Making Mergers Work with Amy Barzdukas

December 12, 2019

By Marni Gordon, SVP of committees and conferences, ANA

ANA

Ahead of her session at the 2020 ANA Brand Masters Conference, Presented by Twitter, Amy Barzdukas, EVP and CMO at Poly, sat down with Marni Gordon to give some insight into driving results following a merger.

 

Q. How were you able to effectively drive corporate culture change when merging two separate organizations?

We started with two companies of roughly the same size, so at first it was a matter of balancing who would be leading the dance. One of the most critical steps we took was to engage longtime employees on both sides early in the process. Once we had their buy-in and participation in what we were trying to achieve, they were able to help us evangelize the benefits of being Poly — the many, coming together as one company with a united vision for the future. The respect these veterans commanded brought a sense of mission (and even calming) to what can often be a stressful time.

 

Q. What would you say your biggest accomplishment was after completing the merger?

We made a huge splash when we debuted Poly. People externally described it as a rebirth, or a shedding of old skin in favor of bringing new life to the new combined company. We were also recognized for being respectful of the heritages of both Plantronics and Polycom.

Internally, I’d say it was some of the little things I noticed. It’s one thing to tell employees we’re now one big family, but it’s something else entirely for them to believe it and to see it in action. Everyone came together with combined corporate legacies to begin to forge something new that included the backgrounds of both. One moment that stands out to me was when Poly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Plantronics had developed the headset through which Neil Armstrong made his “one small step” comment, but I also saw a real sense of shared pride coming from Poly employees who originated on the Polycom side. That told me that our new joined family was forging its own new identity.

 

Q. How about your greatest challenge during the merger process?

I’d say we had three, which involved different stakeholders. For the general market we figured out how to build a stand-out narrative in a crowded space. For our customers and partners, we found a way to carry through the legacies and histories of the companies to the new brand. And for our employees, we had to make them believe in the new brand and the new combined mission. These different challenges took different approaches to confront, but in the end, we brought everyone to the same conclusion that Poly was moving forward, unified and stronger.

 

Q. How have you organized internally to drive success as one company?

One of the challenges we had to overcome was this notion of being two companies. It was critical to create a centralized marketing function and reunite under Poly rather than our legacy brands. We created a best-in-class marketing operations and processes to drive the new business. But we also had to shed any vestigial “how we used to do it” ways of thinking so we could take the best aspects of both companies and move forward. We’ve also established a team that is specifically dedicated to the care and feeding of our brand. They’ve tackled everything from the obvious, such as a new look and logos for our website, to the unexpected, such as finding trucks in south America that needed to be rebranded. It has been an interesting and challenging — but ultimately rewarding — hunt that resulted in all of us coming together under the new Poly banner.


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