To integrate the operations of a subsidiary into an international parent company is common in the corporate world. The process is complex and not always as straightforward as one might hope. Schneider Electric Fire & Security Oy (formerly Esmi Oy), owned by Schneider Electric had not taken full advantage of the opportunities offered by the international group.
“My assignment was to help the Finnish company utilize the parent company’s international corporate structures more efficiently by moving the product development and distribution centre from Finland to Sweden, and the production to Latvia,” says Markus Alholm, Interim Director leading the 12-month integration project.
“It is important to involve the staff in difficult adjustment measures from the start”
The process of integrating a company into a global entity starts with understanding the company’s business and creating and implementing a strategy. To be successful, the project leader must work closely with the staff to secure a smooth transition.
“If you have already tried to integrate the business with help from an external consultant, without engaging the local management team and experts, the process easily fails during the implementation phase, causing both staff and business to suffer. I wanted to avoid this and involved the executives in the planning process from the beginning. By showing my trust in them, I ensured their support for the project.” Markus says.
Transferring operations to another country also means having to lay off staff in compliance with local labour laws. “Relocating local operations is a personal tragedy for many employees. You must build and maintain confidence and motivation despite redundancies. This is done by being open, showing appreciation, listening, and discussing. It was in everyone’s interest that, according to the regulations, the collective bargaining negotiations were finalized as smoothly as possible. We did very well, and the employees have thanked us in retrospect.”
The Interim Manager used his long experience of similar projects to make things happen quickly
When Schneider Electric decided to speed up the pace of the integration of the Finnish subsidiary into the Group, it was a natural choice to engage an interim due to previous good experiences. Given the complexity of the assignments, an overqualified Interim Manager who had led several similar projects before was the best solution for the company.
During the assignment, Markus developed the business strategy in addition to his main job. “As I looked at the business with fresh eyes, I saw great untapped potential. Alongside my assignment, I sharpened the business strategy from several perspectives. Thanks to this, the company is now on a growth path and the employees are excited about the new opportunities.”
Manish Kumar, SVP Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric, tells us: “Markus’ contribution exceeded our expectations. He quickly earned the trust of our staff and his leadership enabled us to create a new growth strategy and achieve the project goals.”
“The saying ‘no one is a prophet in their own land’ is often true. Based on my experience gained from other assignments, it is easier to make your voice heard at different levels of the company and get things done when you come from outside the company.” concludes Markus.