450 Steps to Finance Integration

Dell’s David Kennedy works to integrate the finance operations of newly acquired companies.

Often, the process of mergers and acquisitions comes down to squeezing enough savings out of the acquired firm for the deal to make economic sense, leaving the person in charge of integration in the unenviable role of “hatchet man.”

As executive director of finance at Dell, David Kennedy has been overseeing the finance integration and “work stream efforts” of the company’s aggressive acquisition program. Kennedy, 35, sees his role in a much more positive light, as primarily a cultural integration effort. Dell has completed 18 acquisitions since its $3.9 billion purchase of Perot Systems in 2009. Kennedy, who managed the integration of six of the transactions, says that for the most part, Dell keeps on the staff of the companies it acquires.

What’s the key to your fast track career path?
My career had three international assignments, two in the U.S., and one in Bangalore, India. I also started out with an internship in Ireland while I was still in college. So each time there’s a leap of faith you make. It turns out that these are the most rewarding experiences I have had. I get a lot of new contacts, and because I’ve had experience in the U.S., India and Europe, I now have contacts all over and can find help in all areas. By the way—you don’t need to go on foreign assignments to get global experience, but you do need a travel budget!     

What has been the best part of your job?
At Dell, we are transforming our business from being a traditional box seller to being a solution provider. I’m right at the heart of that transformation, with M&A being one of the parts of it.

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