The Language Industry’s Key Hires of 2023

The Language Industry’s Key Hires of 2023

While technology dominated headlines, conferences, and internal memos throughout 2023, the consensus across the language industry seems to be that people will drive the use and adoption of AI, large language models, and ever-improving machine translation. The question is: Who, exactly, will shape the industry through those high-level decisions?

Dipak Patel — GLOBO

On-demand interpreting provider GLOBO kicked off 2023 by naming President and COO Dipak Patel as the company’s new CEO. Patel’s predecessor, Gene Schriver, founded GLOBO in 2010 and plans to serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors moving forward. 

Patel initially joined GLOBO in 2021, bringing more than 20 years of experience in private equity and health tech, with the latter being especially influential in GLOBO’s expanding presence in the healthcare space. 

“The past 18 months at GLOBO have been exciting, and I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to do great work with this team,” said Patel.

Paul Carr — Welocalize

With 3,100 employees, Welocalize is one of the US’s largest LSPs. One of the most notable additions is Paul Carr, who joined as CEO in April 2023. Immediately prior to the appointment, Carr was President of investment research firm Third Bridge for five years.

“Recent major developments in language-based, generative AI are clear indicators that the language services and technology industry are in the midst of rapid transformation,” Carr told Slator, “and I am thrilled to join Welocalize at such an exciting time in the industry.”

Bertrand Gstalder — Acolad

Super Agency Acolad brought on new CEO Bertrand Gstalder on March 15, 2023. While Gstalder is new to the language services industry, his career in digital services entailed work with several international companies. 

Gstalder described the company, which had completed nearly a dozen acquisitions at the time, as being “in an amazing place right now, having built a high-end portfolio of services and solutions, supported by a powerful R&D team that is focused on answering – and anticipating – customer needs.”

Drawing on his five years as CEO of French online real estate platform SeLoger Group, Gstalder pointed out that the “need for localization done right,” with deep knowledge of audience and culture, applies across industries.

Jeff Chang — Google

After 14 years as VMWare’s Senior Director for Corporate Globalization, Google hired Jeff Chang for the role of Managing Director, Localization in January 2023.

Allison Bay — PayPal

In January 2023, PayPal hired Localization Program Manager Allison Bay away from Meta, where she held the same role for over a year. 

Deepika Raghavan and Min Tan — Google

Google promoted talent from within to fill two Localization Program Managers positions in February 2023: Deepika Raghavan, an Offer Lead with Google’s M&A, Strategy & Operations, has been with the company since 2019. Min Tan, formerly of Welocalize, joined Google as an International Growth Consultant in 2020.

Menaka Thillaiampalan — Lionbridge

Lionbridge named Menaka Thillaiampalam as the new Chief Marketing Officer, effective March 20, 2023. Thillaiampalam will report to Chief Executive Officer John Fennelly and will be based in the company’s Waltham, Massachusetts office.

“I align to Lionbridge’s mission to help our clients break down language barriers and reach global markets effectively,” Thillaiampalam told Slator. “It’s not just about helping global brands grow their bottom line, but it’s also about helping people gain access to products or services in their native language that help them live better lives.”

Thillaiampalam’s two decades of experience at firms such as Dell Technologies, Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn, and Accenture included work on global brand localization and allowed her to apply her expertise in connecting with target audiences in multiple languages toward improving customer engagement, increasing reach, and growing revenue. 

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Saty Bahadur — Appen

Twenty-year tech veteran Saty Bahadur joined Appen as Chief Technology Officer in March 2023. Bahadur’s appointment followed the arrival of new CEO and President Armughan Ahmad in December 2022, likely in response to massive drops in share price during Mark Brayan’s seven-year tenure.

Some of the biggest names in tech grace Bahadur’s resume, among them Intel, Microsoft, and, most recently, as CTO of Upwork

In fact, as a General Manager at Amazon, Bahadur worked with Appen while helping to develop the AI platform for Alexa — an experience that he said he hoped would help him in his new role. 

Candice Telfer, Rob Lyons, Reagan Evans — MotionPoint

Coconut Creek, FL-headquartered website translation specialist MotionPoint announced in May 2023 the addition of three new executive officers to the team: CFO Candice Telfer; Chief Information Officer Rob Lyons; and SVP of Sales Reagan Evans. 

Telfer’s 20 years of experience in the software industry includes CFO roles at Motility Software Solutions and ITEC Entertainment. CIO Rob Lyons, whose title includes Head of Technology Enablement, has worked in the industry for 17 years as a software developer, manager, and executive tech leader. His most recent role was as CTO for a PE-owned fintech marketing services company. Evans, an award-winning sales executive, has expertise in managing global sales and driving market expansion.

“Our goal was to stack the team with professionals who share the same goal: provide our customers with the best concierge-level translation technology and services on the market,” MotionPoint CEO Evan Kramer said in a press release.

Andrea Giglioni — PayPal

London-based Andrea Giglioni stepped into the role of Head of Localization Program Management at PayPal in March 2023. He previously worked with Meta and Amazon Prime Video. 

Viestarts Vidiņš — Ad Verbum

Ad Verbum decided to keep it all in the family. The Latvian LSP’s new CEO, Viestarts Vidiņš, took the helm as his sister stepped down in May 2023. Vidiņš, his sister, and their late mother founded the company in 2002.

Vidiņš first contributed to the company as a translator and moved up through the years, participating in business development and taking on an advisory role in 2016. 

“Ad Verbum flourished on the back of increased CAT tool usage in the industry, and I will work to do the same in the age of AI,” Vidiņš told Slator, specifying that Ad Verbum’s approach is already transitioning to “human-machine hybrid workflows” which could eventually incorporate large language models (LLMs). More generally, Vidiņš added, he plans to focus on efficiency gains for the LSP through improved processes and management. 

Frances Chang — Andovar

Language services provider (LSP) Andovar announced in February 2023 the promotion of Frances Chang to the role of COO. In addition to three years with Andovar as a Program Manager, Chang’s resume includes more than a decade of experience in operations across different industries. 

Chang, who is fluent in four languages, will oversee Andovar’s operations in Bangkok, Budapest, Kolkata, and Medellín. She will also focus on incorporating AI into the company’s workflows.

“The high volume of content, time factors, and cost pressures create significant challenges,” Chang said about the work ahead. “To tackle these challenges, we are implementing hybrid AI-enhanced workflows, leveraging both technology and human expertise to deliver cost-effective, high-quality services that meet client content needs.” 

Sean Murtha — DS-Interpretation, Inc.

Sean Murtha joined the operations team of DS-Interpretation, Inc. as a Technical Operations and Product Specialist in June 2023. The company, with offices in California and the Washington, DC area, specializes in conference interpreting services and technology for multilingual events.

In a press release, CEO Naomi Brown said Murtha was “a natural fit” for the role: “There is nobody in the USA with more in-depth knowledge of Televic Conference products who also has extensive experience implementing new technology and handling elite-level conferences and events.”

Jeff Jaeger — Nike

Ten years into his tenure at Nike, Jeff Jaeger took the reins as Lead Localization Program Manager in July 2023

Donna Walker — Gap

Clothing company Gap promoted Senior Manager for Localization Donna Walker to the role of Head of Localization in May 2023.

Alexander Glazunov — Yandex

A year after joining Russian search engine Yandex as a Localization Manager in 2022, Alexander Glazunov was appointed Head of Localization in May 2023. Glazunov’s past experience includes working on the sell-side for Awatera and AG Translate. 

Maximilian Lachnit — Transline

In July 2023, Maximilian Lachnit joined Transline, one of Germany’s largest LSPs, as CEO. His predecessor, Katja Schabert, had been with Transline since 2015.

According to Lachnit, shareholder Blue Cap AG, which acquired Transline in 2022, made the final decision — likely swayed by his “profound experience in the field of finance.” Transline’s 2022 stats included a headcount of 180 and revenues of USD 24.9m.

As for services, Lachnit shared that, at the time of his appointment, Transline’s interdisciplinary Future Lab team was at work on multilingual language models for conversational AI.

Örjan Serner  —  Plint

Swedish LSP Plint appointed Örjan Serner as CEO in September 2023. The role is somewhat new to Serner, but not completely unfamiliar: the 40-year business veteran served as Acting CEO for Plint from 2019-2021. He initially joined the company as a partner and board member in 2017.

Plint has expanded significantly, both in its offerings and in its international presence across the Nordics and Europe. Specifically with regard to dubbing, Plint acquired provider KM Studio and has built new studios in Germany and the Netherlands. 

Scott Rose — VSI

Media localizer VSI appointed Scott Rose to the position of CTO effective November 1, 2023. The announcement comes after Rose, who will be based in VSI’s Los Angeles office, collaborated with VSI as a consultant throughout 2023. His experience in the language industry spans 28 years, including a stint as CTO at SDI Media. 

“What makes Scott special is his pragmatic approach to localization tech,” VSI CEO Mark Howorth said in a press release. “When he develops tech, he is always thinking about how it fits into a real workflow, where each day we process thousands of files.”

VSI’s technology roadmap for 2024 and beyond will involve enhancements in project management, increasing the implementation of machine-assisted subtitling, and continued development of AI-enabled dubbing. 

Melanie Heighway  —  Atlassian

Atlassian’s new Head of Product Localization, Melanie Heighway, has been on the company’s localization side since 2019. Since September 2023, she has been responsible for defining and leading Atlassian’s localization and internationalization strategy. 

Manuela Bărcan — X

On the platform formerly known as Twitter, now X, Manuela Bărcan became Localization Program Manager in October 2023. Bărcan, who started working with the company in 2020, describes her job as “leading the global localization function at X, supporting stakeholders across all areas from Consumer and Revenue Product, Engineering to Legal, Brand and Support.” 

Lars Thorsell — Svensk Medietext

Lars Thorsell’s journey to the top has been a bit unusual. Although he helped co-fund Stockholm-based multimedia LSP Svensk Medietext in 2006, his past roles within the company have run the gamut, from head of production to CTO and VP. As of November 2023, Thorsell is now CEO

Since Svensk Medietext is one of Sweden’s main subtitling and localization providers, Thorsell knows from experience that machine translation (MT) into Nordic languages is still limited and requires extensive editing.

In his role as CEO, Thorsell plans to proceed with caution in integrating new technologies into workflows, explaining, “We’re still developing and defending traditional human-based subtitling. We’re not giving up on that. We mainly work with premium content, and we cannot compromise on quality.” 

Alexander Ulichnowski — Argos Multilingual

US-headquartered LSP Argos Multilingual, which also runs a large operation in Poland, has appointed COO Alexander Ulichnowski as CEO, effective December 13, 2023.

Ulichnowski shares with his predecessor, Véronique Özkaya, a view that shifts focus on production to a more client-centric approach. Technology also has a place in his plans: “The board and I have agreed that the company’s focus in 2024 is going to be the large-scale implementation of AI across the organization,” Ulichnowski said. “My goal is for AI to touch every word we produce and almost every process in our company within the next 12 months.” 

Derek Heeren — Amazon MGM Studios

Derek Heeren was appointed Amazon MGM Studios’ Head of Localization Operations in October 2023. The role will also cover Prime Video. Heeren, a screenplay writer with 12 years of experience at Deluxe, joined Amazon as a Senior Localization Manager back in 2019. 

Tetyana Bruevich — LinkedIn

Tetyana Bruevich’s career path at LinkedIn hit the ground running when she first joined LinkedIn seven years ago as Senior Manager of Global Readiness. As of December 2023, Bruevich is the new Head of Localization.