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Merger and acquisition lessons for CIOs

A consumer products company changes hands three times, and a CIO learns about building bridges.

Candace Fleming was in IT at Cadbury Adams USA LLC when the maker of Dentyne and Black Jack was snapped up by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. and later spun off by Pfizer to Cadbury Schweppes PLC. "So I got some terrific lessons of what it means to have essentially the same job but for three very different companies," she said.

Candace Fleming
Candace Fleming, vice president, IT, Columbia University
After the Pfizer acquisition, Fleming recalls she eagerly anticipated her "first-ever meeting at a global company." The announcement on that momentous day: casual business dress. Henceforth, Pfizer employees could discard their suits for blazers and bottoms in different colors. Dismayed? Not at all. "When you're first starting a job, it is important to know the personality of the company, the personality of the management and how your style can fit into that culture," Fleming said. That does not mean submerging your individuality, but "building a bridge" so your personality and management style can be effective in the organization.

The experience of adapting her CIO duties to the style of three different owners has served her well at Columbia University, she said, where building bridges among the university's 17 schools, many of which have their own IT systems, is her chief challenge. "So that was my own little merger -- trying to build on the best qualities of all the organizations" in an environment where faculty members are kings.

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