, surprise, was the attitude of certain employees, usually those who felt uncertain because of their previous performance. As an experienced manager, I could and did expect this to happen, but still the level of disloyalty, negative emotions and destructive activities did surprise me.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Retaining talent could be one of the most important missions during such a change process – what did you/your company do, to retain the talent?
Hanne Dannulat: When publishing the new organogram, we encouraged everyone to feel free and apply for the positions they thought would be interesting as a next career step. At the same time, everyone was told to continue business as usual at their current positions. All this was well perceived by the employees. We obviously observed some disturbances, but as employees knew there was new openings and they would be considered in the recruitment process – those highly motivated remained highly motivated and performed well. My role at this stage was also to conduct all the “recruitment” interviews, which also served as a very good communication and “ventilation” measure. As for the employees of the SmithKLineBecham, we had access to their performance track records and reviews which was helpful during decision making process. Overall, we made approximately 10-15 people redundant.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: With your experience today and looking back at the change process then, would you do anything different?
Hanne Dannulat: I think I should have paid much more attention to the early signs of discouragement and frustration of the low performers. As an integration team member with positive and pro-synergic attitude I was focusing on new structure and securing talent on key positions, maybe not appreciating enough the fact that not all were equally enthusiastic. Today I will probably try to surround myself by “scouts” who will be tuned up to allow me to deal with any disturbing and worrisome signs, I am sure I was the last person to hear of problems arising and therefore the magnitude was bigger compared to if I had dealt with it earlier.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Is there anything you took away from the changing process?
Hanne Dannulat: Going back to this experience of one-year gap between the communication and the actual merger, I am sure that speed is of crucial importance. The basic principle should be to follow up the announcement by the immediate action plan, or not announce anything. The other must, once the news are announced - is the ongoing and constant communication process– there is always some information to put forward or you can just say “nothing new we are on track”. The realistic, true, consistent and timely communication is the best cure for uncertainty and fear. Even if we are not ready on time with some decisions, it is always better to communicate and shift the deadline; anything else creates frustration and speculation. The third lesson I will always remember is to take care of the best talent at the earliest stage possible. They should be treated with special care, by which I mean not only direct and comforting talks but also well-defined retention plans. What is also extremely important is “business as usual” during the merger process. The burden should be on the management team and line managers should not be constantly distracted from their normal duties, which ensures the continuity of the business, which was probably an important part of the reason for the merger in the first place.
SpenglerFox are pleased to announce a strategic alliance with Cowley Brown Recruitment which will see both companies look to grow and expand their retained executive search business in Ireland. Cowley Brown is based in Dublin with a mix of retained and contingency search business mainly in the Irish healthcare sector and as a consequence, also in the UK and Middle East. SpenglerFox is a leading retained global Search & HR services firm, with Irish heritage, across multiple territories serving both the mature and emerging markets. This new alliance will target the retained executive search business in the Irish market with an initial focus on C-suite roles in Life Sciences and related sectors, but will also create an opportunity for Cowley Brown to engage with SpenglerFox jointly on assignments in other countries around the globe. Through this strategic alliance both companies will bring considerable added value to their respective domestic and international clients, Cowley Brown having successfully built up a considerable local footprint in Ireland and SpenglerFox having a strong international brand as a retained executive search expert, with a wide international reach for sourcing the best talent for their clients. Jens Friedrich, CEO of SpenglerFox, added ‘’Following our Management Buy Out in 2017 we have been focussing on increasing our specialised expert industry knowledge as well as expanding our geographical reach and Ireland has been a priority market on our radar. We are delighted to form this new alliance with Ken and his Team at Cowley Brown. Such an alliance will give SpenglerFox the executive search exposure in the ever improving Irish market, while also continuing to strengthen our Life Sciences practice and serving our international clients who are expanding into the Irish economy.‘’ Ken Cowley, Director of Cowley Brown, is very excited about this new alliance for his firm, and says; ‘’We feel this was the perfect time for us to strike this arrangement with the team at SpenglerFox due to the continuing growth in the Irish economy and our own growth over the last 12-18 months. We have seen an ever increasing demand from our clients for assistance in helping to fill key C-Suite roles, so we are very much looking forward to the prospect of tapping in to the resourcing strength, market-specific expertise, and the global reach that our new business colleagues at SpenglerFox will provide. Also, we feel that the values of our two organisations are highly aligned, with a massive level of enthusiasm for finding top talent and for putting our clients at the centre of everything we do.’’ Both companies feel that there continues to be significant opportunities in the Irish market, as both FDI and indigenous Irish companies continue to expand. The combined set of strengths of both teams, as well as the level and quality of existing contacts and candidate-reach, means that ambitious targets are being set by the new strategic alliance, and both companies are very much looking forward to an exciting future, collaborating on multiple assignments together, both in Ireland and internationally in the best interest of our respective clients.
The Budapest Business Journal – Book of Lists 2018/2019 is an industry guide unique to Hungary and provides company data of 2,500 of the largest companies in more than 70 fields. We are pleased to share that SpenglerFox ranked 3rd amongst Executive Search firms in Hungary. I am delighted once again by this recognition of our services to the Hungarian market. Since our Budapest office first opened in 2005 we have been continuously identifying the very best senior executive talent for our clients businesses. As we now enter the second year of our MBO in 2017 our team in Budapest is continuing to grow and our Research team strengthened to further support our client and candidates as they evolve. Jens Friedrich, CEO
Delighted to gather our entire company in Frankfurt one year post our MBO for two packed days of relationship building, learning and fun. Since our MBO in July 2017 this was the first All Staff event, there was an incredible atmosphere and energy, we certainly needed the energy to help us through the networking, workshops and of course the party! No event is ever complete without an award ceremony, so we presented our staff with more than 10 years tenure travel vouchers, we’re really proud that 50% of our Foxes have been with SpenglerFox between 5 and 14 years! Damien Stork, Chris Beedle and Dan Godsall from Chamonix Hard Cross joined us on day two to take us through their Personal Eco System program. Showing and reminding us why our environment, sleep, exercise and nutrition can help our mental performance, and find more time for that work/life balance. It was great to get the family together once again, so many friendships strengthened, already looking forward to the next. Jens Friedrich, CEO.