How Scientists Can Survive Change Management Post Merger or Acquisition

How Scientists Can Survive Change Management Post Merger or Acquisition

By Harvey Yau

In recent months, there have been many mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the life sciences industry, as well as in the chemical industry. Of course, M&As are a way of life in this sector, and the chances are high that at some point in his or her career, a scientist will face this kind of situation. 

After an M&A, a new company logically undergoes a period of change management. This can be a challenging time for a scientist if he or she isn’t adequately prepared. Here are some tips for surviving change management after an M&A:

  • Be ready to present your research to your new team and/or stakeholders. Collect all of your research in a report or presentation. While your new colleagues and any new stakeholders will likely be familiar with your work at a high level, they might not yet be fully informed of the details of the project you’re currently working on.
  • Be prepared for a new dynamic. If you have a new team and/or a new supervisor, the dynamic in the workplace will almost certainly be different from what you’re accustomed to. Be patient while everyone gets to know each other, and make sure to communicate clearly as to what is expected of you regarding responsibilities, deliverables and other important matters.
  • Find out if you’ll be working with different service providers or vendors. Ask your supervisor for instructions regarding any materials or equipment you need to purchase, and find out what the mechanism is for working with the suppliers to ensure the continuous flow of meeting deadlines or productions. 
  • Be ready to learn a new lab information system, data management system or other software. A new company often has different data systems. Depending on the system, it can be challenging to learn and slow you down considerably. Build sufficient time into your day to learn the new system as soon as possible.
  • Be prepared to stand up for your project’s needs. Oftentimes, labs are reduced to skeleton teams post-merger until the new company has every aspect of its strategy worked out. However, if you’re in the middle of a project, you can’t afford to lose too much of your budget or talent — or it could impact your ability to meet project milestones and objectives. That’s why you should be able to explain clearly why certain scientists with specific skills are needed on your team, as well as why your budget needs to be a certain minimum.

After a merger or acquisition, change management is inevitable. If you keep these pointers in mind, you stand a better chance of surviving it and consequently, safeguarding your future with the emerging new company. Remember that being a productive member of any new large-scale endeavor means being able to assess when and how change impacts your responsibilities. And by doing so, you not only help secure your essential involvement in the company, you also learn the important skill of adapting to change — something every career scientist is well advised to master.