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How speaking multiple languages has helped one CPO to thrive

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
How Speaking Multiple Languages Has Helped One Cpo To Thrive

Speaking another language can help to connect better with other people and cultures, and according to Middlebury Language Schools, it can even improve memory, brain function, and multitasking ability.

Nicole Karagiannis, Harrison.ai’s chief people and culture officer, is trilingual and has used this talent to advance her career.

“English is my third language after Arabic and French. And I think for me, the biggest realisation, and I’m really grateful for that, is the empathy of what that brings for me in terms of how I lead and how I promote what HR is and what looking after our people looks like from a diversity point of view,” said Ms Karagiannis.


“So that’s been a big experience in terms of being able to utilise not just my own language, but the empathy and the resilience and the discipline that comes from having migrated countries. That’s powerful. And that’s something I draw on all the time.”

Having an understanding of three different languages has allowed Ms Karagiannis to better connect with candidates and clients and also has allowed her to promote diversity.

“It’s about being able to have the respect for different cultures and celebrating our differences, something we are hugely focused on from a diversity point of view,” outlined Ms Karagiannis.

“The biggest experience I can draw on is when, in another organisation, worked on recruiting refugees, and the onboarding and the work that goes into making sure that they are welcomed in the workplace and that they are part of the story.”

Ms Karagiannis said that being trilingual has even boosted her communication skills.

“The biggest link to being trilingual is understanding the art of communication. And so knowing that for me, given my background, I don’t have the vocabulary of fancy words, which has been actually a strength, and it’s been part of the feedback that I’ve received over the years,” she said.

Ms Karagiannis continued: “It’s the ability to simplify concepts and to not overcomplicate HR initiatives or HR ideas and being able to communicate with ease. For busy leaders who are busy with finances or running a business and so on, their capacity to give you attention for an HR initiative is much smaller than yours because you’re living that day in, day out.”

“Whereas the ability to simplify into something that is much smaller but impactful has actually been one of my biggest strengths. And reflecting on why, it would have to be the importance of language and the fact that I’ve had to learn to communicate effectively with sometimes simple words.”

While learning another language may not be a possibility for many people, Ms Karagiannis explained that the use of simple English will be appreciated. Lose the fancy words and try to connect with colleagues.

“Drawing from all of that is the importance of writing policies or processes or presentations in such a simple plain language way and being able to break those concepts down for people whose English isn’t their first language. That’s critical always.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Nicole Karagiannis on 8 February is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.




Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.