What are the crucial elements in a successful acquisition strategy?

Ahead of Innovation Enterprise's Chief Strategy Officer Summit we spoke with Scott Blumsack, SVP – global head of strategy at Monster.com, about the recruitment giant's strategy, in particular its approach to acquisitions


The global value of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) has been predicted to reach $4.4 trillion globally in 2018, according to Statista, and in the US alone the value of M&A transactions reached $1.46 trillion last year.

Despite the huge number taking place and the vast quantities of resources being pumped into them, with so many different factors to consider, they are notoriously difficult to navigate. According to a Harvard Business Review report, the failure rate for M&As is between 70–90%.

Monster.com is a global online employment website operating in more than 30 companies. One of the largest global recruiters, on its site 7,900 jobs are searched and 29 resumes are uploaded every single minute. Despite its success, Monster.com has a long history of M&As, being formed itself following a 1999 merger and more recently being acquired by Randstad Holdings for $429m in 2016.

With its ability to effectively execute M&As in mind, we spoke with Scott Blumsack, SVP - global head of strategy at Monster.com, about how the recruitment giant handles its strategy and, in particular, its approach to M&A.

Innovation Enterprise: What are the pros and cons of hiring millennials?

Scott Blumsack: Despite the often-negative stereotypes you hear about millennials, they are hardworking, digitally savvy and constantly connected. Like the generation following them – Gen Z'ers – they bring a lot of value to potential employers. They respond well to managers who support their ambitions and empower them to reach their goals.

Because they value new devices, mobility and clear means of communication, they require a new style of management that includes direct communication that is visual and without frills or unnecessary details.

IE: Do you have any advice on hiring and retaining a millennial workforce?

SB: Stay true to your values. Millennials are drawn to companies with strong brand identities. Determine what makes your brand unique and relevant, and make sure that messaging comes through when communicating. Being transparent and authentic in all forms of communication will connect you to millennials (and Gen Z'ers for that matter) without seeming too promotional.

IE: Monster.com is no stranger to mergers; do you have any tips on how a leadership team can make acquisitions a smoother process?

SB: I think there are two elements that are critical here. The first is defining a clear set of value creation levers you want to pursue post acquisition (e.g., access new market, scale existing market, gain access to differentiated technology) and then conduct sufficient planning upfront to have confidence that those potential levers can be realized. By doing that from day one you have clear direction around what defines success for the merger, how you are going to get there, and how you communicate and rally employees from both companies around that goal.

The second element is around thoughtful implementation, especially culture. Most acquisitions are based on a solid strategic rationale, that's often the easy part, but I think a lot of companies underplay the importance of a strong cultural integration in their acquisition thinking. As a result, they may often force two cultures together too quickly, which inevitably causes friction. Companies are often better off taking a more measured, thoughtful approach for how (and how fast) to fuse cultures together to ensure the best, most complementary elements of each are maintained.

IE: What are some of your best tips for unlocking internal innovation in a legacy company?

SB: While Monster.com has been around for nearly 25 years, we have continued to evolve over that period. One of the things that drew me to this company is its willingness to take risks as it continues to evolve and transform. Monster.com invented the job search industry and now, with a new leadership team in place, we're uncovering new tools and strategies to reinvent the industry and address the challenges facing candidates and employers alike.

IE: What new technology is currently disrupting Monster.com's strategy?

SB: In addition to constantly improving its core solutions, Monster.com continually identifies and evaluates the latest innovative solutions available on the market including AI and machine learning.

Monster.com provides a seamless experience for its customers by integrating the best solutions into Monster.com's own platform. Through its commitment to delivering the best available solutions to its customers quickly, the company is positioned to introduce products in the near-term future that will change the way candidates and recruiters interact. From video tools that enable a more human interaction for recruiters and candidates to a text to apply feature that puts the job application process at a candidate's fingertips, Monster.com is aiming to shift from a world in which candidates and companies are two dimensional to one in which both sides can become better versions of themselves, know more about the other and make better matches.

Scott Blumsack, SVP – global head of strategy at Monster.com, is speaking at Innovation Enterprise's Chief Strategy Officer Summit in New York on December 6–7, 2018. Check out the full agenda and book tickets HERE.

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