No sooner had we put the finishing touches
to our cover story about increased merger and acquisition activity (page 18) than two huge deals emerged. First, in the food
sector, Kraft – which has also announced
a $300 million savings plan and large-scale cuts to its supplier base – proposed a takeover of Cadbury. This was followed swiftly with mobile telecoms giants T-Mobile and Orange planning to become one. The pair of large-scale marriages has quickly been identified as a trend. And commentators are predicting a rush for post-recession takeovers as keenly priced corporations become more attractive to competitors.
Naturally, cost savings are a fundamental part of each merger. In one way, this is good news for senior buyers because their skills are central to delivering those savings. But just as removing duplication is one of the ways these savings are achieved, for every acquisition there will be redundancies and some of these will inevitably be at senior levels.
Yet even this may not be all bad. Some severance packages are generous and a CPO within a few years of retirement may prefer a spot of consultancy to getting to grips with the desires, politics and idiosyncrasies of a(nother) new master.
Conversely, for others this can be a huge blow, draining the trajectory from a fast-track career. As one of our interviewees from our cover feature admits, it took four years to advance
past the point in his career at which he was made redundant following a merger.
This is harsh and he isn’t alone in this realisation.
A theme of the CPOs we spoke to in our redundancy feature on page 24 is how they spent time working on their network after they had lost their jobs. So even if you aren’t about to face the chop, now may be the time to make a couple of calls.
After all, it will be much easier to contact your recruitment consultant or head-hunter if you remain employed. And imagine how must stronger your negotiating position with a prospective new employer will be while you are still in a job. There are dangers in jumping ship, but none in merely having a few discreet conversations.
And on the career front, we carry the first of two articles looking at how senior buyers can make that final step up to the board or even to the CEO position. The author Sarah Lim, an executive search expert at Spencer Stuart, has provided excellent insight and posed some uncomfortable questions
(page 27). For anybody considering further professional development, it has some great pointers in an area that has rarely received much coverage.
Lastly, although CPO Agenda doesn’t have a letters page I welcome your feedback on all our articles. And I am always keen to hear CPOs’ experiences of the topics covered. My email address is below, please do use it.