Ed Gardner, EVP of Corporate Development and Ken Wood, EVP of Product Management, share their lived experiences and professional insights on how growth through acquisition benefits current employees on both sides of the deal – and future team members.
At Descartes, our customers are at the heart of everything we do. As a result, the acquisitions we choose are driven by a desire to meet customer needs for additional tools and services. The market trend in logistics and supply chain management is for a one-stop shop – an organization or platform that can help all supply chain participants connect and collaborate to manage the full lifecycle of shipments. That’s our goal. To achieve this, we can build solutions, or we can buy them by way of acquisition. We think a combination of both puts us in the best position to help our customers.
The motivation to merge and acquire
We’re technologically very diverse with all kinds of platforms and skill sets. We have a far-reach scope between the geographies we serve, the solutions we offer, and the types of customers we have (which include shippers, logistics services providers, carriers, and agents). We serve a multitude of different interests in global logistics, and that flexibility, along with our high standards, allows us to continuously grow and expand our market share. To do so effectively, we weigh the cost of investing in brand-new solution builds versus acquiring market-ready, scalable solutions that already exist.
When seeking out a new acquisition, we’re driven by a desire to add to our solution offerings, solve a specific problem for our customers, and add passionate people who put the customers first to our roster. We want technology that fits a niche, and we absolutely want to retain the people there. We want the domain experts who innovated, optimized, and supported these solutions as well as the people who have built the relationships and user expertise, to stick around.
Change management is critical to success, but so are transparency and authenticity
Change can be scary, or it can be exhilarating. It all comes down to the motivation and the messaging. We have a lot of experience integrating companies into the Descartes family. The key success factor is our tried and tested integration methodology balanced with the knowledge that every opportunity is unique, and we adjust accordingly. We recognize we don’t know everything, and we work closely with a cross-company integration team to set everyone up for success. We work with the company’s managers to come up with the best way to onboard and integrate teams, and we look to our employees to help us do that, many of whom are from acquired companies themselves.
Acquisition and integration are part of our culture. One of the greatest benefits to Descartes as an organization is that as a result of an acquisition, we are gaining more experts in our field. People with an enormous amount of creativity, drive, and potential can hone their professional development and carve an incredibly satisfying career path here. We ensure new companies understand we have a proven successful history of embracing and growing all of our people. Our current CEO, Chief Commercial Officer, Head of Product Management, Head of Customer Support, Head of R&D and Information Technology, and the majority of our solution pillar leaders are all employees that originally joined through an acquisition. Those are just the most prominent figures, but there are many more.
There is an equal opportunity here for everyone. At Descartes, everyone has a voice and the best ideas can come from anyone. We are a global company, diverse by nature and by purpose. And, quite honestly, we are a really nice group of people who have fun together when we can.
We recognize that we can present a well-structured strategy and say a lot of wonderful things, but our actions after an acquisition and the way we treat each other – that speaks volumes.
Acquisition creates opportunities
Another dimension is the professional opportunity to be part of a scaling global company; to work with and learn from people in many different parts of the world. It’s interesting, and a unique aspect is a chance to work in different geographies. We’re predominantly a remote company, and we don’t require anyone to relocate, but the depth and breadth the organization has is pretty cool.
Ultimately, whether you are hired directly into Descartes or join us as the result of an acquisition, you are going to be part of an ongoing industry evolution. If you are passionate about logistics and supply chain management, with the desire to learn, dig in, and help solve complex problems to further drive innovation with cross-functional solutions – the opportunities here are going to be incredibly rewarding.