3 keys to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s successful acquisition process

How Hewlett Packard Enterprise successfully manages acquisitions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has undergone a significant amount of organisational change and managed a number of acquisitions in recent times, according to its head of HR, who explained that taking a focused approach to leadership, communication and culture has been critical to successful change management within the business.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise experienced a period of rationalisation and large-scale change including multiple acquisitions globally, as part of an internal initiative which was launched mid 2017 to help the company be more competitive in the marketplace, said Robert James, field HR lead, South Pacific for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“The change journey required some key steps, we needed to stay disciplined and focus on the project timelines and ensure the case for change was clearly communicated as we progressed,” he explained.

“It was also key to equip our leaders with skills to lead through change, and ensure they were clear on transition support the company provides when the change led to staff impacts.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is a US-based multinational which was founded in 2015 as part of the splitting of the Hewlett-Packard company, and with around 66,000 employees globally, the company posted revenues of US$30.852 billion (A$42.909 billion) last year across its enterprise group and financial services divisions.

Managing culture through an acquisition
During this period, Hewlett Packard Enterprise also worked through the acquisition of a number of companies, including Nimble (a predictive flash storage technology business), SimpliVity (a converged technology management solution firm) and BlueData (an AI and big data software company).

In the process, James said it was important to ensure the focus was on people as a priority in integrating smaller, mostly privately-owned companies as part of the acquisitions.

“In one case the acquisition happened in a short time frame, and post-acquisition on initial assessment we had more salespeople than we may have needed,” he said.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has a “nurturing culture“, said James, and leaders worked accordingly through a clear plan, assessing skills for a three-month period to redeploy internally where possible as part of the acquisition process.

“We perform best when we can bring our full selves to work”

“As an outcome, we did find that in many cases more opportunities were created for our people as we looked to promote leaders into new teams to build on their skills sets and knowledge in the new areas of the business we acquired.”

In the period following an acquisition, James said it is important to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the positive cultural attributes both companies have through events such as all employee meetings and social functions to build morale.

Mini-onboarding workshops can also assist where required to build capability in the processes and systems of HR practices for new team members as they settle into the new organisation.

James explained that there have been higher engagement levels through periods of change for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and this has ensured sustained performance post-merger, with people seeing positive career outcomes as a result of M&As.

Leading people through acquisition change
The foundation for any change is detailed planning and involving the right people early in the process, explained James, who said Hewlett Packard Enterprise establishes a dedicated PMO to build the detailed timelines, stakeholders and communication plans to underpin this.

Leadership needs to authentically engage the wider business in the reason for change and to embrace, be consistent in messaging, listen, empathise and support.

“We also know that in order to retain top talent Hewlett Packard Enterprise needs to continue to foster an attractive company culture that offers employees opportunities to learn new skills, to make a difference in their communities and have time for their families,” he said.

To support this process, the company provides professional training courses, supports company-wide volunteer days (such as the Global Day of Service) as well as family-friendly policies, which James said are important pillars of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s people strategy.

“Recruiting a diverse mix of new talent into the organisation is vital to injecting fresh ideas and new perspectives into our company”

“We perform best when we can bring our full selves to work,” said James, who added that the company also supports “employee resource groups” (ERGs), which provide a place for employees to connect with others who have shared interests.

“Globally, we have 120 self-organised constituencies with more than 10,350 global members connecting on characteristics such as ability, age, gender, race, sexual orientation and cultural identity,” he said.

“ERGs partner with management and offer networking, mentorship opportunities while raising awareness, understanding and communication across our organisation.”

Talent planning and management
Within the Hewlett Packard Enterprise, James said it is important to bring together talented performers to help create breakthrough technology solutions which advance the way people live and work.

“Our most senior leaders agree that recruiting a diverse mix of new talent into the organisation is vital to injecting fresh ideas and new perspectives into our company,” he said.

The company’s graduate program also serves as an important source for building a future pipeline of diverse and innovative minds, while its succession and talent planning cycles help enable internal progression of diverse talent as well as identify where future gaps might be.

“Talent planning should be held quarterly, with the discussion led by leaders and facilitated by the HR partner,” he said.

“Leaders should come to the meeting ready to talk to the individual’s strengths, opportunities, development plan and career aspirations.

“We make sure we not only focus on high-potential, but also that all individuals have development action plans agreed with their leader,” said James, who added that it is important to have a robust discussion with people when benchmarking and agree on timing and development areas for succession to certain roles.”