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Case Study: Strategic Leadership and Change Management for a Smooth Sale and Integration.

THE CLIENT: CEO and Founder of a national Digital Strategy Consulting Firm with five offices in North America.


THE CHALLENGE:

The CEO and founder of this 12 year old firm decided that the business was in a perfect situation to position for an exit strategy. He estimated it would take 18 months to find a company to acquire the company. He was deeply involved with the day-to-day operations of the business and customer management. Therefore, in order to position the business to sell, he and the leadership team felt they would be better served if they were to hire a Managing Director (MD), who could oversee all client services and prepare to merge into a larger organization. This would facilitate a number of opportunities to support the acquisition including:

  • Allowing the new MD to be integrated into the company and the client base before a sale;

  • Allowing the CEO to exit quickly after the sale, giving the buyer greater confidence in client retention;

  • Ensuring there would be no disruption of client services after the acquisition of the company;

  • Freeing the CEO’s time to allow him to research and meet with potential buyers.


THE APPROACH AND SOLUTION:

The CEO hired MICA to find an appropriate MD to transition the company through the acquisition and remain on-board as a department leader after the company was absorbed into the new organization. Such a professional would need a diverse set of strengths, so we started the project by outlining and agreeing upon the key profile requirements:

  • MD/President-level executive

  • Highly client-facing

  • Experience pitching and winning new digital strategy clients

  • Strong leadership capabilities

  • 10+ years in a leadership role for a digital consulting firm

  • Responsibilities managing multiple large teams across geographic regions, including digital strategy, e-commerce, UX/UI, account services and creative services

  • High degree of tolerance for risk and uncertainty (as there was no guarantee that the acquiring company would retain the MD once the sale was closed)

After outlining the needs for the search, MICA recommended a recruiting strategy that started with candidate mapping with a high priority on major markets including Boston, New York, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, Southern California and with a focus on large digital consulting firms. MICA researched and compiled a list of firms that had at least 150 employees in North America and then targeted the second most senior person at each company to create our target list.


Working with our client MICA then created a candidate pitch – that included the career opportunity to be the leader of the organization and facilitate the strategic plan of positioning the company for sale, as well as the financial incentive to earn a piece of ownership once the sale was successful. Due to the confidentiality required for the strategic plan, details of the opportunity and the plan itself were not shared with potential candidates until after an NDA was signed, MICA managed this part of the process as well.


RESULTS:

Within 6 weeks, MICA produced 4 viable candidates and helped our client through the interview process, as well as assisting in the compensation negotiation and the successful on-boarding of their new Managing Director.

She had recently been the second-in-command of another digital consulting firm that had recently gone through a successful acquisition, so she had the play book and was now ready to take the lead role in a similar situation. 12 months after joining our client as the MD, the company was successfully acquired and integrated. She remains the MD of the team she was running when originally hired and is on the leadership team of the new (much larger organization), which has multiple offices in all major global markets.

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