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Mitchell Lee Marks

travels from USA

Organizational psychologist, successful M&A expert and adviser and internationally recognized keynote speaker

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About Mitchell

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Keynote speaker Mitchell Lee Marks is an internationally recognized leader in mergers, acquisitions, leadership, corporate culture and executive teambuilding. As a motivating and engaging speaker, he has been invited to speak to a wide variety of audiences and has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The Economist, New York Times, and CNN. Furthermore, Mitchell is a frequent speaker to professional groups and has lectured at the Harvard Business School and Smithsonian Institution.

Keynote speaker Mitchell Lee Marks works with firms internationally, advising executives on issues of organizational change, organizational effectiveness, corporate culture, and the planning and implementation of mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, and other transitions. Mitchell’s clients range from small startups to large multinational corporations, as well as not-for-profit and government organizations. Mitch has advised in over 100 cases of mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, and other major transitions.

Current or past clients include Pfizer, AOL, Intel, Lafarge/Holcim, Motorola, AT&T, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Unisys, Hewlett Packard, Lucent Technologies, Abbott Laboratories, BNP Paribas, Johnson & Johnson, Scios, KPMG, Imperial Oil of Canada, BP Amoco, Molson Breweries, Bank of America, Citibank, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, MCA, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Blue Shield of California, Los Angeles County, the March of Dimes, and others in the financial, manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, high technology, government, publishing, consumer products, and communications industries.

Our speaker Mitchell Lee Marks is the author of seven books, including Joining Forces: Making One Plus One Equal Three in Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances which is highly regarded as the “bible” of integration management and now in its second edition. He has published scores of articles in practitioner and scholarly journals, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Academy of Management Executive, Journal of Applied Psychology, Human Resource Management, and Human Organization.

Mitchell Lee Marks received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1981, where he conducted the first studies on human and cultural aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and other major organizational transitions. His research on organizational change and transition, as well as on employee motivation and productivity, has been recognized in academia, including the Outstanding Contribution to Organizational Behavior award from the Academy of Management.

See keynotes with Mitchell Lee Marks

    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Making Mergers and Acquisitions Work: Managing the Human, Cultural, and Organizational Issues”

    • If 75% of mergers and acquisitions fail, what makes the other 25% succeed? This presentation looks at the factors that distinguish successful and failed combination. It identifies sources of employee stress and culture clash, and provides specific methods for minimizing their unintended impact on corporate combinations. It also gives advice for building a “one team” mindset and finding and locking in true synergies that make one plus one equal three in a merger or acquisition.


    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Culture Matters”

    • This presentation provides empirical data showing that corporate culture does matter in achieving financial results. It offers a model for building a desired corporate culture. And, it shows the many ways executives and managers directly and indirectly influence employee behaviors and attitudes.


    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Leading Effective, Productive, and Engaging Meetings”

    • Meetings, meetings, meetings…it seems like all business people do these days is go from one meeting to another. We’ve all been in meetings that seem like a lot more could get done in a lot less time or, worse, yet, that seem to accomplish nothing!
    • This workshop highlights the key complaints business people have about attending meetings and shows meeting planners and leaders how to design effective meetings. Attendees will learn what it takes to prepare for an effective meeting, how to conduct an engaging and productive meeting, and how to follow-up after a meeting to ensure its effectiveness.
    • Additional topics include identifying effective and ineffective meeting styles, knowing when and why to have meetings, understanding the roles of leaders and participants in engaging meetings, and learning how to salvage ineffective meetings.


    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Leading and Managing Your Organization to Excellence”

    • The pressures on executives in today’s work organizations are substantial and varied, including increased globalization, rapid technological advances, changing market conditions and evolving customer expectations. Amidst all these forces, executives must produce short-term results to satisfy superiors and shareholders, while developing a long-term perspective to build customer loyalty and employee motivation.
    • This presentation shows leaders how to balance competing pressures while producing desired business results. It helps participants distinguish between “managing” and “leading” and determine their own style and appropriate actions for moving themselves, their work teams, and their organizations forward.


    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Maintaining Productivity During Organizational Change”

    • This presentation for team leaders explains the stages employees go through during times of intense organizational change and shows how to manage each stage: letting go of the old, dealing with the neutral zone, and accepting the new.
    • It provides proven tactics for maintaining productivity during transition and getting employees focused on the realities and opportunities in the post-transition organization.


    Keynote by Speaker Mitchell Lee Marks

    “Building and Leading Your Desired Organization: Making Change Happen”

    • The only constant is change, but employees resist change. This workshop tells what goes wrong with failed organizational change efforts and what works in the successful cases. It presents a model for effective organizational change–letting go of the past, dealing with the neutral zone, and embracing the new.
    • It shows executives and managers how to design and implement desired change by articulating their desired organization, overcoming employee resistance to change, understanding and addressing the rigors of transition, and refreezing the desired new organization.
    • The workshop provides practical actions and case examples for harnessing human, cultural, and strategic dynamics into a desired organization.

Mitchell Lee Marks on Success Factors

Watch speaker Mitchell Lee Marks in action:

See keynotes with Mitchell Lee Marks

Interview with Mitchell Lee Marks

Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

Clients typically hire me because of my vast practical experience, my ability to translate concepts into action, and my colorful “war stories” which illustrate the dynamics and practices I discuss. I have been involved in over 100 cases of mergers and acquisitions. So, I have many engaging vignettes that describe what to do—or what not to do—to make a merger or acquisition work.

Audiences love to hear the stories that accentuate the practical advice. My career has been evenly split between academic and business jobs. So, clients appreciate that I present “best practices” within the context of how to realistic apply them. And, clients also appreciate my sense of humor and the manner in which I interject humor into some serious discussion topics.

What is your most inspirational life experience?

My most inspirational life experience is when I see a person who seems to be struck by misfortune smile.  For people in difficult situations to smile and maintain a positive outlook on life makes me put my life and my “issues” in perspective.  They inspire me to appreciate what really matters in life!

Could you elaborate on why some mergers and acquisitions fail and what makes others succeed?

There are many reasons why mergers and acquisitions fail—sometimes you buy the wrong company, sometimes you pay the wrong price and sometimes you do the deal at the wrong time. But, our research shows that the primary reason for M&A success or failure is the process through which the organizations are integrated. My talks on M&A highlight the specific leadership and management actions that distinguish successful from failed mergers and acquisitions.

Why is culture so important for corporations?

Culture clash in a merger or acquisition is a lot like breathing. You don’t think about breathing, you just do it. You may be aware of your breathing now, because it’s been raised to your attention. If someone came up from behind, cupped their hands firmly around your mouth and nostrils, and threatened your ability to breathe, then you would certainly pay attention to breathing. The same holds true for corporate culture in a merger or acquisition.

People don’t regularly notice their corporate culture, but when thrust into a merger, employees become aware of how their ways of doing things differ from those of the other side. When they feel threatened by a combination—often because they see themselves on the weaker side—employees not only see differences but also feel a sense of vulnerability and fear over losing their accustomed way of doing business. Rather than look forward to the potential of a new culture, they tend to look back and hold on tightly to their old ways of doing things rather than embrace the new.

Just as an organization cannot effectively run with multiple incompatible information systems, it cannot succeed with multiple incompatible cultures. The key is to get people in the lead company to act not like missionaries landing in the new world with the intent to convert the heathens to religion, but like diplomats who are charged with bringing disparate factions together.

With 20/20 hindsight, CEOs and other senior executives say that the one thing they would do differently in managing a merger or acquisition is to pay more attention to culture—both breaking down the old and building the new.

How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

Humor plays a huge role in my speaking engagements, as it does in my daily interactions with colleagues and clients.  Business topics sometimes can be dry or, at best, matter-of-fact. I have a well developed sense-of-humor that finds its way into my keynotes and other speaking engagements.

See keynotes with Mitchell Lee Marks
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Keynote topics with Mitchell Lee Marks