At Certified Languages ​​International, communication plays a central role: Top Workplaces 2021



Certified Languages ​​International staff pride themselves on their communication, both in their work and in the workplace.

The nearly 25-year-old company provides interpretation, or live-to-speech translation, services in 234 languages, primarily to approximately 6,500 clients in the hospital and healthcare industries, with others in finance, insurance and education. A call center connects clients to more than 4,500 freelance contract interpreters.

The company has won the Oregonian / OregonLive Top Workplaces competition seven times, now in its 10th year.

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Certified Languages ​​International, headquartered in Portland with a second location in Phoenix, Arizona, achieved annual revenue of nearly $ 50 million in 2020 and expects revenue of $ 55 million. dollars in 2021, CEO Kristin Quinlan said. It has a diverse workforce of around 250 people – 65% female and 70% non-white.

Interpretation work is remote by nature, but Certified Languages ​​International has yet to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. The once robust call center has grown to over 200 individual home offices.

The pandemic also posed the challenge of how to continue the company’s culture of open communication and Quinlan’s practice of keeping his office door open, when employees were not in the same physical space.

Company management spoke to staff over the phone, presented employee service awards, organized a ‘team week’, provided the necessary technology, and spread the word about the family. always first.

“The pandemic has shown us that we can really work successfully in this new hybrid world,” Quinlan said. “We can, like most companies, no longer expand our footprint while continuing to grow our business. “

Certified Languages ​​International CEO Kristin Quinlan (left) and Jen Keyes, director of corporate communications, talk about the company’s advocacy work.Randy L. Rasmussen / For The Oregonian / OregonLive

Her father, Bill Graeper, whom she described as a serial entrepreneur, started the business in 1996. She became CEO in 2006 after holding other jobs at Certified Languages ​​International – years after saying to her father that she would only fill a part-time need at the company.

Staff members are encouraged to explore their interests within the company, said Elizabeth Garvin, director of human resources, who started in the accounting department in 2001. Encouraging upward and lateral mobility maintains high retention rates – more than 50% of the people who work on the administrative side started in the call center.

“If you want to try something and show good skills, we’re going to allow you to try it and help you achieve it,” she said.

Quinlan said, “We really believe in the individual, whether they are at the call center level or whether they are a senior manager. “

Garvin said all employees kept their jobs even when the company experienced a drop in call volume during the pandemic, due to customers navigating their options remotely and canceling in-person visits. Company executives wanted to make sure employees were safe, both financially and healthily.

“At the end of the day, whatever the crisis is, we are going through it,” Garvin said. “And we do it together. Whether it’s a pandemic or people’s personal lives, they are supported by them. “

Focusing on corporate culture is more important than ever, said Jen Keyes, director of communications. Virtual coffee breaks where work was a forbidden topic connected staff during a time when pandemic fatigue was at its height.

Ultimately, everyone at Certified Languages ​​International is passionate about what they do. Interpretation services help make the country fairer, Keyes said.

“Being able to communicate in your own language is a human right,” she said.

Certified Languages ​​International employee sits in front of two computer screens

Jay Habovstak, operations trainer at Certified Languages ​​International, is working on training a new employee.Randy L. Rasmussen / For The Oregonian / OregonLive

Coming from years of working in call centers in other industries, Jay Habovstak discovered a unique culture from his first day at Certified Languages ​​International. It was visited and presented to all the executives of the office. This culture has remained the same over the years.

Habovstak worked his way up to train new call center employees in three and a half years. He feels rewarded by sharing the same feeling with others, he said.

“I want them to be excited about their work and I want them to know how important their work is,” he said. “I need them to know what they are doing for the community.

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