Karl Eastwood’s Journey to Becoming Global Lingo CEO

Global Lingo’s Commitment to Professional Development | From Bookkeeper to CEO

My Journey to Global Lingo

I started my journey with the Global Lingo team back in 2011 as a bookkeeper. Prior to joining the team, I had a range of experience that I think helped me get the job. I knew going to university was not the path for me. I am very much a hands-on learner and like to get stuck in.

My first role was with an accounting practice in Bradford, where I completed my Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification. After my first year of work, I transitioned to a local firm in Leeds and continued to learn.

However, because I’d missed out on a university experience, I decided to move away from home and gain some independence.

I took six months out to travel throughout Asia and Australia, which I loved. The diversity of knowledge gained from my time spent travelling would change me forever. I returned to the UK and moved into a corporate job, with the ambition to learn, climb the ladder, and understand accounting from a fund management perspective. However, I quickly realized the bureaucracy of a corporate environment would hold me back. I finally decided to leave after being told I could not take part in a management fast-track program because I had not gone to university.

At this point, I found myself at a crossroads. I was considering going freelance when I received the job offer from Global Lingo. It was for the role of bookkeeper. This would, on the face of it, be a backward step in my career. However, in Global Lingo, I saw the potential for career growth and international exposure, plus I would be able to satisfy my desire to travel.

I decided to risk it, and take the step back. It turned out to be a step in the right direction.

The Impact of Problem-Solving

I knew little about the language service industry before working at Global Lingo. It soon became evident that the company was willing to invest in its employees. We agreed that I could continue my education, as I only held an AAT qualification at the time. Global Lingo helped me with my ACCA (equivalent to a Master’s degree), enabling me to attain my chartered accountancy qualification whilst I worked for them. Global Lingo’s investment in me encouraged me to give back to the company.

Before I joined Global Lingo, all the company’s accounting was done externally. There were no internal systems of control or payment facilities in place. As a bookkeeper, I was able to implement the comprehensive infrastructure that is still in place today, collaborating with the sales process, project managers and technology team to synthesize a streamlined solution.

My philosophy has always been to take advantage of every opportunity I am offered. In 2012, Global Lingo was experiencing issues with the Singapore office (the company’s only office outside the UK at the time). Senior management was busy with other projects, so I stepped up. I bluntly offered to go and find out what the problem was and fix it, which I did.

A year later, in 2013, the company wanted to set up an office in Romania. I saw this as another opportunity. By this point, my role within Global Lingo had changed to Finance Administrator. This allowed me to hire extra people to help run the finances of the business and freed up time for me to set up the Romanian office in Cluj-Napoca. I initially travelled back and forth between the UK and Romania, but it soon became apparent that I needed to be on the ground in Cluj-Napoca full time.

It was time well spent. In Romania, the operation I set up grew from nothing to a fully-functioning language services provider with 25 employees.

By this point, my role within Global Lingo was no longer just a financial one. More of my time was spent on the day-to-day running of the growing business across multiple offices. To reflect this, my title changed to Finance & Operations Director. This led to me taking the role of Chief Operating Officer when our last CEO, Mark, left in December 2018. I have led Global Lingo since taking the role of COO. Although it may have seemed like a natural progression, I was nonetheless pleased to be offered the role of CEO in November 2021.

If I were to summarize what I have achieved and use it to give a piece of advice to anyone keen to climb the corporate ladder, it would be: diversify your skillset, do not box yourself into what you do today, and look out for opportunities where you can add value.

My Three Biggest Achievements with Global Lingo

1 – Romania
Looking back, moving to Romania and growing the business as efficiently as I did is one of my proudest achievements in the company. It was a moment in time when everything was aligned for me to step up. The opportunity was there; I was the right age, at 24, and had a strong love of travelling. This was the moment that boosted my confidence and let me show what I was capable of.

2 – Infrastructure
My next greatest achievement is the infrastructure that I introduced across the business from day one. We still use these systems today. They allow for a more efficient workflow in-house, and offer our customers a more user-friendly experience, from the initial consultation all the way through to payment.

3 – Team
This is what I have been working on over the past three to four years: setting up a senior management team of which I am proud to be a part. It is a team that is capable of running the businesses effectively. Having this team in place enables me to help other areas of the business, and gives me the time to work on strategic projects.

Future Ambitions for Global Lingo

I have approached planning the future of Global Lingo as a series of five-year sprints. Up to 2025, we will organically grow our revenue through investment in people and technology. We will then review our progress and develop our next five-year strategy.

We are constantly looking to enhance our client experience through technologies. We are not aiming to be a technology provider, but want to incorporate technology solutions that add value to the services we provide. We are currently growing our software and technology team, as we hire for new API and solutions roles.

Lastly and most importantly, we will focus on investing and training our team members. As our team grows, I want to ensure that our employees are cared for and given the same opportunities I had when I first started.

The language services industry continues to grow as more content becomes globalized. Our aim is to take a firm grasp of the market and grow with it. We will do this by having the best people, the most robust processes, the perfect mix of technology and human interaction, and a complete and utter focus on exceptional client satisfaction. And we will continue to do it all with a smile on our faces.