We spoke with Laura Corcos, the HR manager of sennder France, to talk about what to look out for when uniting two company cultures, the Paris office’s future as a bustling tech hub, and what’s next for sennder after this post-merger integration.
We recently completed the post-merger integration of sennder France, previously known as Everoad by sennder. And it went, well...well! That’s not something to sneeze at. Many mergers fail, sometimes spectacularly. How did sennder and Everoad make it work? We sat down with sennder France’s HR manager, Laura Corcos, to find out.
Hi Laura! How are things going, post-post-integration merger?
Things are going well! Now that the teams and roles have been clarified and processes have been put in place, I’d say we’re running pretty smoothly. It really helped that our company cultures and values were so similar. We were also lucky to have a really involved team that was able to dedicate all their energy to making sure the migration was successful.
Tell us a little bit about Everoad. What was your focus there?
Everoad was established in 2016 to digitalize road freight transport in Europe, so similar to sennder. When I arrived as Chief Happiness Officer in 2018, there were only 30 employees, and I was the first one on the People team. I had to build the entire department. After just two years there were over 100 of us. Managing that hyper growth was the biggest challenge of my job.
And what do you do now at sennder France?
I manage the sennder France People department. There are three of us, so I have one person for HR admin, one for recruitment, and me. In addition to setting up the department’s strategy and managing the team, I focus on career paths and development. At the moment there are about 40 people total on all of sennder’s people teams across Europe. The four main topics are recruitment, culture, HR operations, and HR development.
I’m of the opinion that employees can thrive at work when they have good relationships with their managers, can access opportunities to develop new skills, and really understand how their careers can evolve at the company, both short-term and long-term. This is what we’re focusing on now!
What was it like as a French company merging with a German company?
Really interesting! National differences are such a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another, but they can also obviously present some challenges. Ultimately, we were able to take the best parts of both companies to create even more efficient processes and an even better product. We spent a lot of time and energy aligning processes, tools, and ways of working.
Beyond that, as a company with a larger footprint we now have experts on the ground in more countries, which means sennder can better meet customer needs on the local level. The merge also gives individuals new career opportunities and enhanced geographic mobility. We’ve already had one person from the Paris office move to Berlin - and vice versa!
What kinds of challenges did you face during the integration?
Some of the biggest challenges for any merger, from a People team perspective, are pretty obvious: culture, values, vision, mission. Fortunately, sennder and Everoad had very similar cultures. We also shared four out of five values: trusting in data, succeeding as a team, taking ownership, learning from mistakes...These similarities helped a lot.
As said earlier, alignment was also really key, as was finding a good balance between global process and culture flexibility. A great example is lunch: Our German colleagues were happy to host work meetings during lunchtime. But that’s definitely a no-go in France! We take our meal times seriously here.
Did you keep track of how your team members in the French office were feeling throughout the integration process? Any hiccups along the way?
sennder uses an employee engagement tool called Peakon to keep track of employee perspectives on particular subjects. It provides us with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) that helps us evaluate engagement through lots of drivers like growth, recognition, management support, and workload. We designed specific questions related to the PMI to monitor how people were feeling. When the answers to the Peakon PMI questions made it clear that employees wanted more communication on this topic, we launched internal newsletters. This was in addition to our existing all-hands meetings, Q&A sessions, and quarterly reviews.
If you could do it all over again, what’s one thing you would do differently?
Not an easy question to answer! But I would say the one thing I would do differently is taking more time for the whole thing. Even though we tried our best to communicate a lot, integrating quickly is hard. Things went really fast, and our tracking showed that some employees definitely would have appreciated more time to digest all the new information and all the change.
Anything special about Everoad’s culture that you’re excited to bring to sennder?
French passion for food :) Before the pandemic we often hosted team gatherings that centered around food experiences: either breakfast, lunch, or apéro (French after-work drinks). These were always great moments to create community around a nice “food break.”
What’s next for sennder France, and the sennder group as a whole?
sennder announced a $160 million Series D in January. $100 million of that is going to the tech team, which is very exciting. The tech team is divided between Paris and Berlin, and we’re looking to fill around 60 positions in Paris alone by the end of 2021. The Paris tech team is already very strong, and there’s a lot of great tech talent in France. We also want to recruit 40 new employees in Paris for operations, sales, and HR by the end of the year.
Otherwise, I’m just looking forward to celebrating our successes!
Listen to Laura Corcos' podcast on post-merger integration HERE.
Learn more about Everoad by sennder’s transformation to sennder France HERE.