14 CEOs Reflect on 2021

Navigating Through a Global Crisis

Learn from the Leaders in the Language Services Industry


Throughout the worst health and economic crises in modern history, we have been sharing aggregate feedback from multiple constituents, including 115 CEOs from CSA Research global rankings. In 2020 and 2021, CSA Research has asked members of our LSP Leadership Councils to share their insight, lessons learned, and what's ahead. We recently checked back in with them for an update. Their thoughts are below.

Note: We listed the CEO statements by company, in the order of ranking from our report, “2021 Rankings of Largest LSPs in the World.”

 

John Fennelly, CEO of Lionbridge (US$739 million)

If we’ve learned anything in the last year and a half, it is to expect the unexpected. This mindset has allowed us to be unfazed by the ongoing stops and starts brought on by COVID and made us a more resilient and agile company. We decided early on in the pandemic to communicate even more than our norm. Keeping the team up to date and bringing the entire company along every step of the way was never viewed as optional. Our employees are smart and have a right to know what decisions are being made. People and customers are our top company priorities. Continuing to reinforce our commitment to both paved the way for us during a time of personal stress for many on our team. Communicate, be transparent and don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.

July, 2021

Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Scott Klein, CEO of LanguageLine Solutions (US$618 million)

It is imperative to build organizations that are always finding ways to improve while remaining true to their missions. The pandemic has created a business environment with brand-new challenges. A business must be flexible by design, as opposed to adapting only when the sirens are blaring. We need to prepare for every eventuality and be pleasantly surprised when they don’t occur. One area where we must be diligent is hiring. Too many in our industry fail to realize today that the greater cost of hiring qualified linguists needs to eventually be reflected in higher selling prices to our valued clients.  Rather than reinforcing an unsustainable pricing expectation, we should realize that we are responsible for the long-term health of the companies we lead. As for our mission, we wake up striving for a world in which language and cultural barriers no longer exist. This is a massive mandate to be sure, but it’s one every member of our team lives by. This is what provides the wind at our backs when we feel like we can’t go further. It drives us to adapt, be urgent, and be excellent.

July, 2021

 

 Read January 2021's  statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Mark Evenepoel, CEO of Amplexor (US $285.4 million*)

The new office, engaging with the market and integration, would best summarize the last 12 months. Imagining a post covid world has been a topic for us as it was for many organizations. Acolad and Amplexor have been actively planning and preparing for a more flexible work environment going forward. Unfortunately, we’re not really in the post covid era yet, but we gradually adapt our policies and offices globally to cater for more flexibility while striving not to compromise on teamwork, collaboration, and communication. Reaching and engaging effectively with target audiences digitally has been the key business driver for our customers and our own sales and marketing organization. We’ve seen a huge momentum for our solutions addressing these needs in language & content services as well as in our content management and digital experience technology offering. After the closing of the acquisition of Amplexor by Acolad end of last year, a lot of preparation went into the integration of the 2 companies in a combined organization. Now, seven months into 2021, we are happy to see that the management team has successfully executed the ambitious integration plan and the organization smoothly continues its transition preparing for further exciting developments.

July, 2021

*Total revenue of both Amplexor and Acolad. 

Read January 2021's statement

 


 

Richard Glasson, CEO of Hogarth Worldwide (US $280 million)

Over the past 18 months we’ve all had to be very nimble, resourceful and adaptable to deliver for our clients and keep our teams motivated and effective. Now as we look forward the challenge is to look at what change was inevitable but accelerated, what innovations have had unpredictable or exceptional benefits – and crucially also to focus on what we lost while we were working remotely. We’ve adjusted to a different cadence of life and have found our way to success – but we’ve missed shared joy and celebration, informal inspiration and mentorship, spontaneous conversations that head in unexpected directions. Whilst there will be people who have some apprehension about returning to the office – and knowing the way we work will be changed permanently – there is going to be a surge of energy, excitement and emotion when we can finally bring our teams together physically and remember all of the reasons that we love being surrounded by our friends and colleagues. I can’t wait for that.

July, 2021

Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Smith Yewell, CEO of Welocalize (US $256.6 million)

Many years ago, I fought on the front line in Operation Desert Storm, the first Gulf War. It was one of the greatest tests I have ever faced as a leader. Covid-19 has been another major test similarly with lives on the line. In both cases, succeeding in our mission and getting everyone through the battle safely is top priority.  What have I learned from both? First, full transparency about the challenges is the only way to create the trust needed to get everyone through together. Second, regular and clear communication is necessary to keep all on the same page pulling together; I conducted a global town hall every two weeks for over a year. Third, a crisis creates challenges but also opportunities; don’t hesitate when an opportunity presents itself- we completed a significant acquisition during Covid entirely virtually.

July, 2021

 

Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Lucie Séguin, CEO of Translation Bureau of Canada (US $139.9 million)

 

COVID-19 had wide-ranging impacts on all organizations and most of all on their employees. The Government of Canada’s Translation Bureau was no exception: employees were suddenly faced with an unprecedented work situation, requiring to go on-site to maintain critical services while applying stringent health and safety measures or isolated at home with an overloaded remote network – not to mention kids to take care of, elderly relatives to worry about, and their own anxiety to deal with. Extraordinary efforts were made to keep employees operational, informed, engaged, and most of all, healthy while delivering high-quality linguistic services to the Parliament and Government of Canada.

 
 

July, 2021



 

Larry Gould, Chairman of thebigword (US $107.5 million) 

There is an old saying that good things come to those who wait and the Covid Pandemic has certainly made us all wait, but my goodness some of the after-effects of this terrible period have been absolutely great for thebigword. This in no way minimises the sadness we feel for all those who have suffered during this pandemic. At the same time, I want to share how this period has reshaped thebigword world. In the first half of 2021, we consulted our staff to ask if they would like to return to the office full time or opt to be predominantly home-based. The majority of our staff have opted to continue working from home predominately, a change that we are unlikely to have implemented pre-pandemic. Personally, it is a surprise to me how successful this change has been. People tell me how much they love the flexibility, the time saved in travelling, and the associated cost. We have invested in technology throughout our 41 years and our biggest challenge has always been to convince our clients and linguist community to use that technology. Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge channel shift where clients are not only using our technology but are also embracing it which has led to an even more effective service and a more profitable business. WordSynk has given thebigword the capability and capacity to increase our delivery many times over, this has given us the confidence not only to service more clients but will enable us to effectively absorb other LSPs into thebigword family – watch this space!

July, 2021

Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement

 

 

Juan Julián León, CEO of SeproTec Multilingual Solutions (US $61.4 million)

As the pandemic evolves, we continue to learn more about ourselves. We have been working for years to maintain a good balance between our translation, interpreting, and intellectual property businesses; between public and private splits; or even within our specialization development in various sectors. This diversification and healthy balance of turnover, together with a close monitoring of market trends, combined with a slow but sure strategic plan for the development of new services or sectors, are in my opinion the keys that have allowed us to successfully face these times of crisis. To this most strategic part of the business must be added a quick reaction capacity and flexibility to adapt the teams to the market needs or to accelerate planned activities if the moment requires so. During this kind of challenge is when you test and see the results of your team building activities and internal communications efforts. I’m extremely proud of the loyalty and commitment shown by our different teams and the respect all have proved when interacting with other business units or functional areas.

July, 2021

Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement 


 

Konstantin Josseliani, CEO of Janus Worldwide (US $25.5 million)

This year, Janus Worldwide is celebrating its 25th anniversary. This is a perfect time for us to reflect on the performance of the company as a whole, and set goals for the future, looking ahead to, among other things, further geographical expansion and an increasing shift toward more complex multilingual content creation services. 2020 brought a lot out to the open: it was a difficult year for us all, at a team level, and personally. We had to adapt quickly to the changing situation and approved a business continuity plan where we identified major risks and action roadmaps to maintain the smooth operation of our company in the most trying of circumstances. The industry is undergoing transformation. Companies seeking to expand cannot simply tread water but must evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers. To guide it in its own transformation, Janus developed a corporate strategy for 2020–2022. At its heart, the strategy is to expand our operations as a global supplier of language and related services. Digital transformation is particularly important to us, and we offer customers additional services. The company’s plans include transitioning from an LSP to a CSP, providing customers with a full range of content services. A key focus of our development strategy is technology, including but not limited to AI and MT. We are actively investing in our own in-house solutions. One of these is GTP 2.0.

July, 2021

 Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Michael Zhu, CEO of Lan-Bridge (US $23.5 million)

Mid 2021 is a good time to look back. We have been in the clutches of Covid 19 for a year and a half now. Nobody thought it would last that long. The situation is no better even though most people in the modern world are being vaccinated. In regard to the language business, it is currently affected by the 3 major factors of: Covid, globalization, and technology. Covid has staunched the flow of people internationally. The anti-globalization trend impedes the flow of trade and investment. Both factors will have negative effects on the language industry, which is intimately related with the free flow of international trade, investment, and people. With the advancements made in machine translation, lots of information on the internet nowadays is automatically translated by engines, reducing the need for human labor. The traditional method of human translation will need to be changed. Covid will pass sooner or later and the globalization trend will flourish as it does. However, humans and machines working together to produce better results much faster than before is inevitable. As for Lan-bridge, we have managed to live with Covid. Most of our staff is based in China and now back working in the office. Most of our clients are Chinese-based multi-national companies, but due to Covid, their overseas investments or projects have been reduced or postponed. This has affected our business growth. However, we have generated a 15% growth in revenue in the first half of 2021 compared with that of 2020. This is mainly coming from staffing services for Chinese clients within the country. 

July, 2021

 Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Kåre Lindahl, CEO of Venga (US $20 million)

Those of us that remember the book “Who moved my cheese” know that the sooner you adapt to the new situation the sooner you achieve success and benefit from the new reality. Here are a few points to consider when navigating 2021.
 •Everyone’s experience of the Covid crisis is different but we all agree that it is a major shift in how we live our lives. This can trigger big life decisions around location, careers, and relationships. I believe Covid increased the focus towards work/life balance and it is important to be aware and to be open to such discussions with colleagues and staff. Seek flexible solutions and be creative.
 •Don’t underestimate the mental strain on you and your colleagues of working from home, maybe alone. The negative impact of not meeting people is real and we need to actively support each other to combat this stress. Consider regular meetings, reaching out for short “camera on” online chats, or investing in more formal wellness programs. 
 •Covid has shifted larger organisations' remote working environment policies too. Remote working is becoming an expectation when hiring new talent. The reliance on a physical location is gone and everyone is ready to work across borders and time zones.
Covid “moved our cheese” and we better move too if we want to stay strong in 2021 and beyond.

July 2021

  Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Ludmila Golovine, CEO of MasterWord Services (US $12.5 million)

MasterWord has successfully navigated through the global crisis, which has once again highlighted the importance of our team and company culture. The common denominator for all our achievements and growth has been the team’s underlying strength, which has led us to spot the opportunities that are in every new challenge. This has been a time for innovation and finding new and better ways to support our customers. We have created a culture of success. At MasterWord we define success by having each individual team member feeling empowered to become their best self. We encourage each person to identify and refine their strengths to follow their dreams. By understanding that optimal growth occurs at the border of support and challenge, we focus our energy on the ultimate vision instead of diverting our attention to a bump in the road. In 2021, the team has put MasterWord on track for the fastest growth in our history. If anything, the pandemic has shown us that the most important thing during a storm is to focus on the vision and the team, while keeping our minds and hearts open, and seeing challenges  as a way to discover the best in us all.

July, 2021

 Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Pedro Luis Díez Orzas, CEO and Founder of Linguaserve (US $8.8 million) 

 After more than a year of pandemic, the world has changed, and neither the world nor us will ever be the same. Unlike previous crises, this one has affected every aspect of our lives, both professional and personal; public and private and we still do not know how long it is going to last. We ultimately closed out 2020 with significant growth, despite experiencing a drop, particularly in the second quarter, thanks to our extensive experience in digital content and data localization. We also grew as both a personal and professional team, facing an unprecedented situation in our lives with our clients and providers, and we came out stronger. In 2021, and in the coming years, we must undergo a significant transformation to adapt to current and future realities, which may offer new opportunities for business and growth. We believe that the values that have enabled us to come this far will be an asset, and together with what we have learned during the pandemic, we are optimistic about facing the new challenges ahead. Technology and innovation are more important now than ever. Transparency, sustainability, and corporate responsibility are no longer optional, but obligations as a business and as individuals. Client focus and improving and making changes to services, solutions, and methodologies are essential to remaining aligned with our clients in their own transformations. Teamwork, education, professional growth, and the search for excellence, both as employees and collaborators, are the keystones of any transformation. It is no longer about managing a crisis, but rather driving a new stage that we will face with enthusiasm.

 

July, 2021

 Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement


 

Anette Vandeloo, co-CEO of Powerling (US $6.5 million)

Since the last quarter of 2020, we have provided nonstop 15% more customers and increased our revenue by 30%. What happened? Positive effect of our management? Clients waking up? An economic boost? We are all facing a crisis that nobody had prepared for nor could have predicted. From it emerged a new way of doing business as it required everyone to adapt quickly to the sanitary crisis. The transformation to a global digital world is not a new concept and didn’t appear with COVID, but it accelerated the process. These changes forced us to shift our focus in the way we interact with our collaborators, clients, and providers. As a company, we have noticed that non-physical meetings had not the same collective ‘brainpower’ as the ones in-person. It challenged us to rethink the way we work, and not take for granted the physical time together. As CEO, we must take into account these changes, whilst keeping in mind the need for physical human interactions. So, let’s stick together.

July, 2021

 Read January 2021's statement

Read 2020 statement