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.

"We tend to try to retain all the key talents from an acquisition," he says. "Sure, some people leave, but we value the new DNA. We weren't a service company before these acquisitions, and we need the expertise."

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