The Language Industry’s Top 10 People Stories from the First Half of 2018

With 2018 half over, Slator looks back at the what happened in the boardrooms and executive teams of some of the industry’s largest vendors.

Lionbridge – An (Almost) New Executive Team

Lionbridge’s new CEO, John Fennelly, told Slator in an exclusive January 2018 interview that they will be “a very, very different company” as he moves forward to shape the future of what is now the second largest language service provider by revenue. Indeed, Lionbridge has been busy hiring new faces to its executive team this year.

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In January this year, Lionbridge picked up its first two top executive hires: Jaime Punishill as new Chief Marketing Officer and Jim Weber as Chief Revenue Officer, which is a newly created role. 

Just recently, on March 14, 2018, the company announced the appointment of Ken Watson as Chief Technology Officer. Five days later, Lionbridge announced two new managing directors. Frank Sannella was appointed Managing Director of the Americas, while Camilla de Villiers was appointed Managing Director of Asia.

Both Sennella and de Villiers share a past at media and information services giant Thomson Reuters with Fennelly, who headed Thomson Reuters’ Wealth Management services business from 2007 to 2014.

Phil Shawe – TransPerfect

Perhaps the most significant story was of an entrepreneur who refused to go anywhere, as TransPerfect’s co-founder Phil Shawe finally succeeded in gaining control of his company, while fellow co-founder Liz Elting walked away with a check worth nearly USD 300m.

Phil Shawe at SlatorCon New York

TransPerfect’s legal saga officially came to a close on May 2018, when the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Chancery’s final judgment to approve the sale of TransPerfect to co-founder (and now sole) CEO Phil Shawe. 

In 2017, the stress of the legal process led to waves of resignations among TransPerfect’s executives, even as the company reported record revenues and ended up topping Slator’s Language Service Provider Index (LSPI).

In light of the sale, however, some of the executives who departed are now returning. According to an internal email by Shawe to TransPerfect employees dated June 11, former CTO Mark Hagerty, former senior tech exec Keith Brazil, former VP of Content Solutions Matt Hauser and former Director of Global Recruitment Nadim Ali are rejoining TransPerfect.

With the legal epic concluded, TransPerfect is back on the acquisition trail, buying San Francisco-based TranslateNow.

Shunichiro Ninomiya – Honyaku Center’s new CEO

Honyaku Center, Japan’s largest language services provider, is reshuffling its board to “strengthen its management base and enhance corporate value,” according to a filing the company sent to the JASDAQ Securities Exchange.

One major change in the company is Executive Officer and Director Shunichiro Ninomiya taking over Ikuo Higashi’s position as President. Higashi is moving on to become Chairman of the Board. Ninomiya officially takes over this month, and Slator will continue covering significant developments as they come.

Morningside Secures Industry Heavyweight as Chairman

On March 15, 2018, Morningside Translations’ Co-CEOs, Tom Klein and Roland Lessard, tapped Dennis Dracup, one of the language industry’s biggest names, to become Chairman of the Board. 

Dennis Dracup

Dracup was formerly the CEO of remote interpreting provider LanguageLine from 1999 to 2011, after which he remained as both Chairman and a significant shareholder. LanguageLine was sold for a hefty USD 1.5bn to French call center operator Teleperformance in 2016.

Germany – New Boss for 1,000 Staff

Legal veteran Dietmar Johannes Zimmer is now the head of Germany’s 1,000 strong Federal Office of Languages, a so-called higher federal authority that reports to the Federal Ministry of Defence.

Operating from more than 60 locations, the Office translates around 170,000 pages and logs over 20,000 hours of interpretation annually, as well as providing foreign language courses to over 15,000 people every year and German lessons to 700 allied armed forces.

Véronique Özkaya Becomes CEO of Xplanation

Belgium-based language service provider Xplanation announced a new CEO in February 2018. 

Véronique Özkaya, who had been Xplanation’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer since 2012, was appointed to the role. Özkaya is a language industry veteran from companies like Moravia, Lionbridge, and Donnelley, and also served as board member and eventually Chairman of the Board of Globalization and Localization Association (GALA). 

Steven van Lint, Xplanation’s previous CEO, has taken up the position of CFO.

Felix Donoso Appointed CEO of MSS

Barcelona-based language service provider MSS – Language & e-Learning Solutions appointed a new CEO in March 2018.

Felix Donoso succeeds founder and former CEO Alvaro Rocabayera as he steps down to focus on strategic business expansion. Donoso informed Slator that his role is focused on consolidating the three main areas of the business: multimedia localization, e-learning, and AI-focused language solutions.

Fox Executive Joins BTI Studios

Media localizer BTI Studios said in a statement that the company appointed veteran 20th Century Fox executive John Koscheka as its new Executive Vice President of Over-the-Top (OTT) Operations. 

The wide-ranging role sees Koscheka overseeing and leading OTT operational staff across BTI Studios, optimizing global OTT operations workflows, as well as coordinating with the sales team and working to support new US-based customers.

ULG’s Kristen Giovanis Graduates to Group CEO

United Language Group (ULG) has reshuffled its executive ranks in a big way this year, appointing a new Group Chief Operating Officer, Group Director of U.S. Operations, and Group Chief Sales Officer between April and June 2018. 

After adding all these Cs to the titles of senior executives, ULG’s owners, private equity firm Northern Pacific Group, might have felt it was time to upgrade Kristen Giovanis’ job title as well.

Since joining ULG as the co-founder of KJ International, which was ULG’s first acquisition after the Merrill spin-off, Giovanis had led the company holding the title of President. In June 2018, she acquired the more senior Group CEO title.

SDI Media Promotes Alberto Abisso as EVP of Europe

Slator reported in January 2018 about another media localizer appointing a new top executive. SDI Media announced the promotion of Alberto Abisso to Executive Vice President in November 2017. 

Abisso joined SDI in 2010 as Senior Vice President of European Operations. He managed and developed the company’s global footprint and service offering across Europe. Abisso’s new role puts him in a significant position to drive business for the company, as Europe is SDI’s biggest localization market with 23 offices and over 750 employees.

Meet and network with senior language industry decision makers at SlatorCon San Francisco on September 13, 2018.

Gino Diño

Content strategy expert and Online Editor for Slator; father, husband, gamer, writer―not necessarily in that order.