Acquisitions come in all shapes and sizes. They can help businesses achieve their strategic goals more quickly, bring new products, services and innovations and introduce fresh thinking at all levels of an organisation.

This was the case with OpenText’s acquisition of the Enterprise Content Division of Dell EMC, which was finalised in early 2017. The acquisition saw 5,000 customers, 2,000 employees and over 300 partners join OpenText. As you can imagine, integrating this number of stakeholders required seamless employee, customer and partner communication, employee training, and most importantly, strong leadership at both the global and local level.

As part of the acquisition I was fortunate to take up the role of Vice President Sales, Asia–Pacific at OpenText. Having worked with Dell EMC at various locations for more than 10 years, I was thrilled to move to Asia–Pacific. With China, Japan and India’s economies placing second, third, and seventh in the world respectively, it was an opportune time to lead OpenText in the region.

Of course, taking on such a role is not without its obstacles. Having come from the company that had been acquired (rather than the other way around), I faced a unique challenge, especially given the scale and geographic reach of my new leadership role.

First, I had to win the trust of my OpenText peers and employees, which I knew I could only achieve by being extremely hands-on in my approach. I had to bring together two previously disparate teams who had often competed for the same customers before the acquisition. I also needed to give our teams the best tools possible to facilitate true integration, without having any disruption or downtime for our customers.

Integrating disparate teams

Working closely with each country head, we integrated the two sales teams and set about creating a cohesive culture in each market. By clearly defining goals, ownership, and responsibilities, and encouraging teams to share their best practice, we have been able to increase the size of our footprint and offer customers a more integrated and productive way to work with OpenText.

We’re now uniquely positioned to win new clients across different industry sectors, and have created a much stronger and unified proposition for our customers across our entire enterprise information management platform.

Cultural intelligence

To best understand the nuances of each market we operate in, I also pledged to spend time on the ground in each country, visiting our teams and customers across Asia–Pacific at least once a quarter. This strategy has proved highly successful and key to our growth trajectory.

Being aware, respectful and well-informed about the countries we operate in has been critical to our success so far. Every day, I digest each country’s news and ensure I am fully abreast of any economic, political, social or technological changes that may impact our customers within any one of these dynamic markets.

Always learning

To have continuing success you need to question the status quo and admit you’re unlikely to know the answer to everything, at least straightaway. My advice to any business leader is to continually learn from those around you, ask questions and not always accept the first thing you are told. In visiting our teams in each country, I’m able to really understand their challenges, and what is working best for our customers there.

Having an inclusive and collaborative approach has helped inform how we operate and enables us to deliver the best solutions for our customers. It also helps when we go after new industry sectors, as we know that we have the right touchpoints in place to assist our customers at every stage of their information journey.