Getting to Know Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell

A 10 Minute Interview with Smith Yewell, Welocalize CEO and Co-Founder

As part of our Getting to Know Welocalize blog series, Smith provides a candid interview with Welocalize Communications Manager Louise Law. Here are his words.

You founded Welocalize in 1997, what inspired you to set up the company?

During my time in the U.S. Army, I was stationed in Germany.  I was fortunate to be able to travel all around Europe.  It is not until you live outside the United States that you can appreciate that the whole world does not speak English.  This is how the idea for Welocalize started.  I also really enjoy learning about different cultures and working with people from around the world.  It makes life really interesting.

You have acquired quite a few companies over the past decade to build the Welocalize Group. What is key to a successful acquisition?

Shared values is the key. From that base, trust can be built. And from there, we have been fortunate to retain so many great people from the acquired companies.  Welocalize is a story of extraordinary people from 14 companies all over the world.

Describe your management style.

I have always believed that good management is about the ability to organize and inspire people in a collaborative way to achieve what they believed might not be possible.  We are here to create something really special.  When people say it can’t be done, we do it.

Can you share your vision of what Welocalize should achieve in the next five years?

My vision is to fully realize our personal and company potential, creating an insanely great company: the most-well respected, revered and trusted brand in the industry.

What can’t you live without?


Is there a particular role model who inspires you?

I think there are two types of people: those who accomplish really special things and those who sit around wondering how the other person did it.  The former inspires me.

How many languages can you speak?


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Enjoy it!

What’s the worst bit about being Welocalize CEO?

We have had some hard times over the years during economic downturns and had to cut staff.  That has always been the absolute worst part.

And the best?

Nothing better than seeing folks having fun at their full potential.

Is there a book that has particularly shaped your way of thinking?

Many years ago, Chris Grebisz (Welocalize EVP and General Manager for North America) recommended a book called Endurance, by Alfred Lansing about Shackleton’s voyage to the Antarctic.  It’s a great read. It is a testament to extraordinary leadership against all odds.  Try it out.

Why do you think Welocalize can beat the competition and be the best LSP in the world?

I am convinced that our people have more potential than anyone else out there.  Fully realizing that potential is why I am here.

Welocalize supports a lot of charities, in and out of the localization industry. What drives the Welocalize corporate philanthropy?

Community is a big part of our cultural values.  We care about each other, and we care about the broader communities where we live and work.  We give back because that is the right thing to do.



The Getting to Know Welocalize blog series highlights our team members around the globe and the work they do for our valued clients.  In their words, it gives you a look into how Welocalize’s diversity, culture, and expertise empower us in doing things differently. You can view all here Getting to Know Welocalize posts here:

Getting to Know Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell

Getting to Know Welocalize in Germany – Day in the Life of Antje Hecker, Production Business Director at Welocalize in Germany

Getting to Know Welocalize and Agostini Associati – Day in the Life of Guido Panini, Sales and Marketing Manager at Agostini Associati, a Welocalize Company

Getting to Know Welocalize Quality and Training -A Day in the Life of Liz Thomas, Senior Director of Quality and Training at Welocalize

Getting to Know Welocalize in the United Kingdom – A Day in the Life of Joanna Hasan, Enterprise Program Manager

Getting to Know Welocalize Marketing

Getting to Know Welocalize Business Development Europe – A Day in the Life of Steve Maule, Welocalize Business Development Director in Europe

Getting to Know Welocalize Interns by Louise Donkor, Welocalize Global Marketing and Sales Support

Getting to Know Welocalize Business Development in North America – A Day in the Life of Monique Nguyen

Getting to Know Welocalize in China –An Interview with Alex Matusescu, Director of Operations

Getting to Know Welocalize in Japan -Interview with Kohta Shibayama, Senior Project Manager in Tokyo

Getting to Know Welocalize Development -Interview with Doug Knoll, VP of Software Development at Welocalize

Getting to Know Park IP Translations Operations – A Day in the Life of Nicole Sheehan, Regional Director of Operations at Park IP Translations, a Welocalize Company

Getting to Know Park IP Translations

Getting to Know Welocalize – Ten Interesting Facts You May NOT Know About Welocalize

Getting to Know Welocalize Staffing – A Day in the Life of Brecht Buchheister