Member Profile - Christopher McKenna

man in a yellow parka against a snowy landscape

Christopher McKenna
Managing Director, Carleton McKenna & Company

ACG Member Since: 2008
ACG Involvement: Programming Committee member

How have you had to adapt your business model during the shutdown? What has worked and what hasn’t?

Internally we have found that seeing the team together every morning on WebEx calls has really helped keep our communication channels open. The meeting signals the start of the connected day and ensures we know others’ priorities and where we each need help.

I think we probably don’t do well bookending the day — the workday tends to drift farther into the evening than usual since there are not ‘get in the car’ or ‘walk to the apartment’ cues. We probably need more virtual firm happy hours!

What has surprised you most during this period?

Externally we have been positively surprised by the speed with which we can schedule video conference ‘next step’ meetings — it's helping us move transactions along despite obvious logistical challenges. And of course, the fact that beards are not maintenance-free is a bit of a shocker ... I always assumed that was the point!

Do you think we will see lasting changes to how we do business as a result of this?

I can’t imagine going back to having regular group meetings that are not both in-person plus video conferencing (multi-party transaction team updates, internal team projects, etc.) given the increased attention of and productivity from participants. As for snapping back, I assume the in-person cocktail get-togethers will be a siren’s song that is too strong to resist.

There have certainly been economic winners and losers during this period. Which ones have surprised you the most?

Probably not a surprise, but I am impressed by the energetic runs at new channels, products, and markets from entrepreneurs. We’ve seen aggressive pivots from a retail-oriented company to online selling and from a cruise-centric business to personal protective equipment. It’s real-time proof that businesses are a dynamic economic engine in our society and it should give us hope for whatever is our ‘new normal’ in the coming months.

Has there been a "silver lining" for you and if so, what is it?

Our two college-age daughters have been back sheltering with us for over six weeks. They have brought tremendous energy and fun (laundry, too!) into the house. Along with two high-school sons, it has felt a little like we are a (tight) six-person office of a start-up company — working side-by-side, taking walks/hiking breaks, cooking, and commiserating together. It’s a unique and amazing opportunity. Separately, our firm actually created a short series on ‘creating silver linings’ — so I should plug that too!

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

ACG’s Dealmakers, or as Brooke and Nora call it: "M&A Prom." It’s a great way to kick-off the new year, networking with friends from out of town, and connecting with our local transaction community.