In her keynote speech at SlatorCon Remote on March 22, 2023, Argos Multilingual CEO, Véronique Özkaya, told attendees how she brought her vision and strategy to the company, and how a rapid succession of significant changes in approach and structure resulted in fast growth.
The presentation, titled “Adapting to the Winds of Change: The Power of the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Today’s Business Landscape,” began with Özkaya’s looking back at May 2020: pandemic lockdown time found the then new Argos CEO in Martinique, far from everything and everyone. Having to reach out to 140 employees across a screen with a message of open-mindedness was the beginning of many challenges (and, later on, as many rewards).
At that time, Özkaya knew Argos was a profitable company. However, she also knew it was at a point where something was needed to drive growth to the next level. Reflecting on her own background against that need, she knew she “would fit more in a kind of CSO, Chief Sales Officer, Chief Revenue Officer marketing type profile,” and focused on client relationships as step one of a transformation.
Enthusiasm and Skepticism
A few key elements of Özkaya‘s strategy were met with enthusiasm by some and skepticism by others, but they centered around growth, diversifying, investing more in people (which included the creation of a new HR unit), and investing in technology. Many initiatives were also put in place, informed by a company-wide employee survey.
To Özkaya, turning a production-centric organization into a client-centric one involves understanding not just the clients’ localization goals, something Argos was good at doing already, but rather their overall goals. To accomplish that, the CEO and her team revisited their sales process and programs, and reviewed accounts with the participation of everyone involved, “not just the salesperson responsible,” as she put it.
In 2021, Argos made several acquisitions congruent with the key elements in Özkaya’s strategy. At the same time, a series of internal changes were taking place at a level that shifted not only the way people worked, but also how they worked with others. Reflecting on this, the CEO told attendees “You need to get influencers inside” and have an “intrapreneurial spirit.”
Özkaya also mentioned that having the right balance of talent is critical and that this is a continuous effort at Argos. She emphasized that people are the most important part of a services company.
That focus extends to people who come to the company by way of acquisitions, about whom she said “you have to respect the past and be very aware that these companies didn’t get to where they got and became attractive to you for buying them unless they have amazing things that they had done … and also respecting your own company’s past.”
In closing, Özkaya spoke about the need for alignment. “You can’t force things, but you’re going to try and get people to share this vision that you have for the business. And then when they see that it’s right, it’s very energizing, right, and they do even better.”