Is This the Right Deal at the Right Time? M & A Insights from Bracken COO Dawn Flitcraft
Statistics indicate that merger & acquisition (M & A) deals have less than a 50/50 chance of success. Calculating a successful investment means looking at the entirety of the puzzle. Without the extra review through the eyes of a due diligence and strategic integration team, debilitating losses can slip through the cracks—and with it, the chances of success.
Due diligence is especially necessary in the world of life science not only because of the tangible investment impact but because of the positive impact the product, service, or technology may provide in this patient centric industry. If you’re not engaging in true growth, growth that goes far beyond numbers and data, that transformational impact may be lost.
As Bracken’s Chief Operating Officer, Dawn Flitcraft excels at managing change during critical stages of change. Dawn comes to Bracken with over 25 years of experience in building and leading life science organizations to profitable growth. Most recently President, Ethical Review Division (WCG IRB) of WCG, Dawn’s track record does her justice: A contributing member of the Executive team that brought together more than 30+ acquisitions to provide service and technology solutions, which benefitted more than 2.5 million patients across 10,000 research sites, and supported more than 4000 trials. Dawn was also named “2020 Most Inspiring People in the Life Science Industry” by PharmaVoice magazine.
But Dawn’s contributions to the field are not only numerous—they are equally impactful. We sat down with Dawn to gain her insights regarding the importance of due diligence and post close integration, how she views successful leadership, and the benefits of being a professional problem-solver.
Essential to Growth
Being on the frontlines of making a difference is what working in the life science industry is all about. With a background in imaging, Dawn worked in the hospital environment for 15 years. But her career took a shift when she accepted a position at Clario (formerly Bioclinica). For an additional 15 years, Dawn worked in various roles in operations and strategic alliances. Later, Dawn was the Chief of M & A Integration Officer and President, Ethical Review at WCG before joining Bracken as COO. In Dawn’s career, M & A isn’t just a part of her job. It’s a driving force for her—creating change and leading those around her through the change.
When asked about the most impactful part of her work, Dawn talks about getting to execute a top line growth strategy but also making a difference in the lives of those around her. Making a difference is a driving force of the work the life science industry is doing. To Dawn, the due diligence aspect of growth is just as necessary as elements like ROI, in-house financial growth, and business strategy. “When you are part of a due diligence team,” Dawn says, “you look at the tangible black-and-white elements to ensure you’re checking the boxes and it’s the right deal at the right time. But it also gives insight into the intangibles. A deal may look good on paper, but the true value of an investment is that the organization continues to grow.”
Do Your Diligence
Due diligence is about more than checking all the boxes.
If the deal isn’t properly followed through on with a solid integration plan, things can slip through the cracks. Employee dissatisfaction can cause a mass exodus. Missing client deliverables can cause a domino effect of losing business. Once the deal closes, the hard work begins.
New executive leadership is brought on board, engaging the employees, and leveraging the strategy to minimize the risk of the unpredictable and accelerate the break-even timeline. The current economy is also a factor in how successful a deal can be. “Each investment,” Dawn confirms, “needs to be right not only for the short term, but for the long term. The due diligence process and setting up the right integration plan is vital for a successful deal.”
Dawn not only knows these politics that make a merger or acquisition successful, but she has also been involved in more than 50+ acquisitions with varying degrees of due diligence activities. She’s an expert at managing the little details that make the deals as successful in execution as in concept. That’s what due diligence is all about—the follow-through is just as crucial in business as the original business thesis. With so much at stake, a due diligence team is there to sweat the small stuff, so you don’t have to.
Deeper Than the Deal
The financial aspect is a key hallmark of a successful deal. But the quality, life-changing work goes beyond the money, especially in the life science industry. When asked about the highlights of her career, Dawn didn’t turn to numbers. She instead spoke of impact. “I think what’s fundamental for me in any work I do is that whatever I am involved in makes a difference in the lives of patients, especially for those who may have limited options available to them.”
Growth is a crucial factor of the due diligence process when it comes to M & A integration. But that growth is just as vital in the impact of the work being done, both on the frontlines and behind the scenes. Dawn says, “One of the best aspects of being a leader in the life sciences has been mentoring and managing individuals. Empowering women in this field has been very rewarding and a chance for me to give back because there have been so many who were my champions and helped me to achieve what I have in my career.”
The truth is you can’t have a successful deal without a strong due diligence and integration plan. Sustainable growth and strong ROI both come from having that attention to detail and trusted guidance that comes with support from the right team that you can trust. “What attracts me to this work is solving problems,” Dawn says. “Finding the go forward solution for each transaction is motivating.”
Due diligence services are necessary for companies seeking investment or strategic partnering, with similar benefits for communities looking to make strong investments. Bracken is your partner to provide the breadth of knowledge and expertise in the due diligence of pharmaceutical and radiopharmaceutical assets, clinical services organizations, and technology platforms supporting pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and imaging companies. Our dependable experts can seamlessly integrate with your team, processes, and workflow to ensure your due diligence project proceeds smoothly and efficiently and without interruption.