Baffled of Auckland: Where to for me after merger?

The merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq should create one of the most plum jobs in the New Zealand IT scene, paying between $350,000 and $500,000 a year, plus options, plus profit share. What should incumbents Barry Hastings and Russell Hewitt do now?

The merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq should create one of the most plum jobs in the New Zealand IT scene, paying between $350,000 and $500,000 a year, plus options, plus profit share. What should incumbents Barry Hastings and Russell Hewitt do now?

Dear Career Adviser,

I am managing director of the New Zealand subsidiary of a large multinational computer vendor, which aims to embark on a much-publicised merger with a major rival some time next year.

The new C-HP Global, headed by Carla Ferrari, will be a giant. Worldwide sales will total $US87 billion, just behind IMB (aka “Big Boy”), a former employer of mine, but we will be the biggest vendor in New Zealand with annual sales of $500 million.

I have been at the company for several years now and have been in IT management for around 20 years. I have several directorships ranging from an SOE to a small software company, I am a member of the Business Roundtable, and the wife and I grow a few olives on Waiheke Island.

I am aged in my mid-to-late 40s, the kids have left home, and the merger may present opportunities for a new chapter in my life.

If offered, should I accept the leading role in the new business, which will employ almost 500 staff, less whatever posts are duplicated?

I would have to deal with the merger issues of combining two businesses with two

different cultures, just like I did with the merger with Digidata in 1999. There would also be the usual management tasks required as well, such as doing what our Californian masters tell us to. Please tell me, what would I be worth performing this challenging and exciting new role?

On the other hand, should I aim for a nice fat pay-off and go into consultancy, say being a mentor for small businesses and helping them export to the US, which seems all the rage nowadays for former chiefs of large vendors. If so, how much should I be paid off, and how should I be renumerated as a mentor/consultant. Or should I simply develop new interests, such as buying a small glider and learning to press those olives? Or maybe I should go back to “Big Boy?”

Baffled, Auckland

Ross Turner of Pinnacle Recruitment advises: "This is one of those high-class problems that very few mere mortals have the challenge to address during their career. Our sympathies are with you at this time as the position here in New Zealand would appear to be unique given the apparent differences in both market share and strategy.

"To have a list of ‘extra’ activities that include several directorships, membership of the Roundtable and Queen Street farming on idyllic Waiheke Island, one would have to ask why you wouldn’t cash in a few options, negotiate an extravagant exit package and head for a year in Italy picking up the finer details of the olive oil industry.

On the issue of going back to ‘Big Boy’, we advise that going back to anywhere is never quite the same — more hard work, more politics and so on. Frankly, we would suggest you consider the question: ‘Who needs the hassle?’”

Former Intel New Zealand head Scott Gilmour writes: “Congratulations, Baffled! Forget ‘Big Boy’, forget the olives, forget the early morning and late night conference calls with Asia and the US. You now have a chance to go out and actually do something useful with your life. I’m sure ComHewPaq will be able to continue flogging its PCs and printers without you.

“Instead, you can now focus your time and talents — and some spare cash, hopefully — on some of the exciting young tech companies that are sprouting in New Zealand. I gotta tell you, it’s a lot of fun. There’s already quite a group out here doing it, as you cheekily mentioned in your letter. Now, how do we get Geoff Lawrie?

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