View from the Boardroom: Stronger Together

First published on SIA on July 20,2021

The story of an unexpected union of two top IT staffing organizations

A typical acquisition is a complex, multilevel process. Generally speaking, the goal is to optimize processes and increase efficiency. Cultural considerations are harder to quantify, yet they exert significant influence on how the organization evolves as a combined entity.

In some cases, the traditional acquisition model is upended and the results are brimming with potential and dynamism when cultures are complementary.

As founders and CEOs of two organizations who recently completed an acquisition to form one of the nation’s top 10 IT staffing firms, we’ve seen the benefits of going a less-than-traditional route, and the ways in which company culture plays a leading role. Here’s what we have learned.

Be open to the possibilities. We met as co-panelists at an SIA event and bonded over our similarly sized organizations and the “employee-first” beliefs that underpin our cultures. Both of our companies grew organically in 2020 — an achievement amid the massive uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic — and neither of us was looking to conduct a transaction. But in becoming friends and having many conversations about the future of the industry and market trends, we decided that the best path forward for both our companies was to join forces. We believe this will lead to even greater opportunities for our employees, consultants and clients as we become a much larger organization.

Stay true to yourself.
Our companies both faced potential business impacts over the past year, with key industries being significantly affected by Covid-19. As the pandemic swept the globe, we kept in touch and compared notes on the steps each of our organizations was taking to adapt. And while many companies were conducting layoffs and reductions to respond to the situation, we discovered that neither of us had conducted a layoff for any reason, and we did not plan to at that time — even amid the extenuating circumstances. Instead, we both approached the challenge with innovative solutions to prioritize our employees and clients and uphold our values to position our companies for continued success when the inevitable market rebound occurred.

Relationships matter. As staffing professionals, we know that individual strength and team dynamics are essential to achieving successful partnerships. As leaders of $425 million-plus companies, who grew our operations at the same time but took very different routes to achieve our success, we have several lessons to teach each other, and our leadership teams are staying on board to help the combined organization reach new heights.

Be honest and learn from each other. DISYS and Signature are very different companies. We not only acknowledge this reality but celebrate it, and that is reflected in our decision to keep our brands separate after our partnership was solidified. Our differentiators and the complementary strengths our organizations have to offer make us a stronger, more complete whole.

DISYS hires the industry’s top talent and invests in the latest innovative tools to ensure they are successful. Signature, as a training organization, is dedicated to developing emerging talent while instilling a passion for the job and the industry overall. Together, we’re able to combine recognized leading talent with the essential training functions and joy for the job to create a dynamic, driven organization. Each of our teams comes from a different side of the same industry, with different strengths to offer the other. Our complementary cultures and attitudes are the key elements paving our path forward together.

Successful acquisitions, like relationships, are built on trust and mutual respect — qualities that are also critical in building a sustainable company culture. In our case, we found that our differences as organizations and as leaders create a whole greater than the sum of our parts.

By Mahfuz Ahmed and Dr. Jay Cohen