Background and Challenge

WLH was asked to lead and manage the post-close integration for one of the largest global animal health companies following two significant business acquisitions. Specific challenges included the retention of key talent across the organization and maintaining business continuity during the integration. The goal was to develop and execute plans to leverage synergies, optimize the portfolio, and develop the corresponding change management strategy. Special emphasis was placed on creating a new culture to integrate the best aspects of both organizations. This required defining the cultural tenets to foster greater personal accountability for performance results and enhance cross-functional collaboration across the merged field force and support functions.

Approach and Deliverables

For both integration projects, WLH led and partnered with internal integration teams to engage in a comprehensive change management effort. This endeavor included clarifying strategic objectives, developing a detailed project plan (with multiple work streams), and ensuring coordination and alignment throughout the organization. The various work streams included human capital strategy, account transitions, and stakeholder communications. WLH provided overall project management to monitor milestones, address potential risks and interdependencies, and enable integration activities. WLH also provided dedicated assistance to Sales, Field Force Effectiveness, Veterinary Operations, Human Resources (HR), and Learning and Development (L&D).

To create a unified organizational culture for the merged company, WLH first worked with executive leadership to define core beliefs and values. Then, through a deliberate cascade that started with business unit leaders and their teams, organizational values and priorities were clearly defined. The cascade included an overall field execution readiness strategy which included team jump start meetings where the focus was on addressing customer-facing challenges, business opportunities, and 100-day planning.

In addition, WLH successfully provided the following:

  • Designed and facilitated a 3-day experiential conference for over 150 of the company’s senior leaders
  • Designed and facilitated workshops for leadership teams in each of the company’s business units to assist them with integration and alignment of the new culture
  • Developed an on-boarding process that addressed important human capital needs for the combined organization in collaboration with the HR function and first line leader input
  • Designed and developed a new consulting skills sales model and workshop
  • Evaluated organizational health during the integration and developed data feedback and action planning processes to support cultural integration
  • Implemented a human capital strategy including role profiles, recruiting, training, and talent management plans

Results

With WLH’s support, the client successfully integrated the two companies and translated leadership’s vision for the new organizational culture. A road map for the transformation was developed and implemented to ensure individual accountability and business continuity. The investment in team meetings created significantly higher levels of collaboration among field sales, marketing, and veterinary operations in support of the new culture and business goals. Retaining key talent was a critical concern for the client. WLH was successful in helping the client retain all key talent during the transition while eliminating duplicative responsibilities. Sales growth rates for the company during and immediately following the integration were better than all competitors in the industry. WLH’s success with these critical efforts led to many additional projects to further business improvement, human capital strategy, and business planning within the company.


Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.
Author:
Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 25 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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