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5 Questions for Greg Besio: Unlocking the Right Combination

November 4, 2011
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Related Topics: HR Services and Administration, Top Stories - Frontpage, The HR Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Change Management, Policies and Procedures, Workplace Culture
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Workforce Management: What role did you play as executive integration leader during the merger?

Greg Besio: I dealt with the mechanics, like what are the financials? How are we going to make this work? What do we want this company to look like, and how do we describe what we are doing both to our investors and our clients?

WM: What was/is your biggest HR challenge during the integration?

Besio: We were really sensitive to the cultural issues, so we went out of our way to make sure that [leadership] teams we put together were very balanced with people from both organizations.

WM: How did employees learn about the merger, and what issues were they most concerned about?

Besio: Our objective was to be really transparent throughout the integration process. On the day of the [merger] announcement, we had town halls around the world. There were a couple of hot-button issues around benefits, the vacation policy in particular. We harmonized benefits and we wanted to make sure that we announced those changes as soon as we knew.

WM: How did Aon go about integrating a company with a culture that is as steeped in tradition as Hewitt's?

Besio: There are some very common themes across the Hewitt culture and Aon culture. So even though our approach and methodologies might be different, we both have a client-first mentality. There were complementary skills but there was culture shock there, too. The Aon colleagues wished they had more of the deliverability capability of Hewitt, and Hewitt folks wished they had more of the brokerage capability that Aon has.

WM: What advice would you give to other HR leaders dealing with a corporate merger?

Besio: Be a business partner because there are a lot of decisions that get made during integration and your influence is magnified tenfold. [Company leaders are] being hit with so many issues at the same time. They may not have all the pieces they need to make good decisions. You can help them with that.

Workforce Management, November 2011, p. 25 -- Subscribe Now!

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