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How we made our merger a success

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Managing director of Aukett Swanke Luke Schuberth describes how shared goals and cultural similarities helped Aukett Fitzroy Robinson and Swanke Hayden Connell Europe successfully merge

Aukett Fitzroy Robinson and Swanke Hayden Connell Europe came together as Aukett Swanke in December 2013. Prior to the merger, discussions focused on the two studios’ cultural similarities and shared goals, with property and IT leading the operational issues.

While the new firm acknowledged its individual legacies – stretching back almost 60 years in the UK – its primary focus was the creation of a successful future as a combined studio.

From the outset, all new projects were tackled by merged teams, and regular internal design reviews enabled staff to see each other’s work, get to know one another and guard against tribalism. Bringing together two design firms with distinct ways of working is a good test of a studio’s own working practices and a vanguard against complacency. And we found the quality of our work itself was boosted by the increased scope for open critique that evolved after the merger.

Staff retention has been high, while strong organic growth in recruitment means we have a lot of new faces. Our career development manager has a programme of activities that introduces people to the studio and helps to foster a sense of shared endeavour as well as a lively social atmosphere. These include new-starter breakfasts, induction sessions, life drawing and pilates classes, a photography club as well as softball and football teams.

Ultimately, however, the focus is on our work. All the activities we undertake encourage a diverse and social environment within a studio culture that supports engaged and knowledgeable staff to produce their best work.

The merger has grown the depth of knowledge and experience in the studio, which has helped us identify new opportunities, and makes us even better placed to meet the challenges that result.

  • Luke Schuberth, UK managing director, Aukett Swanke
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