LSP Growth – An Up-Close Look with a Chief of Sales & Marketing Officer

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Tom Newman

Growth is something that happens around a team. Sometimes to a team. But what’s it like viewing LSP growth from the top?

To help answer that question, Adaptive Globalization’s Global Recruitment Director Tom Newman spoke with Véronique Özkaya, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer with Xplanation, Chair of the Board with GALA and a former CSO with Moravia and VP with Lionbridge.

Adaptive Globalization works with candidates across all areas of the language services and technology industry, with over 200 candidate placements made in 2016 so far.

Throughout this large volume of interaction with industry professionals, without a shadow of a doubt the most commonly-heard aspiration among candidates is a desire to join a ‘growing’ company.

Growth is exciting – it means change, it means progress, it means a move into the unknown.

While growth certainly permeates almost all areas of a translation agency, it’s not often that members of the core production and sales teams are offered the chance to view the corporation’s development from a bird’s-eye view.

AG: Xplanation’s growth has been rapid and spread across multiple geographies (11 countries and counting). What has been the reason to expand so fast across the map, and not focus on consolidation in primary markets?

Veronique: Initially it was purely down to the circumstances of knowing a number of people in those geographies. They really had a startup attitude and could stretch from business development to admin tasks and recruitment. 

If you take an office like Sweden in the beginning, we had these multi-talent profiles so we knew we could afford to start from scratch and build around the skills of our team. We knew that the opportunity of regions like Denmark or Sweden was there – we saw strength in the manufacturing sector and a growing need for exports so it was an obvious move.

Phase two of growth is a little bit more difficult, once hubs are established. That is more driven by our customers. What we do now is look at our customers and where we’re going to reinforce our capabilities.

It’s not just geography – you need to reinforce your services, customers, and regional presence. We have a base, we know it has potential, and we want to accelerate that. But the core is really the people. The talent.

AG: Why did you build production teams at each country?

Veronique: We try to build production teams in-country wherever possible. It’s our approach to have a customer-facing capability at least at a production level as often as possible. In countries like the USA, for instance, we wanted a PM in that time zone.

But beyond that, we have been careful to match cultures where possible, and not be purely time-zone or geography led. We need our customers and their support teams to mesh culturally and work together for best results.

AG: Is the US market still a major target among Europe-based LSPs?

Veronique: I’m a firm believer that there remains a lot of potential in the US. What is different from Europe is that decisions are made quicker, which is appealing. Selling to the US from a primarily Europe base is a challenge, however. We do have an offering with a lot of automation and cool technology, processes, and people – but the first engagement can be tough. We’ve definitely seen a big difference between having one office, to having multiple offices and country managers. This global platform has been a major accelerator in our ability to sell internationally.

AG: With respect to your office in Beijing. Has the Far East been the most challenging region to establish yourself in, as a Western European business?

Veronique: I think it is certainly more difficult than the US. It’s the culture, market, and trust-building. Even in America, people want to do business with Americans. In Japan and China, I’ve seen it repeatedly. A Chinese company will always feel more comfortable dealing with a Chinese company.  I think it is just down to human nature to feel comfortable to what you can relate to.

Despite our own industry’s best efforts, we haven’t reached a truly ‘global world’ yet! Local presence and cultural fit are still extremely important.

AG: Does Xplanation have any plans for South America or other areas of the globe?

Veronique: Our plans for the next 3+ years are principally strengthening significantly in Germany, the UK, and USA. Beyond that… many exciting things are coming! Not another geographical location, but we do have other a number of plans on the horizon which we’re very excited about and will contribute substantially to our continued growth.

Keep your eyes open for news over the coming few quarters!