EY Advisory acquires HR M&A consultancy Tasman Consulting

21 July 2016 Consultancy.uk

EY has acquired US-based Human Resources M&A advisory firm Tasman Consulting, hiring most of Tasman's team as well. As part of the deal, Shari Yocum and Niki Lee, co-founders of Tasman Consulting and former Cisco executives, have become principal members in EY’s People Advisory Services (PAS) transactions practice.

Tasman Consulting was founded in in 2011 after Shari Yocum and Niki Lee left executive positions in Cisco’s M&A department to start their own business advisory. At Cisco, Yocum led the HR M&A organisation, where she held a key role in building the next generation of the company’s integration strategy, while Lee was Director of HR M&A, where she also worked with executives to build Cisco’s acquisition strategy and model for post-acquisition integration.

They launched Tasman Consulting with the goal of helping clients better manage the people side of transactions. Service offerings they have since inception provided include due diligence, operations integration, total rewards, organisation design, talent strategy, HR operations and systems, change management, culture services and program management support. “We advise clients that cultural fit and skill match are critical for a successful acquisition,” reflects Lee. Last year Tasman Consulting won the ‘M&A Service Of The Year’ award from M&A Advisors.EY Advisory acquires HR M&A consultancy Tasman ConsultingOver the past years Silicon Valley-based Tasman Consulting worked closely together with EY on two significant transactions, and based on the success of the cooperation, the Big Four giant has decided to pick up the boutique advisor. “Niki and I weighed all options before making the decision for our organisation to join EY,” says Yocum, adding that the cultural match proved decisive. “EY’s focus on exceptional client service, and the desire to add deep industry experience matches our philosophy.” Lee adds: “EY has an outstanding team and is committed to growing their transactions and broader People practice. We knew it was a good fit.”

With the move, EY bolsters its HR M&A capabilities, and also also aims at becoming a major M&A player in Silicon Valley, with Tasman’s local connections and knowledge able to help make that happen. Clients Tasman Consulting worked for include American Express, LinkedIn, Dell, Twitter, Salesforce, eBay, Lenovo, Autodesk and Cisco. 

George Brooks, EY Americas PAS Leader at EY, comments “We look forward to offering our clients the added depth that the Tasman team brings.”

A recent study conducted by EY PAS in the Benelux found that HR tech investments are on the rise – the trend is driven by the adoption of digital technologies and changing operating models in the HR function.

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Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.