In the past, when I saw a headline of a new merger, affiliation, or acquisition, I thought of it as exciting news but didn’t put much thought beyond that. Now going through a couple of them, for the people involved, I now know it could be life-changing, for better or worse. I’ve been in three different instances of a joining of two companies. My first experience was with a smaller insurance company getting sold to a larger one, and my career ended pretty quickly after the announcement. Come to find out, the larger company had no security department, so it had no use for me. I was asked if I liked tech support or networking, which I had no interest in. The following two mergers were similar to each other because they both had large security departments; also, there’s a lot of planning for where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing. I stayed aboard both times for a while, but neither fit into what I wanted to do nor had the culture I was looking for.
If you’re currently at a job and there’s an announcement of another company merging or acquiring you, there’s a good chance some aspect of your job will change. Maybe your entire job, or your team; just know it will be different. There might be instances where a company acquires another company and leaves them be, but that hasn’t been my experience up to this point. Companies want to merge technology, downsize administrative staff or streamline everything through the acquiring company.
If you feel stuck in your current job and want to expand or grow, this might be your chance! I’ve seen this happen where a SOC Analyst is suddenly in Incident Response, and a Security Engineer becomes an Architect or Manager. Pivoting to such roles might not be as easy if looking outside your company, but it appears to be more common in this scenario. So not everything is doom and gloom, especially if you are looking for a change.
Things could be a little different if you enjoyed your job and it was your passion. It’s been my experience when merging two companies, there are many more differences than similarities. One piece of advice would be to think of it like you’re getting a new job. If you got a new job, would you be able to bring the SIEM or EDR you were using to a new company? No, and it’s no different here. Instead of being a clean cut from one job to another, the process will linger on for months, if not years. This can be demoralizing to see something you worked so hard to stand up, configure and tune, slowly be put on the back burner or dismantled. It’s hard. My only advice is to look at the new opportunities to create and design what you had at your previous job. Some might find it too challenging and simply move on, and that’s ok too.
Advice to an employee going through this transition: Try to be open-minded to the new possibilities, the chance to bring your knowledge to the table, or acquire new understanding from the company. I also advise that you prepare your resume and be ready to leave if culture, work-life balance, or job responsibilities don’t line up. You might even feel bad about moving on, but it’s ok. In essence, it’s a new job you never interviewed for, so it’s ok if you don’t believe this is a good fit for you. Either way, give it some time, evaluate the situation, and decide what you want to do with your career.
I also have suggestions for the employer acquiring the new company. As a company taking on people from the new organization, getting them involved in meetings, team discussions, or events is imperative. If you bring new members into the fold, treat them like new hires. Maybe research them (as you do with interviews), and find their interests, talents, and strengths. Have a scheduled lunch with the rest of the team. I’m not saying this will be easy to do, but more effort must be devoted to this aspect early on. You can refer to “Security club” and “MMO” for ideas in this realm. The last thing I’ll mention to the acquiring employer: be ready for an influx of ideas and thoughts. In some ways, everything will change for you if this merger happens appropriately. The way things have been done doesn’t mean it’s the best way; be ready for fresh eyes to evaluate your processes and be willing to accept that there might be a better way. Give it a try for a couple of weeks, evaluate, and go from there.
My final suggestion is just everything will take time. It’ll take time to see where you fit, what you’ll be doing, how you work etc. Take it all in, and then decide if you will stay or go. If you are quick to run, you might get into a worse situation. Also, remember you can’t change an organization, but you can always focus on improving yourself and getting better, especially during these times.