Highly successful in its sector and portfolio, Astorg is a private equity firm that specialises in investing in niche B2B global businesses. With international growth happening so rapidly and the hiring of lots of new people taking place, Astorg knew they were on the cusp of a cultural evolution. But they wanted to make sure it happened in a way that nurtured the culture everyone had come to love.
Astorg’s culture was (and still is) hugely valued by both its leaders and employees. To this day, it supports the uniqueness of the company’s proposition to clients and is a source of advantage in attracting talent in a competitive market.
As Astorg expanded internationally and hired significant numbers of new people, the CEO and Managing Partners wanted to make sure that the cultural uniqueness everyone prized so much would be both protected and developed. But they also recognised that growth required the culture to evolve. For example, they understood that a greater global presence would mean more rigorous processes and stronger compliance functions. And of course new employees bring with them different assumptions and beliefs that all contribute to the company culture. So we partnered with Astorg to help bring clarity to their situation.
To kick things off, we facilitated a comprehensive inquiry with partners and employees at each of Astorg’s offices. Through interviews and focus groups with the Partner, investment teams and wider staff, we listened and asked questions to create a rich description of the dominant cultural patterns, beliefs, values and assumptions and how these translated into business practices.
To capture our key insights, we wrote a memo, which included the key cultural tensions and dilemmas that were emerging because of the firm’s growth. We then shared this memo with a cross-sectional steering committee, including the CEO and some of the executive team to develop a strategy for actively sustaining and strengthening the culture.
Through discussion, they identified three key areas they needed to work on: 1) Purpose and strategy, 2) Design of processes & systems, 3) Connectivity and communication.
Key employees took the reins as they owned and led one of the three areas. Then every six weeks, the committee got together to review progress and share their insights.
The CEO circulated the cultural memo with all employees early on in the process, providing regular committee updates so everyone was kept in the loop. And to strengthen inclusion, Astorg formed a team of cultural ambassadors with representatives from across the business. Their role was to initiate and support cultural events at their locations where they met regularly to share what they were doing and learning.
Our work helped to initiate a robust conversation led by the CEO; a conversation about both the origins of the business’ culture and what needed to be protected, changed or
let go of.
The project unearthed some growing difficulties in relation to communication and inclusion. But, by building greater awareness around the specific issues, the team could address effectively. Together.
Astorg also made more tangible changes to processes, like on-boarding, to make sure they aligned with crucial cultural practices. And to help employees connect within the company and across the different locations, the cultural ambassadors organised a series of events that complimented the existing culture.