Argos Multilingual has just announced the appointment of Véronique Özkaya as CEO. Prior to joining the Poland-headquartered language service provider (LSP), Özkaya was CEO of Belgian LSP Xplanation for more than eight years, overseeing it through its sale to Denmark-based rival LanguageWire in 2018.
The self-described “pure product of the localization industry” also served as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Moravia; and, before that, VP Sales at Lionbridge, where, Özkaya said, “I got my corporate upbringing and served in many roles across several functions — operations, engineering, language, sales” for more than a decade.
Özkaya took the CEO helm from Kimon Fountoukidis, who founded the company more than 23 years ago. Fountoukidis has stepped into the role of Chairman. Özkaya reports to the Argos Board and has become a shareholder in the company.
Describing her new job, Özkaya used words like “focus” and “precision.” When asked what made her decide on Argos as the next step in her journey, she replied, “I loved the razor-sharp focus on selected industries and the incredible drive for quality. Argos plays in the complex, enterprise customer field and I believe that there is a great opportunity to go deeper and wider.”
As for her sales and marketing strategy at Argos, Özkaya said it is all about “surgical precision” as the LSP’s customer profile is very clear — Life Sciences and Medical Devices, Tech, and Manufacturing.
According to the Argos CEO, their plans now revolve around three things: (1) proactive account planning; (2) new business driven by a named-account approach (“Our marketing team spends 70% of their time or so on lead generation activities,” such as creating MDR or IVDR microsites to support clients in Life Sciences); and (3) Innovation Hub, a university-company-state partnership center.
On how Argos plans to compete over the long term in the increasingly tech-driven language industry, Özkaya said most of their efforts are directed toward technology, and “workflow flexibility and automation are major cornerstones of our platform.”
She mentions “quality” once more, saying it is “not talked about a lot these days in my opinion.” According to Özkaya, Argos has developed modules to identify quality issues in source content (“Major time gains downstream!”), as well as tools for linguists that support them through the workflow.
“Without tech, you’re dead! You can call the time-cost-quality triangle ‘digital transformation’ or whatever other phrase, [but] it is all about better, faster, cheaper, and also easier,” she said.
Working From an Island
Özkaya spoke to Slator from Martinique, where she has been with her family since March. They arrived on the French island two days before it went into lockdown. Özkaya told Slator, “We reorganized our lives and will get back to Europe when borders open again. I feel very lucky as Covid is very much under control here, and I am also on Eastern Time and can spend a lot of time with Argos US employees and customers — all virtually but it works great!”
Her “rhythm of business” as she describes it is “pretty much Europe in the mornings, USA in the afternoon. We systematically put our camera on during calls. Transparent, frequent communication is the key to making this work — remote or not remote.”
The company readily transitioned to working from home and the new Argos CEO said, “Overall business has remained strong, with the exception of a handful of customers whose business has slowed a bit. Having over half of the business in Life Sciences helps, but we are also seeing Tech customers going strong.”
Her short-term goals involve initiatives related to Innovation Hub and deepening Argos’ Life Sciences capabilities. Next on her list is accelerating tech development around their aforementioned quality modules as well as the “productization of key ideas from our Innovation Hub.”
Özkaya said, “I’d like Argos to be known for being the customer-obsessed company. M&A will play a big part in our strategy. We will be a home where companies can benefit from our strong commercial abilities, operational excellence, and tech platform to bring them to the next level.”