Multilingual employees increasingly in demand

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jun 4 13:34:25 UTC 2007

Boytel, who speaks five languages, has his own business, Loscar LLC, for
international sales. Boytel has a contract with CEI of Wrightstown. He is
shown Friday with a bag of pet food that is made by CEI in Wrightstown,
which will be sold in Mexico. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette  Advertisement

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Posted June 3, 2007

*Multilingual employees increasingly in demand*

Customers 'expect you will speak different languages'

*By Nathan Phelps <nphelps at> **
nphelps at *

For Carlos Boytel, it's all about making business easier for the customer.
Fluent in five languages — English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German —
he's contracted with Coating Excellence International in Wrightstown as that
company's international salesman.

"When you are selling, if you are in the language the buyer speaks … you
make them feel comfortable," he said. "It makes it easier for them. This is
all about making it easy for them so you can generate the sale." Boytel, who
owns Appleton-based Loscar LLC, described his business as "an export
services company."

He estimates about 70 percent of his contacts with foreign customers are
carried out in a language other than English. Most of his work is focused in
Latin America and Europe, but companies in the area play on the global stage
when it comes to business.

"If you are out there selling, they expect you will speak different
languages," Boytel said. Most workers in the United States don't need to
speak or write a second language. But recruiters say some telemarketing,
banking, engineering and financial service companies are looking for workers
and managers with bilingual skills because of the growing immigrant
population in the United States or because they are doing more business in
foreign countries. Mike Nowak, president and co-owner of Coating Excellence
International, said most international business is carried out in English,
but when it comes to technical aspects customers may use their native
language. They do business in about 15 countries around the world.

"You need to have somebody who can speak the language because it's always
easier to explain it in your own language if it's difficult," he said. Nowak
said they also have an employee who speaks Chinese. Mary Bartlett, talent
manager for Arise Virtual Solutions, a call center that provides customer
service for about 40 companies across the country, said about a third of the
independent contractors who work for the company are bilingual, many of them
immigrants or first-generation Americans who grew up speaking the language
of their parents' homelands.

"By far the biggest demand we have is for Spanish. I don't see this trend
slowing down," Bartlett said. "They want someone who can really connect with
the customer."

Mattingly is among an estimated 11 percent of Americans who speak English
and a second language fluently, according to the Census Bureau. Dayna
Romanick, a national recruiter for Manpower Professional, said the Fortune
100 companies she deals with are asking more frequently for managers who
speak Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and other languages. And when it
is not mandatory for some jobs, being bilingual "is icing on the cake."
Nowak said, "When you get down to two or three candidates and one has
language, that's certainly a big plus."

Boytel — a Cuban-born American who has lived in the Fox Valley for the last
25 years — said his range of languages gave him a leg up when carving out a
niche in the business world when he saw an opportunity to combine
engineering and language skills. "The combination of product knowledge plus
the languages differentiate me from other sales people," he said. "What you
have to find out is how can you differentiate yourself from the rest."

When it's important enough, companies will hire people who are not bilingual
then send them to intensive language schools, she said. While speaking a
second language is important to many businesses, the ability to also read
and write in another language can be equally important, especially when
companies or institutions are dealing with complex legal documents or

Kevin Hendzel, spokesman for the American Translators Association, said
demand for skilled people who can read and write in a foreign language is
up. He attributes that to increased international trade and a Clinton
administration executive order that requires federally funded institutions
and agencies to provide bilingual services to clients with limited English

Professional translators and interpreters generally take not only
college-level language classes but also attend professional language schools
that require their students to live in the countries whose languages they
want to become proficient in, he said. "It takes a long time and a lot of
effort to master a language," Hendzel said. An Arizona native, Hendzel is
fluent in Russian thanks to a federal government program during the Sputnik
years when the United States played catch-up in space technology and science
with the Soviet Union.

In addition to putting money into science programs, the U.S. government put
money into intensive language programs to teach Russian to young Americans.
Hendzel attended Georgetown University's Russian language program and then
spent a year in St. Petersburg, Russia. His 6-year-old daughter is already
bilingual, speaking English and Russian. But she may end up trilingual.
She's learning Chinese and seems to enjoy the challenge, he said.
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