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Navigating an Acquisition as a Chief People Officer

Acquisition and integration can be extremely tumultuous for People teams. In this playbook, L. David Kingsley (CPO, Alteryx) speaks to his experience navigating multiple acquisitions and how CPOs can best prepare for the process.

L. David Kingsley is a multi-time CPO and the current CPO at Alteryx, a 2000 employee analytics process automation company based in Southern California. Prior to Alteryx, David was CPO at Mulesoft, and then at Vlocity, both of which were acquired by Salesforce during his respective tenures.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is your background with acquisitions and general advice for a CPO going through their first acquisition?
  2. As a CPO, are there areas where it’s particularly important to raise your hand and speak your voice during the acquisition process?
  3. Regarding technical readiness, how can a CPO prepare and what common mistakes have you made?
  4. What are best practices for building a shared culture between the two orgs?
  5. How do you manage expectations of current employees?
  6. How do you respond to “are we being acquired,” or “are we up for acquisition?
  7. How do you retain employees through the acquisition?
  8. How can a CPO gracefully leave if their role is made redundant?
  9. What other resources do you recommend?

Excerpt: Navigating an Acquisition as a Chief People Officer

4. What are best practices for building a shared culture between the two orgs?

Ask for stories about the founding and creation of the other company and develop an appreciation for their history. Stories are the threads that weave that culture throughout the organization. Start helping to retell their stories to give the acquired company the sense that it’s valued and heard. Before any 1-1, ask the person to tell a story they love about how their organization was founded or how your culture was formed.

Do a cross-walk of the two sets of company values. Put them next to each other on a page and look at where there may be a 1-1, or how they translate. Alternatively, where can you learn cultural elements from the other company.

Develop a shared narrative going forward, co-created with the other company’s People team. This is to speak to the employees at both companies, as well as to candidates and customers.

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