X

Insight from CEOs at Leading LSPs

CEOs’ feedback on how to get back to business


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. Mid-way through the pandemic, CSA Research asked members of our LSP Leadership Councils to share what they’re thinking about their next steps in business.

We recently checked back in with them for an update and what their plans are for 2021. Their thoughts are below.

Note: We listed the CEO statements by company, in the order of ranking from our report, “2020 Rankings of Largest LSPs in the World.”

 

John Fennelly, CEO of Lionbridge (US$705 million)

2020 is behind us and here comes 2021. In retrospect, we really did a fantastic job weathering the early storm brought on by COVID-19.
Our advanced business continuity planning helped immensely, and we were ahead of many of our competitors in moving our teams and businesses to virtual footing. Our customers didn’t miss a beat with us and, surprisingly, our service metrics improved across the board and we gained market share. At the same time, our employee engagement scores continued to increase, as did our NPS scores. Nice surprises indeed! What does that mean for this second year of the pandemic? Businesses have more or less ignored the political turmoil in Washington and as the health care crisis improves, business sentiment should follow. The pace of change in our business will accelerate; if you aren’t innovating and delivering more for customers, look out.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Scott Klein, CEO of LanguageLine Solutions (US$530 million)

This past year reinforced the importance of having a plan. Our 28,000 clients and their customers and patients depend on us during their greatest moments of need. We long ago put in place a pandemic plan that included preemptively moving the vast majority of our linguists into a work-at-home model. Of course, we never expected to have to use that plan, but we did not want a failure of imagination to be the thing that undermined our clients’ confidence in us. As a result, we had a process in place when COVID-19 struck and our service continued without any disruption. It would not be hyperbole to say that 2020 was our finest hour. We’ve developed muscles we never knew we had and have grown closer as a team. In fact, it gave us all immense pride that we were certified as a Great Place to Work as a result of an employee survey taken in the midst of the pandemic. COVID-19 has been like an x-ray of society. Its disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable populations has shone a bright light on centuries-long inequalities. Heading into 2021, we are more committed than ever to helping those who need it most in pursuit of a world in which language and cultural barriers no longer exist.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Richard Glasson, CEO of Hogarth Worldwide (US $278 million)

So here we are at the start of 2021, and contrary to what we might have believed back in the early days of the pandemic we probably have at least another full year of COVID-affected professional and personal life. But that mustn’t mean that it’s more of the same. The beginning of a new year is always an opportunity to change gears, and this January is no exception. If people had told me in March 2020 that we’d have 98% of our teams working from home, that large parts of the world would be in some degree of lockdown for over a year, and that whole industries – travel and hospitality in particular – would be effectively dormant I’d have anticipated effects on our business results much more profound than in fact turned out to be the case. Financially last year was a strong one for Hogarth. True, we didn’t see the level of growth that we’d planned – but neither did we see the reduction in revenue that one might have anticipated. A lot of our clients are in resilient sectors, and for every client who reduced budgets, we had one who increased activity and overall, this created positive momentum for the business. We all learned a lot about resilience last year, and we all overcame significant hurdles. Now we need to push on. Whereas 2020 might have been about ensuring that we kept delivering for our clients in the teeth of uniquely challenging circumstances, 2021 has to be the year of sustained innovation. If last year was about execution, this year is about driving forward structural and strategic change to bring ever more value to our clients, to embrace what new technology can enable in a post-COVID world and to use a period of profound change to accelerate those innovations which will change the shape of our industry permanently.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Smith Yewell, CEO of Welocalize (US $255 million)

The true test of character is a crisis, and I am very proud that the Welocalize family responded to the 2020 COVID crisis with careful planning, resolve, and caring for each other to weather the storm. We planned for the worst; and fortunately, the worst did not happen. We held global townhalls every two weeks, virtual social events, countless video calls with customers, webinars- and used many other digital tools. We adapted, and now we are stronger for it. The highlight for me: the poignant humanity of all the small things each and every day people did to show they care about each other. I’ll never forget the incredible compassion that was displayed. What’s next? COVID accelerated years of digital transformation into months. Now that we are digitized, we can use data to transform the industry. Predictive quality, predictive task assignment, predictive risk profiling and predictive business outcomes- we are building algorithms to predict the future! When I started in the industry 20 years ago, the hope was to move beyond just delivering projects to becoming a true strategic service partner. Now we are there, and the potential for where the industry goes from here is amazing.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Mark Evenepoel, CEO of Amplexor (US $180 million)

 

Looking back at 2020, we were happy to have had our technology and processes in place to deal with extreme security or safety issues and instantly enable fully remote operations. The accelerated digital transformation came with many business opportunities, which allowed us to stay on course or even exceed expectations within many of the industries we serve. We are also proud we managed to pull off a major M&A transaction resulting in the merge of Amplexor with Acolad, handled exclusively in digital form. While we never compromised on our people’s safety, our main challenge was obviously the lack of physical human interaction both internally and within the market. Internal communication and marketing were crucial domains addressed involving a lot of innovation and experimentation. We expect this to continue in 2021, while we are optimistic the pandemic factor will eventually fade. I also guess we will not be the only ones, searching for the right and new balance between office and home office presence, going forward.

January, 2021


 

Larry Gould, Chairman of thebigword (US $108 million) 

2020 will always be in my memory as the worst and the best year of the 40 years of thebigword. Worst, obviously due to the human cost, people losing their lives, uncertainty regarding their livelihoods, furloughs and layoffs. The best of 2020; amazing can-do approach by the team at thebigword, payback for all the investments we have made in technology, allowing us to continue with our interpreting services through video remote interpreting, the coming to maturity of Machine Translation and the amazing effect that AI has on our workflow, which has contributed enormously to our increase in profits. Looking forward, of course is the vaccine. Although, the real benefits of the vaccine, I don’t believe will be enjoyed until the spring, it’s great to have something to look forward to. We are seeing a huge increase in our translation business and also enjoying the success that video remote interpreting is having in court rooms, hospitals, and elsewhere whilst maintaining measures to protect our linguists. In 2021 the offices as we knew them will change forever. A hybrid of working from home and working from our collaboration centres (the new name for our offices) will be the new normal, giving the majority of our staff reduced travel, flexibility, and yet still the opportunity to meet colleagues in our collaboration centres and an ongoing reduction in our carbon footprint.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Juan Julián León, CEO of SeproTec Multilingual Solutions (US $61 million)

2020 not only brought upon us the pandemic but also various challenges, forcing a change in all of us. These changes for us were an opportunity to prove that our continuous improvement policy is a must to keep modifying successfully. Fortunately, when the company quickly shifted towards remote work, our services were not compromised. Our company was presented with difficult decisions, regardless, we proved sustainable, strengthened, and reinvigorated. Maintaining our optimism and confidence will remain part of our plan for the new year. As we have completed 2020, we look forward to 2021 with great conviction and flexibility to the changes that we may face. We will surely optimize our efficiency and we are convinced that the investment in technology we already adopted and a quick reaction to introduce or enhance services to the market will help to show uninterrupted growth in the digital era. I am profoundly grateful for the loyalty and commitment that my team has shown me through this unpredictable 2020. My deep respect goes to my employees who, even though they have had personal struggles, persisted to adjust to this so-called new normal. The pandemic has become part of our lives, and we will persevere in our critical work.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Konstantin Josseliani, CEO of Janus Worldwide (US $25.4 million)

 

2020 has been a difficult year for us all, at both the team and individual level. We have had to live with isolation, restrictions, health risks, economic upheavals, and challenges we have never faced before. Someone said at the beginning of the year: “Your plan for 2020 is already history.” Indeed, we had to adapt quickly to the changing situation, make sometimes tough decisions and ensure the smooth operation of our company in the most trying circumstances. During the 2nd quarter, the language services industry experienced an unprecedented recession – almost 20% on average, but some companies reported as much as 40–50%. The industry has experienced declining volumes, a payments crisis, psychological stress among employees, and uncertainty. We approved a business continuity plan where we identified major risks and action roadmaps to maintain continuity of our operation. By taking timely steps, strictly adhering to our strategy, and efficiently coordinating ongoing processes, we had already managed to reverse the adverse trends in the 3rd quarter and reach growth indicators. And in the 4th quarter, we consolidated the success achieved.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Michael Zhu, CEO of Lan-Bridge (US $25.35 million)

 

As. Booker T. Washington said, ‘Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome…’ and Lan-Bridge Group certainly overcame many obstacles last year. Originally, our target growth rate was 20%. However, the pandemic changed all that. One of the issues that we had to overcome was working remotely from home as working in the office had become a luxury none of us could afford. Thanks to our continuous improvement of MT and LAN systems, the majority of our employees were able to settle into the new routine fairly quickly. However, the management team was still under more stress than normal to cope with the continually changing situation. In 2020, our revenue dropped by 10% compared to 2019. Interpretation was hit hardest as large-scale international events were mostly discontinued. Staffing services were also hit hard as clients cut spending to reduce costs. The virus aside, MT technology is drastically reshaping the translation and language industries, which is a much more severe and fundamental problem than the virus has caused. In a year where business opportunities were scant, I realized that what a 20-year-old company needs to keep succeeding is not more personal nor office space. What we need is to be flexible in our management so that we can grasp each opportunity that comes our way. We also need to take each opportunity and use it to change ourselves for the better.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

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

We pivoted from a 0 to a 1, but unlike binary code I believe the pandemic will still impact us for a large part of 2021. However, there is one big difference - now we are prepared. Even though Venga was well set up from a working-remote standpoint, in 2020, we had to adjust large parts of our sales & marketing plans. Live events were off the table, so we needed to up our digital marketing, virtual events, webinars, and global communication game. In response, we launched our Global Corporate Citizen Program, a new Venga AI website and suite of tools and services, a new Workday Global Change Management rollout portal, and our new series of webinars and other digital campaigns. By August, many of our customers had adapted as well and we started to sign new clients that we hadn’t met face to face before. I think this is the new reality for 2021. More and more of what used to be face2face can now be screen2screen. In 2021, we are ready to expand and optimize on our 2020 initiatives. We will also take on new virtual initiatives such as launching the “Global Ambitions” podcast as a learning resource for the localization community and preparing for “back-to-normal” activities later in 2021.
We remain agile and adaptive and create new opportunities in this new environment.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Katja Schabert, CEO of Transline (US $19 million) 

In 2020 the COVID-19 crisis forced the change of almost every aspect of the business world. This year, however, is likely to be the year when the world transitions to the next normal. We can be sure: 2022 won’t look anything like 2019. It is still unclear, what the post-COVID-19 time will bring. When will consumer confidence return and increase demand in sectors which have struggled during the pandemic? Will traveling be different and when will we be able to meet again in person to do business. Though digital ways of meeting have had a record high in the past few months, people crave to get together without a monitor in between. As for Transline: We managed 2020 well - changed, adapted, evolved. Though home is still the main place to work, and with no real end to it, our people already plan how to get together and when to celebrate and to party. This is what keeps us moving – hopefully to a better 2021.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Ludmila Golovine, CEO of MasterWord Services (US $15 million)

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first global crisis to impact business, and it will unfortunately not be the last. As we reflect on 2020 and the adjustments we had to make to everyday life, we find ourselves analyzing the lessons learned and trusting that our dynamic 2021 business plans will move us forward. While COVID-19 may have presented a unique opportunity to introduce efficiency in our methodologies and workflows through increased automation and other process innovation, will these planned adjustments be enough to allow us to pivot to a new normal? What will that new normal look like? The past year has shown the strength of our business model, the commitment of our staff, and the wholehearted trust of our customers. This has helped us chart our new path to continuity and sustainability. As the prospect of a return to normal appears with vaccinations, we see a bright future for our industry.

January, 2021

Read 2020 statement


 

Maarten Fleurke, CEO of Ingenuiti (US $10 million) 

 

One of the benefits of living in areas that are used to natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards, is that you become flexible when it comes to changes in your work habits. Consequently, when COVID hit, we had our business interruption plans in place and did not skip a beat.
After a few months of working remotely at our various global locations, we slowly resumed working out of our offices again, which was welcomed by most of our staff. You can only spend so much time in solitary confinement. We are excited about 2021. After experiencing modest growth in 2020, we are bullish about the new year.

 

 

 

January, 2021


 

Anette Vandeloo, co-CEO of Powerling (US $6.7 million)

COVID-19 has been challenging, but we were quick to reorganize our management to deal with three main issues. The first priority was to ensure our team’s safety. Our management methods evolved to adapt to the global crisis and build better cohesion. We quickly set up technical solutions to support remote working and agile, resilient teams. Next, we faced the need for education. No matter how good a crisis plan is, it requires education to put it into practice and a CEO who is both willing and convincing. Finally, we realized the need to share risks throughout the markets. Powerling operates across borders (the US, China, the Netherlands, France). Each government has its own responses that impact business differently. As a consulting agency, we create personal relationships with our clients, using adapted, relevant channels to reach them, such as social media. Challenging times highlight core values. The COVID crisis brings home the true meaning of work and creates a new sense of community. COVID has forced us to rethink old habits, opening the door to home working. There’s still uncertainty ahead, but this is an opportunity to share positive lessons from within our teams with our clients. We plan to go forward together.

January, 2021