Language Stars Reviews | Glassdoor

Language Stars Reviews

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Matt Kinnich
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Great company culture- Collaborative environment, senior management is always open to feedback and exploring new ideas" (in 4 reviews)

  • "Language Stars is a smart concept run by passionate people" (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • "low pay and no growth opportunities" (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Good Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Language Stars full-time

    Pros

    I enjoyed my time at Language Stars. Leadership and team members were passionate about providing value to students, highly collaborative and always trying to make a difference in students’ and co-workers’ lives. Unfortunately, the business model could not be run profitably and the owners had to shut the business down. I’m now looking for a job, but I understand the need to shut the business down.

    Cons

    The business is no longer operating.


  2. Helpful (4)

    "A Tarnished Legacy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Language Stars full-time

    Pros

    The people that actually did the work at Language Stars were amongst the most dedicated and motivated professionals that I have had the privilege of working with.

    Cons

    This company was largely stuck in the 1990’s and early 2000’s in many ways. The infrastructure, curriculum, technology, and leadership was dated and dusty. Innovation had stopped a LONG time ago and the leadership lacked the vision to fulfill the potential that this idea and company once held. This alone probably wasn’t enough to undo the company as there wasn’t much in the way of competition. What really sunk the company was the big bang roll out of the DC market, which put a strain on the company’s resources at a time that the market in Chicago was maturing. That, coupled with the inability or inexperience of the founding leadership team in scaling a business, resulted in a buy out that sought out new leadership.

    The two leaders that took over after that happened didn’t have sufficient resources, the passion, or experience to undo or fix the strain that the company had been put under. Neither of these two leaders were bad people, and probably did what they thought was best, but unfortunately, after the initial leadership team stepped down with the company basically operating at a substantial loss, the company lived a hand to mouth existence, and could only survive on capital injections from the investment group. The second leadership team, had to enact necessary austerity measures to try and preserve the company which alienated it from long standing and existing employees whom had been sold a utopian dream that had been funded by incurring unsustainable debt. The unavoidable measures they took resulted in a coup, which replaced the second leadership team with the final leadership team.

    Whereas the second leadership team, not a perfect one by any stretch of the imagination, had been more pragmatic, the final leadership team was more theoretical and detached from what was happening in centers. I feel that the company could still have been salvaged at the point that had the that team took control of the company tried harder to intimately understand the ins and outs of the business that they agreed to turn around. The leadership began to operate in what could largely be described as an echo chamber and many of the people who could have been instrumental in turning the company around often had their ideas dismissed by a haughty leader who liked to show people how smart they were instead of distilling what was being said. They ran the company like a business school project, and now it has become just that, a case study on the wrong way to run the business.

    Ultimately the leader failed because they largely abdicated their responsibility as a leader. Instead of leading, they often failed to make important decisions, instead displacing their responsibility onto subordinates or ruling by committee in order not to be held responsible for the potential negative effect of any given initiative or decision. Instead of focusing on ways to improve short term results to buy enough time to keep the company afloat in the long term, the leader chose to focus on initiatives better suited to companies that were larger and more stable. A byproduct of this leadership style was an increase in turn over at all levels, which had already been high, but then became astronomical and unlike anything I have experienced in my professional career.

    By the time I left the company, the standards that the company had for its product and people and slipped so much that it was hard to watch, especially knowing how much the people who did the real work cared. They needed a leader and leadership, but it wasn’t there. The centers looked dingy, the quality of the instruction and curriculum was largely a shell of what it had been, and the people working there didn’t feel appreciated.

    I know a lot of people are under the impression that the CEO had a say in the company’s closure or that at a minimum, was fully aware that it was going to happen, but I am not convinced of this. I don’t think he is that type of person. A jerk, maybe, but a thief and fraudster, hardly. This company hasn’t been profitable for a very long time and no one was stacking cash in a swiss bank account contrary to what we’d all like to believe. This was a company that was struggling to survive after a series of blunders, bad decisions, and ill-equipped leaders that just ran out of time and money. Their biggest investor probably decided to cut its losses after tons of empty promises from the leader, another year of lackluster sales performance and losing millions on a poor performing business. As much as I want there to be a “bad” guy to point the finger at, there really isn’t one. Things got messed up and it just didn’t work out. Sometimes in life, it just doesn’t and real people end up getting hurt because of it.

    Advice to Management

    This is more for the investment group than it is for anyone that was employed at the company at this point. I have known you all to be good people, so I was really shocked hear how this all unfolded. Please do not tarnish the legacy of all of the hard work and passion that was invested by so many over the years. The families that came through those doors were amongst the kindest and trusting people that I have known as customers. Often times paying thousands in advance in order to secure their child's spot in our classes. They loved what we stood for and they wanted to make the world a better place for their children. Do the right thing and refund them 100% of their unused tuition. It's the right thing to do, even if it means losing more money. These folks don't deserve to bear the brunt of the bad decisions that were made. It is already bad enough that they must lose their lessons on such short notice. Do you need to also make them distrustful of the world in the process? Do you need to tarnish the legacy of the company and potentially destroy people's faith in humanity on top of it? Only you know if you will make it right, but I hope you do, even if it's only to avoid having your names dragged through the mud.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Language Stars took everything and ran."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Language Stars full-time

    Pros

    Was a casual work environment until they abruptly closed and took everything from their employees and customers.

    Cons

    The ownership of the company decided to abruptly close, and stole thousands of dollars from loyal customers. They gave none of their employees any severance pay or benefits extensions.

    Advice to Management

    In general, don't be scumbags to other people.


  4. Helpful (5)

    "Language Stars Bankrupt Fires All Employees HCP&Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Language Stars full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Language Stars stunned all of our employees and customers by giving us all not even one day notice that the company was shutting down and we were all losing our jobs immediately a few weeks after having us aggressively collect advanced payments for summer programs from our most loyal customers.

    Cons

    Language Stars stunned all of our employees and customers by giving us all not even one day notice that the company was shutting down and we were all losing our jobs immediately a few weeks after having us aggressively collect advanced payments for summer programs from our most loyal customers.
    Language Stars is almost entirely owned by the private equity firm, HCP & Company and the two direct "owners" who purchased Language Stars years ago are Jim Bland and Carlos Signoret. They have over $200 million in their investment fund and so they have no problem losing some money by closing Language Stars and taking every penny from customers who prepaid weeks ago as well as having our employees pay for their own flights to come see them a few weeks ago (where the CEO Matt Kinnich told us just two weeks ago they were not going to lay anyone off but rather were going to add positions) and then not pay any of us for our company expense reports nor a single days severance (even though they have several hundred million dollars to invest).
    As employees we are all in shock and know they will try to hide behind "we're bankrupt" when the ownership actually has hundreds of millions of dollars at their control.
    The only realistic hope of people getting their money back is to focus on the actual ownership which is HCP&Company, specifically Jim Bland and Carlos Signoret as they have all of the money and they will surely look to be in hiding even though they are the full decision makers.
    Since wealthy investors pay them hundreds of millions of dollars their reputation is everything to them. If they are exposed that is likely the only scenario where they might actually do right to all of the customers and return the money they stole from customers in recent months just they could reduce their own losses on this one deal while they make millions on other deals (of course they'll try to hide behind HCP&Company saying they are not Language Stars even though they are the owners).
    We all might as well have worked for Enron. These guys are unbelievable and took advantage of us as employees and all of our customers.

    Language Stars Majority Owners Jim Bland and Carlos Signoret

    Advice to Management

    Return the money to customers. Take care of your employees. Don't run and hide.


  5. "Exciting!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Language Stars full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I feel fortunate to work here. It is an extremely diverse workforce of intelligent, passionate people who eagerly share their culture and professional insights. I find this to be a humbling experience where everyone works collaboratively and are treated respectfully by all employees. The leadership team works tirelessly to make continuous improvements and ensure employees have the best possible experience.

    Cons

    A constant here is change. If you can't adapt to new processes, leadership, stretch assignments or whatever may be introduced, this may not be an enjoyable environment for you. Yet, change teaches us to be resilient and versatile; helping people develop professionally and personally, which seem to be appreciated by most here.

    Advice to Management

    Keep listening to employee feedback and continue providing consistent updates and communications to everyone. This helps employees understand the direction of the organization and reasons for change.


  6. "Pay your top employees what they deserve"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Language Stars full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    good mission, passionate people, casual work environment

    Cons

    low pay and no growth opportunities

    Advice to Management

    you have lost multiple employees but instead of replacing them, you hand off their responsibilities to other team members without a pay increase. Pay your employees what they deserve before you lose them. They are all overworked and underpaid/unappreciated.

    Language Stars Response

    Nov 10, 2017 – Director, Marketing and Communications

    Thank you for reviewing and sharing your experience working at Language Stars. When a position opens up at Language Stars, we always meet with qualified and interested internal candidates and... More


  7. "Exceptional Opportunity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Language Stars full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Multifaceted work allows you to wear multiple hats and gain meaningful experience - in many places you can't get this opportunity as quickly as you can at Language Stars. Collaborating with intelligent people passionate about the company’s mission is motivating. Senior Management encourages a work/life balance, but "Cons" can lead to this being difficult to self-regulate at times.

    Cons

    Lack of accountability results in roundabout conversations, repetition of mistakes, and failure to execute goals in a timely fashion - not to mention insurmountable frustration amongst employees and thus turnover. Lack of iterative or similar systems to best manage and deliver on long-term goals.

    Advice to Management

    Better monitor/manage accountability and agility of employees, especially those in a leadership/directing role. Restructure and implement restructure of onboarding and offboarding as soon as possible. Determine ways to better foster a collaborative culture across departments and regions. You're heading in the right direction!

  8. "Spanish Teacher"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Spanish Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Spanish Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Language Stars part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Well educated people and the managers and Center Directors are so kind. Friendly environment. You will love the kids. Good training.

    Cons

    You can't support yourself with this job. Even if you work full time. No benefits.

    Advice to Management

    Give an incentives to your employees because people comes and goes in regular basis. Teachers spend at least 30min before and after class sometimes 45min and if you work in a Center they won't pay you for this hours.


  9. "It's not for everyone"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Language Stars full-time

    Pros

    Your team is very helpful.
    The kids are fun.
    Parents are understanding.
    You are well trained.
    Staff is fun.

    Cons

    They could pay more.
    Management is kind of pushy.
    Long hours plus extra hours (no extra pay)
    Not enough substitutes.
    Parking isn't always available.

    Advice to Management

    Great work, try to be more understanding of employees.


  10. "Bone"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Language Teacher in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Foreign Language Teacher in Fairfax, VA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Language Stars part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    My love to teach is my reason to decide to be a teacher

    Cons

    I wish if I get more hours

    Advice to Management

    None