Leading with heart: Entag’s approach to culturally focused M&A

Leading with heart: Entag’s approach to culturally focused M&A

Key advice for MSPs trekking down the acquisition path

Kris Carver (Entag)

Kris Carver (Entag)

Credit: Entag

In the heart of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, a tale of transformative leadership and unwavering commitment to people and culture has unfolded. 

Kris Carver, the  leader of Entag, stands as an inspiration for leaders seeking to navigate the intricate path of mergers, acquisitions and cultural integration. With a background that weaves through the corridors of technical prowess and leadership at Telstra and beyond, Carver has crafted a narrative that resonates with authenticity and empathy.

Entag emerged as a testament to the power of fostering a people-centric environment.

Carver's journey reflects the resilience and passion that permeates his organisation. From his early days as a Cisco engineer to his strategic roles, including that of AGM and board positions, he nurtured a deep understanding of the intricacies of leadership. This profound insight formed the cornerstone of his approach when steering Entag through pivotal moments of change and growth.

Entag's recognition on the Deloitte Fast 50 list is a testament to Carver's leadership. It is a reminder that his philosophy is not just a set of words but a guiding principle that has propelled Entag to heights of success while keeping people and culture at the forefront.

A people-first approach

Carver's journey into the world of mergers began with a deep understanding that the essence of a successful merger goes beyond just the financials. 

"Over the last four years, we have completed two M&A, both of which have been the smaller entity leading the M&A," Carver said. "In both instances, we were looking for value-added organisations to help us scale at pace and provide higher quality tech solutions for our clients." 

Carver's inspiring story starts with a focus on identifying complementary organisations that align with his company's core values and long-term goals.

Culture — the cornerstone of any organisation — took centre stage in Carver's journey. He acknowledges that identifying cultural differences is crucial and emphasises the importance of building together as a united entity. 

"Identify cultural alignment early, executive engagement across the business early and often," Carver shared. "Do what you say you are going to do, and do it quickly, proactively listen and communicate often." 

These strategies underscore Carver's commitment to building a shared cultural foundation based on trust, transparency and open communication.

Carver recognises that blending the cultures of companies of varying sizes is no small feat. His experience in navigating this challenge provides valuable insights. 

He acknowledged that "driving a culture of supporting each other and being nimble in our resolutions has helped overcome this challenge". 

Carver's leadership, rooted in showcasing a unified future and fostering a team-focused mentality, creates an environment that embraces change and innovation.

Navigating communication for unity

Effective communication emerges as a recurring theme in Carver's approach. He advocates for maintaining a flat structure that encourages engagement across the business, transparency and providing the 'why' behind decisions. 

"Recognise that ‘communication’ is different for every person. Recognise team members from across the business, encourage team members to recognise colleagues," he said. "Provide information linked to the 'why' of the change and mutually beneficial vision for the future." 

Carver's emphasis on clarity and transparency reflects his commitment to forging strong bonds across teams.

Resistance to change is a natural human reaction, but Carver's approach shines through. He encourages acknowledging and understanding resistance while focusing on those eager to move forward. 

"Communicating the 'why' behind any decisions and seeking input prior to rolling out changes also assisted in creating buy-in," he shared. 

Carver's compassionate and inclusive approach ensures that everyone's perspective is valued.

Nurturing a positive work environment

Maintaining employee morale and engagement is essential during cultural shifts. Carver's insights include focusing on recognition, gratitude, transparency and innovation. 

"Morale and engagement are an everchanging beast. Kindness and gratitude are free. Use them sincerely and often," he noted.

By fostering a positive environment and embracing initiatives that reflect the team's passions, Carver empowers employees to be active participants in shaping the culture.

Carver's strategies for building unity are grounded in authenticity. He believes in the power of personal connections, urging leaders to spend time with their teams outside the work environment. 

He advocates for gradual change and alignment around shared strengths. Carver's focus on well-being and team engagement is a testament to his commitment to team integration, providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions and cross-team collaborations.

Preserving values, forging a unified vision

Preserving the core values of merging entities is a vital step toward creating a unified vision. Carver's approach includes bringing teams together to discuss the ideal work environment and key ingredients. 

He advises looking for similarities and involving teams in designing and agreeing on core values guiding the shared journey.

Carver's unique approach yielded tangible success. His teams rallied behind the idea of Entag 2.0, embracing a shared vision of "Best of the Best." 

"It gave us a centrepiece to work from and allowed us to hold ourselves accountable to it ... it removed any bias from either side of the transition," he said.

This alignment fostered a cohesive, high-performing team that reaped the rewards of a shared culture.

Carver emphasises that culture is a living entity that requires ongoing nurturing and evolution. 

He believes that culture is built by the collective daily actions of every team member. Carver's onboarding sessions underscore the importance of each team member's role in shaping the culture.

Guidance for fellow managed services providers

To managed services providers (MSP) contemplating mergers and cultural integration, Carver offers profound advice: prioritise due diligence and integration planning for culture and work environment alongside financial and legal aspects. 

Seek input from trusted partners and focus on creating an environment where each team member's voice is valued.

Carver's journey is a testament to the power of people-centric leadership in reshaping the landscape of mergers and acquisitions. His story resonates as a beacon of inspiration for MSPs seeking to navigate these intricate terrains with empathy, transparency, and unwavering commitment to the people at the heart of their organisations.

Contributed by Digital Armour COO Mani Padisetti. 

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