Chris Hawkins: Career Mobility, Merger and Integration Process

Introduction: Chris Hawkins
  • Director Corp Dev at SunEdison
  • Integration of acquired companies in NA
  • Setting up global shared services center.


 You’ve worked as a consultant at one of the large global consulting firms and ‘in-house’ on M&A with a very fast moving corporate player. Can you compare the two environments?
  • 8 – 9 years on PwC on audit side.
  • Exposure into non-account work and he saw that he couldn’t ‘speak the language’ of other parts of the business.
  • Now is able to swim the whole pool.

Consulting vs. in-house?
  • Mind set is very different. Serving in a client service role objectives are a little different. At the end of the day in house you’ll still be here. As a consultant, that might not be the case. Your companies name is attached to it, not your own.
  • There’s a higher level of accountability building the house that you have to live in.
  • Drive of the people in consulting is different. In corporate, you’ll see different motivations, not necessarily on the same page.
Contrast the differences.
  • Leading by influence. Getting everyone on the same piece of music. Easier at a consultant. 
 For the last several years, you’ve been focused on M&A activities. Can you give us some context of the work you’ve done…
  • Merger and integration.
  • Buys two types of companies – those with people, those without.
    • FirstWind Deal – entire company – 250 people
    • Projects
  • Split between finding deals and integrating them.
  • Buying a company isn’t easy. Making it work is also difficult. Can’t just throw it over the wall and expect them to coexist.
 As you’re looking at a possible acquisition, when do you typically get involved?
  • doesn’t work very well to bring in an integration team too close to the deal being done.
  • Should all tie into the valuation model. Need someone who can see the synergies and help with valuation.
  • When you bring everyone into the game early and get buy in on a road map for integrating the two entities – cost savings, new business, etc.
 For those of us on the outside looking in, give us a sense of the work that’s gone into an acquisition before any news becomes public?

Typical life-cycle:

  • NDA
  • Diligence & preliminary term sheet
  • Sign a PSA, purchase and sale agreement
  • Sign to close varies
 Once your team has settled in on the idea that a specific transaction will go through, what are you looking for within the firm to maximize the value of this acquisition?
  • You can either save $ or drive more $
  • Cost savings:
    • Business A isn’t going to do something anymore – may also cost rev.
    • Duplicative back office functions
    • Complementary supply chains
  • Revenue Side:
    • Cross-sell or up-sell to current customer lists
    • Partnerships
    • Technologies each company may have
    • Sometimes you’re betting on the future of a technology paying
 There’s likely a significant value factor – the business model, horizontal / vertical integration, specific book of business. I’d imagine in every transaction, there’s one big value driver. Is that right, or am I missing something?
  • Is there a theme associated with it.
  • FirstWind: Wanted to get into wind. Directionally, it was about getting into wind. Also sub-components. 
 The audience for this podcast are ambitious corporate professionals. What one piece of tactical – go implement today – advice do you have for this group?
  • Everything needs to drive some kind of value.
  • On a macro level that may take months
  • On a daily level – you need to know what you’re doing that will drive the highest value.
  • What is the highest and best use of your time.
 What’s your favorite business book?