When Lisette Poletes joined up with her mother, Hortensia Albertini, to help lead Global LT in 2009, she did so with an air of curiosity.
“Probably for the first eight or nine months I was here, I took an approach where I really just watched what was going on,” Poletes says. “I had to build my own ideas of what I thought was working and not working coming from a different background.”
The numbers show it was time well spent. Global LT, a language training and translation provider, closed 2009 with just more than $9 million in revenue. When 2012 wrapped up, that figure had risen to more than $20 million.
“We’ve had one of the worst economies ever, and we’ve managed to not only survive but thrive,” says Poletes, the 101-employee company’s owner and CEO. “I’m very proud of what the team I work with has done. It’s to their credit.”
Earn employee trust
Poletes joined Global LT with extensive sales and marketing experience from her education at Michigan State University and her prior work experience with Pfizer. But she had not been a part of Global LT, so she had to earn employee trust.
“I wasn’t coming in to take it apart, to sell it, to bring a venture capital firm in,” Poletes says. “I was in it for the long haul.”
Words are one thing, but Poletes backed it up with action.
She invested in new accounting systems and customer relations databases and elevated employees who had worked hard into management positions. She also instituted a profit-sharing program for employees.
“We basically put a plan in place where I don’t take a dividend out of the company if they don’t all get paid,” Poletes says. “It’s fostering that environment where we all feel like we’re in this together.”
Make use of good ideas
Poletes does not need to be the lead voice on every new idea at Global LT.
“We’ve done a lot of different things based on someone saying, ‘This process doesn’t work,’ or, ‘This works in my department,’” Poletes says. “My response is, ‘Let’s make it a best practice and see if we can make it work across all departments.’”
A great example is the suggestion that was made to bring together the people who recruit teachers and translators around the world for the company’s language training department under one leader.
“It was something that had been tossed around in the past, but she came up with a great proposal and a great plan, and we said, ‘Let’s try it,’” Poletes says. “That’s probably been in place the last two or three months and seems to be working well. It may be that we move all our talent to do the entire recruiting under one giant umbrella instead of just for language.”
Keep pushing ahead
As Poletes looks to the future, she sees endless growth opportunities for Global LT’s language services in emerging markets such as China and Brazil. She also sees opportunity in the government sector.
“We just obtained our GSA certification, which allows us to go after government contracts,” Poletes says. “That will be a brand-new focus that has a ton of potential growth.”
And you can be sure that her employees will be part of the pursuit of those new opportunities.
“If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the way it was,” Poletes says. “But you can’t move forward unless we try these new ideas and who better to come up with them than the people who do the work every day?”
How to reach: Global LT, (888) 645-5881 or www.global-lt.com