A Personal Touch

by Marianne Tan
Photography by Chino Sardea, assisted by Tracey Nguyen
Styling by CK Koo
Grooming by Zoel Tee using Laura Mercier and Keune
01 Sep 2021

Even as the world becomes increasingly transformed by digitalisation, Nicholas Goh, CEO of Verztec Consulting believes in the deeply personal, human side of business.

Long before the pandemic shuttered borders and forced companies to take a long, hard look at its operating strategy, CEO of Verztec Consulting, Nicholas Goh, was already a big proponent of leveraging the power of technology to digitalize work processes and eliminate barriers for global companies to succeed in local markets. 

T-shirt, cardigan, blazer, and trousers by Brunello Cucinelli

The company, which was set up by Goh during the boom of the early 2000s, started out designing websites for companies that wanted to build their digital presence, but soon branched out into translation services when Goh realised that there would be a demand amongst multinational companies to localize their communications strategy as they grew their digital presence. 

For this epiphany, Goh credits the company’s first big project with French engine lubricant manufacturer Motul, which hired Verztec to revamp and translate its French website into English and seven Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Malay. Motul also indicated its preference to work with just one vendor, instead of seven separate ones. 

With an expanded suite of services, Verztec went on to clinch numerous high-profile gigs that sealed the company’s dominance in the global communications space over the next few years. In 2009, for example, it employed a team of 24 interpreters that worked around the clock to provide instantaneous interpretation services at the 17th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting, which was attended by then-United States President Barack Obama. 

Today, with ten offices around the world, it supports a third of the world's Fortune 500 Corporations, including IBM, HP, Microsoft and Citibank, in their global communication needs. It also ranks 28th on the Top 100 Language Service Providers in the Global Market Study 2021, an annual survey of the global language services and technology market conducted by American industry research firm Common Sense Advisory.



Digitalisation in the Age of Covid

Verztec’s business strategy is of course, one that served the company well when travel restrictions and work-from-home arrangements were put in place around the world at the onset of the pandemic. With surging demand in areas like e-commerce, digital marketing, and digital learning, business at Verztec thrived. 

“[The pandemic] was a wake-up call for many companies around the world that building resilience using technology was important for survival,” says Goh. Projects that called for Verztec to build, implement, and host online learning courses and to provide translation services for course material and e-commerce web content, amongst other communications material, rolled in. 

One of the big projects that went Verztec’s way was one from a New York Stock Exchange-listed pharmaceutical company that engaged the company to fully digitize and localize its suite of workshop courses comprising employee induction programs and modules in regulatory compliance, leadership development, and product training. The directive: To transform and translate what used to be course material for full-day physical seminars with trainers traveling from country to country for training sessions, into 100 or so online courses that could be completed in a couple of hours, in seven Asian languages. 

Goh adds: “Verztec also bagged a number of retainer contracts to support some of the fast growing e-commerce companies of the regions in terms of translating their web content into various languages – product descriptions, marketing communications, videos, articles, and so on.”

As it worked to help others adapt to the digital-first way of business, Verztec also had to ensure that the company was able to stay nimble in the face of digital changes of its own. This meant ensuring all staff were equipped with the appropriate digital tools and skills for business to continue securely even as they worked remotely, and finding new means to communicate and collaborate virtually for projects.

Finding the right manpower to manage the increase in workload also proved to be a challenge. “It has been tough for us to find people with the right technical skill sets and the right attitude, since experienced software developers are highly sought after by Big Tech companies. Overall costs of hiring have also gone up,” Goh says.


Looking to the Future

These were all necessary hurdles that the company had to learn to manage, as more companies become increasingly reliant on technology in new areas of their business models. In particular, Goh sees immense potential in the Chinese market. 

“Currently, we work with a handful of top companies in China, such as ByteDance [which owns TikTok], Huawei, Tencent, China Life, among others. But if you look at the Shanghai Stock Exchange, there is so much potential there,” he explains. “As China takes on the global market, many of its companies are starting to internationalize, and in a big way – in terms of their digital content, business communication, and others. That’s also our focus for the translation business.”

Verztec aims to eventually onboard more Grade-A Chinese companies that have plans to go global – to be “their language partner and digital learning partner of choice”. 

Shirt and suit by Hugo

Acquisitions is also on the company’s roadmap for expansion. “We are looking at deep-tech companies in the area of Neural Machine Translation Technology to improve the efficiency of our Translation Services Business Unit, as well as companies that specialize in innovative digital training systems.”

He adds: “Over the years, we have been growing organically and have been achieving a steady minimum of 20 per cent revenue growth year-on-year, so we are not in rushing to raise capital for expansion. However, we do not rule out taking in possible private equity investments or listing in a couple of years’ time.”


The Human Side of Business

Digital transformation in the workplace can lead to increasingly impersonal experiences, especially for a company like Verztec that is on the forefront of driving this transformation. Goh’s strong belief in giving back to the community, in particular, disadvantaged children and vulnerable elderly, keeps the company deeply tapped into its human side.

Since 2008, the company has adopted Life Community Services Society (LCSS), which provides intervention programs for children from underprivileged backgrounds, as its charity partner. Pre-COVID, it also worked regularly with St Vincent's Home, a shelter for the elderly, to organize visits. Today, Goh himself serves as Chairman of LCSS, and is a Finance Committee Member of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre. 

“When the pandemic started, we furbished a number of laptops and computers to orphanages here in Singapore and overseas. We do have plans to continue this and in time, may also put in place volunteering opportunities and off-in-lieu for our staff to provide free digital coaching to our charity beneficiaries.”

Goh summarises the company’s CSR strategy: “Charity is a marathon and not a sprint. Transforming lives takes time and it is a long-term commitment.”

Ultimately, it’s the simple, human joys that Goh relishes. “I love meeting new people and connecting my friends and business associates whenever I see the right fit. Over the years, I have seen so many business ventures and successful partnerships happen because I helped my friends connect and something good came out of it.”

“I have learnt to find happiness in the simple things, such as spending time with my family and loved ones, and to make health a priority. I exercise regularly, eat healthily, and keep a positive mind.”

After all, he quips: “What's the point of being the most successful and richest person in the graveyard?”