When your competitor starts recommending you to potential clients, then you know it must be magic. And if you’ve never had to do any sort of sales pitch and you can just rely on word of mouth, then again, rest assured, your product must be particularly outstanding.
Sometimes there are teams that work exceptionally together. From Hewlett & Packard to Ben & Jerry, these extraordinary mergers have just the right amount of yin and yang to pull off perfection. Occasionally, things just fall into place and you have an aha moment that leads you to right where you are supposed to be. And you wonder perhaps what took you so long to get there. You can’t imagine how it possibly was before. It just always was. The innovative and ingenious partnership of Emily Gibbons and Carrie McKinnon is just this – a perfectly oiled machine of a small business with two fearless women at the realm of its groundbreaking agenda of teaching English Communication & Business Soft Skills in Morocco.
‘language coaching of specifically-tailored classes
that address the client’s precise needs.’
Friends and partners, some say it can never work. This time, though, it works like a charm. At times, the pair talks like an old married couple; cheerfully taking humorous shots at each other. Clearly, playful banter between the pair and not taking themselves too seriously are part of the reasons behind their success. However, this spirited alliance knows when to get down to business and create something that is truly unprecedented and inspiring. And all kidding aside, there is a real mutual respect between these two strong women and co-founders. This natural chemistry came together in 2013 when Carrie and Emily, both solid professionals in their own fields, met through mutual friends and immediately realized the potential new market direction that they could fuse together.
Emily, native of Ireland, whose skilled background includes more than twenty years in Industrial Manufacturing, was looking for an engaging change of pace. Oh, and she also happened to be highly experienced in Financial Accounting, Production, Sales and Supply Chain Management. Emily has a long list of booming international brands with which she has worked, including Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Adidas, Nike, Marks & Spencer and many more. Lastly, she brings essential business and soft skills coaching and mentoring experience to her immense record of expertise. It was the beginning of a revelation and a bold movement toward a different approach to teaching foreign language.
Carrie, an American citizen, has years of experience as an international programs director both in Morocco and the United States, as well as a master’s degree in global higher education and an undergraduate degree in applied linguistics. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, she was a young and driven Director of International Programs at Kaplan Test Preparation before moving to Morocco in 2009. Upon her move Carrie joined the International University of Casablanca, ‘Université Internationale de Casablanca’, as the International Programs Director for 4 years before co-founding Locus English. In her time at UIC she was a part of the flagship team that sought and received approval in one of the first state-accredited private higher education institutions in Morocco. Carrie’s areas of expertise are in program leadership & development, content creation, teaching, standardized testing, education technology, and mindful education.
The gutsy pair saw and identified an opportunity and a need in Morocco for a groundbreaking way to teach English ‘soft skills’ and communication methods, to business professionals. Their backgrounds in industry and education meshed precisely. What they saw, at the time, was that English teaching to professionals was limited; it missed a key element for success in a fluid, competitive business world. This essential factor is language coaching of specifically-tailored classes that address the client’s precise needs.
‘We were industry insiders from the beginning.
Yet we brought something different,
something incredibly unique to the experience.’
This ‘little’ company went from zero to 100 almost immediately as the largest international company in Morocco hired Locus English from the start. To this day, they are still faithful clients of Carrie and Emily’s. As Carrie puts it simply, ‘They trusted and believed in us from day one.’
Their trailblazing approach is a non-traditional and hands-on communication-based coaching approach. Carrie clarifies further, ‘Our methodology is freshly unique. We test or take on every possible scenario. We make the teaching about the learners particular needs. We have found a way to replicate that into a business model and because we ourselves are language and communication coaches, we never ask our Locus English coaches to teach anything we wouldn’t teach a client’. Emily describes further, ‘The business world is seeing a fascinating shift to requiring soft skills. We offer real-life scenarios and role-play situations. Our sage facilitators are required to have teaching and corporate backgrounds-it is the perfect mix for success in the business world. Many of our instructors are former headhunters, entrepreneurs, and government employees. They’re already experts in the business world. They have combined skills of teaching and business training and this unique combination is something that has never been merged before.’
Carrie adds to the conversation, ‘We offer everything from one-on-one executive coaching for professionals with specific needs to carefully-tailored courses on pronunciation and accent coaching, as well as immersion courses. The beauty of our company is that no one else does what we do; we custom-build distinctive classes depending on any need in English. We aim to sharpen and perfect our clients’ grasp of professional English in the corporate world.’
Locus English has grown tremendously over the past five years; now offering unconventional, revolutionary courses all over the country, from the northern town of Tangiers, to the southern city of Marrakech. The company effectively works with everyone from embassies to renowned international corporations. Their success is clearly palpable.
When I ask from where their accomplishments stem, Emily responds confidently, ‘We were industry insiders from the beginning. Yet we brought something different, something incredibly unique to the experience. We could see right away what was missing in the world of pedagogy and it became our mission to be the forerunners for change in the process of teaching.’ Carrie adds, ‘We knew that we could have an impact on people and how people learn English in the professional world.’ The company, they explain, strives to bring in the most relevant, modern training, methods and trends to the table. ‘We always want to be on our toes,’ laughs Carrie. ‘That is, we are passionate about always bettering ourselves. We are proud to be the only ones who offer such stellar, signature services.’
‘no one else does what we do;
we custom-build distinctive classes
depending on any need in English’
Locus English’s quest is undeniably effective. Massive, globally-known corporations such as IKEA, Renault, Siemens, and BNP Paribas, amongst a stellar list of many others, successfully use the ingenious, creative services of this empowering company. Most importantly, the pair feels strongly about their authenticity. ‘We don’t just come with a look’, says Carrie earnestly. We are an experienced team who is heavily invested in Morocco.’ In fact, both women have been here more than a decade; Emily for 16 years. She continues, ‘Our families and lives are here. We are devoted to running this innovative business here. We are also solidly invested in having Moroccans thrive on our team. Our administrative staff is entirely young, dynamic Moroccan talent.’
On that note, giving back to the community is a key element of Locus English’s visionary mission. Currently, the team is deploying soft skills training for public university students and teachers, throughout Morocco. The program is called ‘The Soft Skills Road Show’ and it is a first of its kind, where Locus English is training employability skills in Career Centers located in public universities in Tangier, Casablanca, and Marrakech. The program is funded by the United States Mission to Morocco and Locus English speaks of the joy of being able to take what they have learned from their executive clients to the public sector. These are the types of bold initiatives this innovative company is passionate about expanding and deepening.
Where do these strong leaders see their company in five years? Carrie ponders and says thoughtfully, yet assuredly, ‘We intend Locus English to become more of a household name.’ She goes on, ‘Right now, we are more of a niche name, but our goal is to be widely known for being the experts in progressive English teaching in the professional area.’ And of course, she adds, as any venturesome CEO would say, ‘We haven’t reached our target yet; we still have goals for ourselves and we are always growing and evolving.’ This includes visions of Ted Talks and even mindfulness seminars in the work environment. Because, why not better oneself in innovative ways in the work environment and in spirit? The two are undoubtedly linked, in the progressive eyes of Locus English’s mission. Clearly, this clever tao works for Emily, Carrie and Locus English. The sky is the limit, and clearly, their focus is transparent. The future is shining and in the spotlight for this revolutionary team.