Navisite COO on creating a successful M&A playbook
Gina Murphy hasn't followed a "traditional" career path in the telecom industry, but her flexibility in learning new skills has likely laid the foundation for her current role on Navisite's executive leadership team. In this Women in Comms mentor spotlight, Murphy shares her advice on how to develop a playbook to ease the transition period during mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and shares how to incorporate an incoming company's technology and employees in a seamless way for everyone involved.
Prior to her current role as president and COO of Navisite, Murphy was a newspaper sportswriter; technical RFP writer; trained technicians on how to build servers; and held positions in sales, product and business development at companies such as Rackspace and TriCore Solutions. She's now on her second stint at cloud service provider Navisite. RDX acquired Navisite from Charter Communications in 2019, and shortly thereafter, RDX rebranded under the Navisite name. Navisite brought in additional recent acquisitions of clckwrk and ClearDB under the Navisite umbrella, and hasn't stopped there – the company acquired cloud managed service provider Velocity Technology Solutions just last week.
In this mentor spotlight, Murphy discusses the key to completing a successful acquisition, and the importance of building a company culture that supports new ideas, new technology and diverse teams.
Stay tuned for part two of this series where Murphy examines how Navisite is working with customers to automate their operations and create new revenue opportunities.
Women in Comms: What led you to your current role at Navisite?
Gina Murphy: For the past 20 years, I have been working for our CEO Mark Clayman. He absolutely is one of my mentors. When you walk into a room and there are 20 people in there and you're the only female, it's kind of intimidating. It's always nice to have a friendly face in there that has your back no matter what.
This is my second time around at Navisite – we used to work here, left and then [RDX] acquired it. Currently I manage all delivery and the solution architects and pretty much do anything in the company to help it grow in any way to help employees build servers, setting a strategy, bringing in new companies, etc.
WiC: You mentioned that the CEO has been a mentor for you. Is there a specific piece of professional advice that he gave you that's really stuck with you, or that's been very beneficial to you?
GM: I don't think it's one piece of particular advice that he gave me, I think it's just his overall approach. He's really good with people and one of those rare CEOs that understands technology and all the finances that go with it. He can do spreadsheets gymnastics with the best of them, and he leads by example – he literally works all day long and all night long. He's just been a really good mentor, and someone I can throw ideas back and forth with who responds in a non-judgmental way.
We have a complete leadership team with key people in the organization that – whether they believe it or not – are mentors as well. With what they bring to the table and how they go about their day, I learn a lot every single day from everyone. And I think that that's a very lucky culture to work in.
If you look at our leadership page, the amount of diversity and the amount of women that are on there is something that I am extremely proud of.
WiC: You've been involved with a number of mergers and acquisitions. You also mentioned previously being at Navisite, and then later returning to the company. Do you have any key advice or lessons learned on how to smoothly go through the merger and acquisition process, particularly in the telecom space?
GM: A very cool part of our job is to go out and look at companies and see what their culture is – any lesson learned I can give you is just to be transparent. That's probably the biggest thing.
It's always nerve racking for the people that we're bringing in. We like to teach them about our culture, showcase what we've built here, which is built on things like NaviGivesBack, which is a way to be effective in our community. We have this tagline that I love, "it's so much good," that we promote and showcase all the great things that we do, both internally and externally.
We're also laser focused on our customers – we want to make sure that our customers know that we are their trusted advisor, we will move heaven and earth to get them what they need and to help them be successful. If you can do all of that, it gives all of our employees a chance to grow.
With all of those things, you start to build an M&A playbook. Some people come into the company and it goes really well and they have an open mind. Some come in that are really hesitant and just want to wrap their arms around the company and not let anybody in. That's always challenging, and you just have to keep chipping away and try to get people more comfortable. Even though we might be acquiring them, we also need to prove that we're trustworthy, we say what we mean and we do what we say. That comes from the top from Mark, that we're completely transparent with them.
At Navisite, we had to let some people go along the way, but we are completely transparent with the entire company as to where we were, and what was next and when we were done. You do have a lot of lessons learned after every single one of these; we gather as a group and we figure out what worked, what didn't work and those lessons learned develop into a playbook.
If you can level-set and let the people that are coming into the company that we know that they might have some really good tools and best-of-breed technology that we definitely want to take a look at and evaluate pretty quickly, so that we can hop on and use it. That lets people know that they can affect change, be along for the ride and be part of the team.
WiC: You mentioned NaviGivesBack – what is that? Is it a program to give back to the community?
GM: Yes, exactly that. We recently had the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls to do a concert to raise a significant amount of money for the charity, "Off Their Plate."
Sometimes our efforts are regional and sometimes global, but it's a good way to bring our company together, especially during COVID-19.
We also donated socks in November to the largest homeless shelter in New England. We had found out that homeless shelters' number one request is socks. We also have a customer who has a children's hospital in Southeast Asia, and we are working right now to ship hundreds of stuffed animals for the children that are in the children's hospital. A wide variety of things fall under the tagline "NaviGivesBack," whether it's to local communities or global charities, we're always looking for a way to make an impact.
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading