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CEO Spotlight: Giovanna Carriero-Contreras, Cesco Linguistic Services

By: Giovanna Carriero-Contreras (Cesco Linguistic Services) - Cesco Linguistic Services, Inc.

24 November 2014

Name: Giovanna Carriero-Contreras
Company: Cesco Linguistic Services, Inc.
Date Established: August 14, 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Company Phone Number: +1 (303) 274-2634
Company E-mail[email protected]
Company Websitewww.cescols.com
Business Hours: 7 AM – 6 PM MST
Number of employees: 11
Breakdown by position: 1 CTO, 1 VP of Translation Services, 1 Translation Project Manager, 1 Office Manager, 1 Resource and Compliance Manager, 1 Senior Interpreting Coordinator, 2 Interpreting Schedulers, 1 Billing Specialist, 2 Data Entry Specialist.

Description of Company Products / Services:
Cesco provides services in three core areas: interpreting, translation and training for interpreters. We also offer ancillary services such as DTP, language consulting, transcription and cross-cultural diversity training.

What is your educational and career background? 
I studied modern foreign languages and literature at the University of Naples "Istituto Orientale" and then took a year off to learn more about what was then called the European Community, now the European Union. I came to Denver in 1998 for a 6-month internship as part of the Italian translation team at a company that was experiencing a lot of growth at the time, J.D. Edwards. That internship turned into a full-time job after about 3 months. When I left, I embarked on my freelance career before starting Cesco in 2004. During this period, I got fantastic hands-on experience in every aspect of localization and was fully immersed in the process, becoming very knowledgeable about QA and testing practices.

How much research did you do before starting your business? 
Very little. I started the business with a friend who had already been an owner of a previous company. So, we really ventured into the new business with whatever tools we had at the time. Now, and history has shown this, we were not very knowledgeable of what we were doing and we did not know the market well enough, so after a year we split and I remained with Cesco. In 2009 I basically re-set everything and dedicated the year to re-establishing connections with our client base and our contractors. Then in 2010 I started looking into opportunities for business coaching. In 2010, through an opportunity at the Denver Hispanic Chamber, I met the person who today is my business coach and I have now been enrolled in the program for 4 years. I have learned a lot of things that just weren’t clicking with me when I was working on my own.

When were you the most discouraged? 
The most discouraged I ever get is when I try to talk to clients and educate them on our profession and best practices and don’t get through. Translation gets a little more respect and understanding than the type of interpreting we work in, which is community interpreting. It is very disheartening when you put all your effort into educating a client to help them see the value of following best practices and you still run into a brick wall.

What makes your business stand out from competitors? 
The culture. Absolutely the culture. All of us at Cesco are motivated by doing the right thing. We may not do that 100% of the time because perfection is a moving target. You learn new things, you are exposed to new challenges. But the culture at Cesco is to strive for doing the right thing. And doing the right thing means doing the right thing by the profession. Whether interpreting, translation, or training, we really try to identify ourselves with the best practices to the risk of losing business sometimes.

What kind of career opportunities does your company offer?
Cesco has grown from a staff of 2.5 people in 2009 to a staff of 12 people today, and we have grown the team in a very strategic way. Each person has a very specific job to perform based on the services we provide. In addition, we now work regularly with more than 250 independent contractors, and there is a lot more opportunity there. I’m sure there are a lot of other agencies that can list many more contractors than we can, but we would like to keep the ones we do work with very busy and add as needed. More staff opportunities will appear as the business grows, but we will not force this.

What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
I don’t really look at myself as an entrepreneur. I do look at myself as a business woman because I am very rooted in my values and I feel very passionate about portraying these same values in the company that I lead. I started this company because I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself and people that continue working with Cesco do so because they see the same thing.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I look at myself and I look at Cesco and feel like we have both come a long way. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary, which is a huge milestone. And it was the people at Cesco that made that happen, so I think they are my greatest achievement. I am just the face of Cesco, but there are lot of people behind me, starting with my husband and my kids and my wonderful team. So, the Cesco team continues to be my greatest achievement because they continue to do greater and greater things.

How can others get started in this business?
First, be passionate. If you are passionate and believe in your product you are already halfway there, but you need to get prepared. Now, looking back on what I would have done differently, if I had spent time learning and studying business before starting Cesco I think the company would have taken a different route. I don’t regret it and wouldn’t change it, but if I could   give advice today to someone I would say, go take a business class, learn about what business is like because money doesn’t come in from the same from one day to another. You need to be able to identify what you need to do to make that money come in as fast as possible. And let’s say that you are lucky and your business grows very fast. Well, you still need to be able to organize and control that because otherwise you won’t have the resources you need in place to sustain that growth.

Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?
For me the culture of the company is very important and I think everyone should have a very clear idea of who they want to affiliate themselves with. So be very clear in your mind about the company culture you want, the mission, the vision, the values. This is something that at the beginning I did not really feel existed. To me mission, vision, and values was always something in writing, never really felt. But when it came to Cesco and creating the team it was clear people were not sticking around because they were not part of the culture, and that was okay because now that culture is a living, breathing thing that naturally attracts like-minded people. It’s just so clear to me – be intentional and deliberate about the culture you want. Don’t wait for it to just happen.