“Physical and Emotional Hygiene is More Important Than Ever” Words of Wisdom with Karine Allouche Salanon, CEO of GlobalEnglish
“Your ability to represent an abundance of energy and be centered is part of your job. Since I became CEO, triathlon and healthy living have been my best friends. For two weeks, I could not eat well or exercise as I was on the road. This impacted my ability to handle the difficult problems and questions. I was far from where I wanted it to be. Daily routine makes wonders.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Karine Allouche Salanon, CEO of GlobalEnglish. Based in San Mateo, California, GlobalEnglish is a leader in technology-empowered Business English learning experiences
What is your “backstory”?
I was first attracted to technology because my beloved uncle was an Apple distributor. He encouraged me to program on my first Apple IIe with a few fun games. Then life kept making me more and more passionate about technology. Very quickly I realized that there I some key asset in life: Time, and that asset is limited. Technology was the way to be able to do more with that finite resource.
Attracted by one of the industry’s largest players, I joined Oracle. I held various managerial roles in channel management. Then I joined Microsoft, as its mission and its leader’s purpose resonated so much with me. I stayed eight years. I left from a role at the Seattle HQ where I managed a $1B global business. At that time, it was clear I could bring my learnings to others. GlobalEnglish emerged as the right opportunity at the right time. Wonderful team, with a product that changes people’s lives — and as a non-Native English speaker, I could relate to the GlobalEnglish solutions personally!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading GlobalEnglish?
The first CEO I reported to announced that I would take the reins of the business 10 days prior to our global company kickoff where over 100 people from all over the world are coming together for an annual gathering.
The two sales VPs at the time, were preparing for an interesting arrival at the kickoff. They were going to jump out of a plane and land at the welcome reception.
When my new role was announced, we discussed how we could make me be part of it. They initially suggested to create video showing me pushing them out of the plane. I thought, what leader would actually introduce themselves as someone pushing their managers into the void. I told them, would either jump with them, or be the first one jumping.
So I jumped first. When I landed on Coronado Beach and met the team for the first time it was an incredible feeling! Meeting my new team didn’t feel nearly as risky than it would have without the risk of jumping out of plane.
How exactly does GlobalEnglish help people?
GlobalEnglish empowers people and organizations to join the global conversation. We deliver products and solutions that remove language and cultural barriers to give every global worker the ability to contribute and thrive in the connected-21st century.
For the last 20 years, GlobalEnglish, improved the communication skills of three million people. For organizations that employ them, they gain in productivity, can reach out to new markets, and can gain competitive edge by unleashing the potential of every single person in their organizations, wherever they are, whatever cultural background they have. For the learners, many get promotions, more mobility in assignments or opportunities that were out of reach prior to learning English.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our team is fired up because we change people’s lives. Let me tell you the story of Rajashekar. GlobalEnglish helped empower Rajashekar to grow from being a tea boy to become a HR training manager. He was selected as a participant of the GlobalEnglish pilot program run by his company. He Initially found learning daunting, because of his memories of his educational background. With the digital learning platform, he started to see progress and was amazed by the feedback from his managers and peers. Learning gave him a thrill and enhanced his curiosity to learn more. And as he felt more important and valued it motivated him to learn and grow. He finally found the courage to resume his studies and now he acts as a role model for others!
Images and video available at https://globalenglish.com/rajashekars-story/
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
It takes a village. Really. There are three key groups of people who made me who I am today.
First, it is all about what you are provided when being raised. I had a wonderful role model in my mum, showing resilience in everything she did and unconditional love which made feel secure at doing anything I wanted!
Then I have the mentors who made me learn on the job. I had the chance to work with extraordinary leaders who pushed me but also who made me realize I needed to be more appreciative of everything I do and celebrate along the way — this is how we can keep sustainable performance and enable your team to join the journey.
Finally, your day to day support team as I call it. As a female leader and having my husband being an executive too, our community of friends, neighbors, our wonderful au pair makes that we can be thrive for a balance at home with my two kids and our working life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As I shared, the sole purpose of a company is to find a great way to give back. However, I am particularly interested in helping other women gain more access to leadership roles.
One of the challenge for female entrepreneur is access funding, so I became an angel investor for female led for-profit social ventures. I also mentor women leaders, and participate in groups that support women entrepreneurs, and generally find ways for women to inspire other women in business.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why?
- Do not expect anyone to thank you for what you do.
Your team, your customers and your stakeholders are all expecting something from you. Even if you are taking hard decisions which could save jobs, save a customer or create an event that could secure the company’s future.
- Shit goes up.The decisions you have to make are never black or white — you will always live in a kind of grey zone. Most of the decisions coming from my desk are there because nobody could take them before. This one time, where few team members were going to be let go because of the sluggish local economy they operate in, the end date was changing from Nov 30 and Dec 30. There were both business and personal upside and downsize to any of those dates without a real winner. The data points were pretty subjective. You need to take a breath, put everything on the table and make your best bet. At the end you are accountable.
3. Physical and emotional hygiene is more important than ever — Your ability to represent an abundance of energy and be centered is part of your job.
Since I became CEO, triathlon and healthy living have been my best friends. For two weeks, I could not eat well or exercise as I was on the road. This impacted my ability to handle the difficult problems and questions. I was far from where I wanted it to be. Daily routine makes wonders.
4. There is a before and after being a CEO. It is like having kids, your life will change but in a good way. People thinking you are getting more freedom by being the CEO are wrong. You are the face of your company and everyone wants a piece of you. All of a sudden everyone is more dependent on you and you see it! It is about meeting the team to keep morale up, be out and representing the company in key events, and so many more demands where you know your presence will make a difference.
5. Be ready to have all eyes are on you and you need to be intentional all the times.
One day one of my children was facing bullying issues at school. I must have looked more worried than usual. A few days later I started getting questions about the health of our company. It seems my worried look made the team think our business was in trouble.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Anthony Robbins. I have been a fan of his work for almost a decade. Tony Robbins is a living example of smart and gets results. He walks his talk. He’s a powerful combination of action, passion, and commitment to continuous improvement. When it comes to unleashing your best, Tony Robbins sets the bar. A brainstorm on how I can increase the impact of what my company and I can do would be amazing.