Entrepreneur, angel investor and female role model, Karine Allouche Salanon –EDHEC Master 1997– believes in the power of technology to change lives by increasing access to English and opening the global conversation to all.
From as far as she can remember, Karine Allouche Salanon has been attracted to digital technology. “I had a family connection as my uncle was an Apple distributor. I got an Apple IIe computer when I was a kid and I was fascinated as I learned very basic coding that got my name to fill in on the screen. Digital has been there throughout my career and life. I even bought my house online without physically seeing it.” Today, the alumnus of EDHEC Master 1997 is using digital to help corporate customers better connect their international teams in her role as owner and CEO of GlobalEnglish, a Silicon Valley education technology company.
“GlobalEnglish was born digital,” she says. “We launched the first eLearning for Business English at a time when many companies were still debating whether to give their employees internet access to do their jobs. Digital technology enables us to provide scalable access to quality learning. One thing you can’t buy is time; technology is a way to do more with that finite resource.” A conviction evidently applied to her own life by this spouse, mother, triathlete, angel investor, female role model and mentor.
Karine’s career in technology began while still a student at EDHEC, working in sales at Symantec France during her second year. The following year was spent as an exchange student in Los Angeles earning an MBA in international marketing. After graduating, she joined Oracle where she managed channel marketing and channel recruitment in Southern Europe. During eight years at Microsoft, she led the CRM business launch and expansion in Central Eastern Europe, before moving to company headquarters in Seattle, Washington, where she managed a $1 billion global mobility, communication and collaboration business. In 2013, Karine joined Pearson to lead its education digitalization business, formed after Pearson acquired GlobalEnglish in 2012. In November 2016, she headed a management buyout of the business, re-establishing GlobalEnglish as an independent company.
Under Karine’s leadership, GlobalEnglish is looking to triple in size in the next three years, optimizing the combination of technology and human interaction to respond to each customer company’s specific Business English needs. “We’re expert at unpacking exactly what they’re looking for and delivering customized turnkey solutions. This can range from helping their top talent to succeed, supporting business process outsourcing operations in India or preparing a manufacturing floor team who need English for a once-a-year audit. By acting as problem solvers for our customers, we become true partners, a differentiating quality.” Innovation is another key to continued success. “We’re leveraging AI and 20 years of data to build the next generation of learning that blends the right level of digital and human learning for optimal outcomes,” says Karine. “In doing so, we’re able to ensure learning achievement at an accessible price.”
Investing in people
Karine speaks with passion about her company’s mission to give every global worker the ability to contribute by delivering products and solutions that remove language and cultural barriers: “English changes people’s lives and enables them to join the global conversation.” She is equally passionate about supporting and mentoring other women. Describing herself as “shocked” by the low number of women entrepreneurs able to successfully access funding, she joined the Pipeline Fellowship, which teaches others how to be an angel investor. Karine also funds female-led social startups such as Blendoor.com, a technology app that reduces unconscious bias in hiring by hiding personal identity data irrelevant to a candidate’s merits. Another, Flowerapp.com helps friends and family members be a strong and effective support network to a loved one experiencing major life moments such as health difficulties. Recognized by San Francisco’s French-American Chamber of Commerce with its 2017 Female Role Model award, she’d rather talk about her experience serving as a member of the judging panel and presenting this year’s award. “We were looking for women that not only act as a role model but are creating a successful path and working to inspire other females.”
A passion for changing lives
Most recently, she launched “Voice For All,” supporting English learners from around the globe to unleash their full potential and empower them to find a better life. For each license purchased, GlobalEnglish donates a license and collaborates with NGOs and non-profit organizations to open new opportunities for those in need, including refugees and displaced females. “English drives growth and international development,” she says. “We believe that success should be driven by ability and ambition, not bias or birthright. By giving back, we seek to drive impacts not only with our customers but also with communities.”
This article was first published on Otherwise magazine (#7 issue). If you enjoyed reading it, subscribe here and receive the next issue for free!