Correction notice: This article was originally published with an error, referring to Blessing Uzuegbu as a single mother.
This Sunday, September 30th marked International Translation Day, an annual celebration that acts as an opportunity to pay tribute to the life and work of translators and interpreters who aspire to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers. The day is celebrated with a series of dedicated events, seminars, and symposiums across the world.
Four women shared their experiences building careers in the translation industry, and while their job titles, experience, stories, and backgrounds differ wildly, their sentiment was the same.
“As a translator, you are bridging the gap for humans. You are helping people’s businesses, education, careers.”
It’s impossible to ignore the passion and gratitude behind Blessing Uzuegbu’s voice as she speaks about her career as a freelance linguist for the Igbo language. Her words come across clear and proud, despite the slight fuzziness of a Skype call coming into Prague from Nigeria.
As a mother in a country of increasing unemployment rates, Uzuegbu did what any of us would do in uncertain times; she turned to the internet. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular, any job would do. But when she came across the concept of working as a translator, she knew she had struck gold.
“I never thought about translation as a career, but as I was researching it on ProZ.com and TranslatorsCafe.com, I thought, I’ve always loved writing and learning, and am very good in English. I can do this.”
9,000 km away, Svetlana Uleva had the same thought.
“I can do that,” Uleva said when her father introduced her to a professional translator. Despite considering a career path in engineering roads, her love of literature was enough to convince her otherwise. She began her translation studies in Russia, and in her second year traveled to California in order to immerse herself in the culture and to, “begin dreaming in English.”
The trip was fruitful enough to draw her back to California after graduating, where she’s been ever since. “You learn the mentality of the country through the language, and moving was the next step,” she said. “It was the right move, professionally and literally.”
At first she gruelled in unpaid internships and interpreting jobs that were unfairly paid, because she believed, “it wasn’t about making money, it was about making myself.” Uleva committed to and honed her craft by constantly reading articles, attending webinars, completing courses, and closely following industry trends.
“To be a translator means non-stop learning.”
Which is the same concept behind Claire Languillat’s 25 years as a French linguist. While it was the promise of travelling the world that initially drew her to the industry, continuous learning is what has kept her engaged. “To be a translator you must familiarize yourself with a variety of things beyond just the languages themselves. I read and research constantly — medical, marketing, technical, computing, and so on,” she said.
The laundry list of things to keep up on seems daunting, but Dutch linguist Maria van der Heijde-Zomerdijk insists that it is one of the things she cherishes most about the profession. “I love the fact that I get to search many different disciplines. I get ‘to look in the kitchen’ of many different industries,” she said.
And indeed she has looked into many kitchens throughout her 20 year career editing, proofreading, software validation/testing and voice in a number of fields (medical, telecom, software, marketing, education to name a few).
Both Languillat and van der Heijde-Zomerdijk share an interest in the medical industry that was sparked by translation work. Van der Heijde-Zomerdijk even miraculously found herself on the other side of her medical-related work. “A number of years ago, I had translated the instructions for use of the device that a couple of months ago was implanted in my back,” she shared.
While it certainly helps, the full-circle effect doesn’t have to be so literal to be felt. While in one way or another, every woman expressed the positive impact the career has had on their life through its flexibility and promise of there always being something new to learn and to share, Uzuegbu put it best.
“We are the sharers of information which connects the world. We are the innovators, the entrepreneurs, problem solvers. We are learning and teaching at the same time — it’s a privilege, really.”
In August, the Silicon Valley chapter of Women in Localization held an event featuring speakers from Facebook, Survey Monkey, Wikimedia Foundation, Oath, and Welocalize, hosted by Mozilla. Each talk was just a few minutes long, but packed with information.
The following speakers and topics were featured at the event:
Data driven localization internships
Speaker: Shweta Sathe, Facebook
Hacking to solve i18n issues
Speakers: Esther Perez and Nirav Trivedi, SurveyMonkey
Right-to-Left Shenanigans: Where BiDi fails us
Speaker: Moriel Schottlender, Wikimedia Foundation
Localization platform at Oath
Speaker: Yuriko Yamasaki, Oath (formerly known as Yahoo!)
Measuring ROI: Getting the most from your localization spend
Speaker: Samantha Reiss, Welocalize
You can read more about the speakers and why they chose to present on these topics here.
India has become a giant marketplace in recent years. She is becoming a critical player in e-commerce as she starts the transition to a cashless society with online services like Paytm. This major transition arrived with a changing trend in globalization and with the increase in internet connectivity and the resultant e-commerce. Inevitably, the focus strongly shifts to localizing in more than just English and Hindi, to be able to cater to the rest of India who speaks the another 21+ languages. This large consumer group in India, the fast-growing middle class, increased access to mobile phones across all strata and is seeking more content that is in their local or vernacular or the official state language in most cases.
Some strong factors to localize for the Indian Market in local languages are as follows:
Only a small percent of the Indian population speaks English
As a former British colony, India does use English as one of its official languages. According to the most recent census of 2001, there are 1,635 nationalized mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues and 22 major languages. Of these, 29 languages have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers. There are a few languages that do not have a script but have a group of native speakers. While Hindi is the national language, only 41% of the population speak Hindi. So if content is available in Hindi alone, you are not looking at the entire potential audience.
India has a Significant (and Growing) Online Presence
According to Live Internet Stats, in 2016, 462 million Indians used the Internet, which is 13.5% of Internet users worldwide, but only 35% of the population of India. As infrastructure improves and more and more Indians gain access to the Internet, the number of Indian Internet users will grow phenomenally.
A report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) noted that the number of native-language speaking Indian users is growing by 47% every year, largely due to growing prevalence of smartphones in rural areas. The remaining population is on its way to Internet access in the next decade, indicating an enormous potential customer base. With this “mobile revolution” there has been an explosion of mobile devices with several service providers contributing to mass access. This in itself justifies the huge demand for localized content in all the spoken languages. http://www.iamai.in
E-commerce Shaping Localization Needs
India will be one of the largest emerging markets in coming decades. India’s economy is galloping at an incredibly fast pace, with its GDP rate at 7.5% in 2018, demonstrating it is also a huge market for International products. An option to provide apps in Regional languages alongside English will drive more adoption of technology.
People who do not speak English are averse to online transactions or use of technology because they do not understand English, and they feel alienated. But if commercial websites were to be made available in the local vernacular language, it would be worth the investment. Increased localization in the regional languages is required to enable more users to participate in online transactions and to make computers “user friendly” through the language of their choice.
Anagha Patil is a global project management expert with 15+ years of experience in localization best practices, vendor management, business development, customer success, linguistic testing and QA. Her international experience includes managing and creating cohesive and motivated teams in Asia, Europe and North America. Anagha is a member of Women in Localization’s marketing committee and recently joined the Data AI team at Amazon.
Keeping it fresh! What keeps you in the localization industry?
Co-author: Mimi Moore, Vikki Carter
On its tenth anniversary, we asked a few Board members of Women in Localization (Anna Schlegel, President and Co-Founder, Silvia Avary-Silveira, CFO and Co-Founder, and Sonia Oliveira, Director, Executive Partnerships) to enlighten us on their experiences and thoughts for the future, looking forward to the next ten years of this wonderful organization.
Mimi Moore and Vikki Carter are both members of the Women in Localization (W.L.) content team. They found themselves in the somewhat unusual position of being on opposite sides of the world, with Mimi in California and Vikki in the U.K., but looking for the same thing at the same time: a career change with new and innovative opportunities. Not so unusual you might say. But making this change and starting afresh at new companies on the same day? What are the chances! So, from 5,000 miles apart, we put our heads together and thought we would ask a few Women in Localization leaders what keeps their careers interesting, challenging and enjoyable. Their answers are honest, thought provoking and insightful; they will resonate with many of our colleagues in the global localization community. We are sure you will find their advice invaluable and we thank them for participating in our research.
After many years in the localization industry, how do you keep your career engaging and fresh?
Silvia: I love to learn, so I am always looking for opportunities to do so. In our industry, it is easy to find webinars, events, thought leadership articles, conferences and online courses. Many of those things are free of charge. I also like to take advantage of my network to learn from my peers and give back.
Sonia: I feel quite fortunate to have chosen a career in Localization. I believe the incredible amount of transformation we have seen in the industry has helped keep careers engaging and fresh. For at least the past twenty years, the industry has experienced an incredible amount of change on the technology front, with MT and AI for example, as well as with more robust tools and collaborative platforms. We have also seen great transformation on the business landscape with consolidation and acquisitions on the providers’ side, not to mention the great deal of diversification in terms of business areas they can now support. So, keeping up with all of that, this amazing transformation is part of what keeps me engaged. More specifically, in my career I have been able to work for companies that were both well-established and start-ups which allowed me to exercise all the skills in my toolbox. Each company has its own hurdles and challenges, as well as great learning and growth opportunities, which makes our journey a lot more interesting.
Anna: I have been in localization since the age of seventeen. I am now fifty! I have learned each little corner of it; QA, teaching, writing about it, being a freelance translator, being a GM for a vendor, having my own start up, and today being the Head of Information Engineering and Globalization Strategy. You must shake things up to keep it fresh – at least for me! Being part of organizations like Women in Localization is what allows me to see even more adventures – for example, in Artificial Intelligence and Globalization.
If you enjoy your current role, what are the top 2-3 things that keep you there, and not tempt you to look for a change of position or company?
Silvia: What keeps me here is the flexibility I have, which in return gives me the work-life balance I need. I also see many opportunities for growth and a chance to make a positive impact. There are many challenges, but it keeps things interesting.
Sonia: The notion that we can always improve, learn, grow, and get even better is quite an important North Star for me. As long as I feel that I am learning and contributing, I don’t feel a need to change positions.
Anna: I love my current role; what keeps me there are definitely the people. I work with an incredible team. After that, the fact that we are all passionate about innovation, and we don’t settle, is quite something!
What is the most important thing to you when evaluating your career in localization?
Silvia: It depends on the phase of my life. For example, when I was younger, my focus was growth opportunities and salary. Now that I have a family, I still value growth, but I value even more flexibility and work environment. I need to be able to work flexible hours, so I can be there for my family, and I also need to enjoy working so it is worth being away from them.
Sonia: The incredible experience I have been able to gather along this journey. How much I have learned and hopefully how much I have shared. It’s been an incredible ride and there’s so much more to look forward to. So, when I evaluate my career, I feel fortunate for what I have lived through so far and very energized for what it is yet to come.
Anna: I never envisioned a career in localization, it did not exist. I fell into it and I think I can say that I helped create it when we wrote the first localization certificate in California years ago with Nitish Singh, and that everyone at Women in Localization is creating it. But I did not search for it! I wanted to be a philosopher!
Who or where do you turn for inspiration if you find yourself considering your work situation, and how do you evaluate whether making a move to a competitor or another company (or even out of the industry) would be in your best interest?
Silvia: I usually discuss this with my family. They help me evaluate the options, since any change affects us all. I also turn to people in my network that are closer to me for advice and I try to find people that might know my future boss/company to learn about the culture.
Sonia: I always need to believe in the company I work for, otherwise it would be difficult for me to feel authentic and engaged in any role. I find that change can be quite exciting, but to me it is only worth it when it’s apparent that the impact you will have in the new organization is larger than the one you are currently experiencing.
Anna: I turn to Harvard Business Review, The Economist, IDC, I listen to my team, I participate in a lot of Forums. Then I create my work situation. I like to invent from seeing a cross-functional puzzle outside of our area. If an application, process, or idea is good for another career or business problem, why not for globalization? There are many business practices to use in globalization. They are all out there, and you just need to put them together.
What tips do you have for others in localization to keep their careers fresh?
Silvia: Take advantage of the many free webinars, events, and digital content we have. Talk to people, network, network, network, and go to conferences if you can.
Sonia: If you are fortunate to love what you do, it should not be that difficult. If you are in the localization industry, keep yourself well-read and well-informed. Attend conferences, participate in forum discussions, join professional groups (such as Women in Localization!) and be aware of the latest trends. The world is multilingual, and our interdependency is stronger than ever. Our industry will continue to play a critical and central role in new, exciting and innovative developments.
Anna: Talk to folks in different roles and spend time on your career. Plan it better than you’d plan an awesome vacation.
What does Women in Localization’s 10th anniversary mean to you?
Silvia: So much! It is with pride that I look back and realize how we have matured and grown. When we started, we were a local group of professionals looking for connection and opportunities to learn and share. We were so local that our name used to be Northern California Women in Localization. Then we decided to go global, and that was one of the best decisions we ever made because we became so much bigger and we developed partnerships to create great things for the localization industry. So, it allowed us to not only help advance the career of women in localization here and abroad, but also the localization industry. Now, we are celebrating a new milestone for W.L., we have achieved Non-Profit Status, and we believe we will be able to do even more great things in the future. To the next 10!
Sonia: It’s an incredible milestone. I am one of the early members and it feels like it was just yesterday when I attended the first meeting. Today W.L. is a vibrant and ever evolving organization, with over 4,500 members and growing fast globally! So exciting to be part of it. I am so proud to be able to contribute, especially as a Board Member. Cheers to all the hard work these amazing ladies have put into this organization.
Anna: We have been on calls and meetings for ten years. Wow. Silvia and Eva (Klaudinyova) are my amazing partners throughout these past ten years. I am so grateful we pulled it off with the leadership and support of hundreds. However, we have had to open up, and learn how to listen to many advisors and experts to get us where we are. I have learned a lot! So, the actual anniversary commemorates our journey of our own growth. I guess we had a good idea!
Anna’s last sentence says it all. A good idea indeed! Big congratulations and appreciation to the hard work these wonderful ladies put in at all stages for Women in Localization. Thank you and happy 10th Anniversary!
SUNNYVALE, California, USA, September 17, 2018. Women in Localization (W.L.), the leading professional organization for women in the localization industry, is excited to announce certification as as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code provides tax exemption for groups organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. By generating donations, raising awareness, and encouraging efforts that will benefit the advancement of women in the localization industry, Women in Localization will clearly be fulfilling a charitable purpose.
In honor of this important milestone and keeping with its mission to promote women and the localization industry, Women in Localization has initiated a content series to share thought leadership from a diverse group of professionals in the localization industry. This thought leadership series will culminate in a panel discussion comprised of leaders from the Women in Localization community at SDL Connect, November 7-8, 2018 in Santa Clara, California where the most innovative content and localization professionals convene to learn about the latest trends and technologies driving the field.
Co-Founder and CTO Silvia Avary said, “We believe becoming a non-profit will help us fulfill our mission even further. We will be able to create and provide more opportunities for women in the localization industry.”
Believing that women need professional and personal support at every stage of their lives for the challenges they face in the workplace, W.L. fosters a community that supports women through mentorship, education, social events and advocacy for gender equality.
”Leading the non-profit task force has been one of the most difficult jobs I ever signed up to do for Women In Localization, but it has also been the one that I am most proud of,” said Avary. “We have so many people to thank for this achievement. Everyone on the W.L. board contributed to the non-profit effort, but some names stand out: Mimi Hills, Allison McDougall, Duaine Pryor, and of course, my friends and co-founders of W.L., Anna N. Schlegel and Eva Klaudinyova.”
“Becoming a non-profit comes at the perfect time as we celebrate our 10th anniversary, and I could not be prouder,” said President and Co-Founder Anna N. Schlegel, “Our dream has exceeded our expectations: we went global, we became a non-profit, and we are in every single major event and global publication. We made it!”
“In this age of divisiveness, the success of Women in Localization stresses the importance of unity and community,” adds Eva Klaudinyova, co-founder and Secretary of W.L. “All our members, advisors and supporters believe in education, empowerment and equality. We are very proud to carry these ideals through our chapters and events around the world and want to thank all our past and present volunteers for the incredible journey we have been on together in the past decade. The new non-profit status will allow us to increase the scale of our efforts and we are looking forward to another decade together!”
About Women in Localization
Women in Localization (W.L.) was founded in 2008 by Silvia Avary-Silveira, Eva Klaudinyova and Anna N. Schlegel, and is the leading professional organization for women in the localization industry with over 4,500 members globally. Its mission is to foster a global community for the advancement of women and the localization industry. It aims to provide an open, collaborative forum where women can share expertise and experience and help each other move forward in their careers. Started in the San Francisco Bay Area, W.L. has expanded its membership to include women across the globe, encouraging members to meet in other local geographies. To learn more, visit http://www.womeninlocalization.com. You can also follow W.L. onFacebook,Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Women In Localization has been expanding globally for the past few years and going global Is methodically curated by a Committee. Women in Localization’s Global Expansion committee is chaired this year by Michele Smith, W.L. Board Member. Executive Director Kristin Gutierrez is responsible for partnering with Geo Managers Cecilia Maldonado for the North Americas, Miyuki Mori for APAC, and Maria Kania-Tasak for EMEA. Also serving on the committee is Valeria Barbero who manages Geo Chapter Content, Kate Kovtun as Social Media Lead and Maria Jesus de Arriba Diaz as Chapter Committee Assistant.
Our committee would like to share what we have worked on during the first half of 2018 and what we are planning for the remainder of the year.
We have multiple strategies for 2018: Launch four Chapters, increase communication with our local members, incorporate new GDPR laws, launch our new branding, prepare for our non-profit status, and support every existing chapter with questions, major events, training, and conference representation. WOW!
We felt energetic during Q1 and achieved our first goal to expand to four new sites. Our first presence in Eastern Europe was with W.L. Poland. We expanded to APAC by opening our second chapter in China with W.L. Beijing and then our chapter in Singapore. We also opened our fourth U.S. chapter in Utah. This brings W.L. to 16 chapters around the world!
Since the beginning of Women in Localization there has been a lot of interest in opening chapters, so we created a waitlist for new chapters. Based on this list, we carefully evalute where to go next. After all, that’s our expertise!
We methodically set up all chapters for success and make sure support and tools are in place prior to launching. Since we overachieved in Q1, our plan is to continue partnering with potential chapters and start launching new chapters in Q1 of 2019.
If you are interested in starting a local W.L. chapter please apply through our website and we will get back to you toward the end of 2018 during our evaluation period.
2018 also acknowledges Women in Localization’s 10th Anniversary! Our worldwide chapters are hosting celebrations that will culminate in an international celebration in Silicon Valley on October 5th, 2018 (please look out for details on our website and social media channels).
In addition, W.L. has been represented at many industry conferences in 2018: GALA in Boston, LocWorld Tokyo, and LocWorld Warsaw, and we are actively planning for LocWorld Seattle in October.
2018 has been an incredible year for Women in Localization. We could not be prouder or more thankful for our amazing chapters. Their efforts have been exceptional and the Global Expansion Committee will continue to support them like the pros they are!
Back in 2008, Facebook asked its users to help translate its then unlocalized site into other languages – within a year of launching this project, Facebook was available in 16 languages. Following Facebook’s success with translation crowdsourcing, other companies and organizations started to adopt the idea of utilizing volunteer translators for their localization needs. The rest is history, with more success stories or failed efforts.
Because volunteers donate their translations without getting paid, many tend to assume that translation crowdsourcing is cost-free to implement; however, this is far from the truth. The engineering cost of building and managing a proprietary translation platform on which volunteers can work is a hefty expense, especially when they include features like WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get, aka in-context review). In fact, this expense is often the same as or bigger than hiring professional translators or a vendor to translate your content.
Another assumption about translation crowdsourcing is that translation quality would be inferior to that of using a language services provider or (paid) professional translators. However, sometimes multilingual volunteer users are better translators than professional ones depending on the industry or products that are being localized. Take gaming, for example. When newly released video games are sequels to previous releases, it is vital to the user experience that not only the storylines from the previous games continue and are coherent, but also use consistent terminology and names of key characters or places. Gamers often complain about bad translations they find while playing, so much to the point they share their own translations on community forums and make pleas to the developer. So in this case, it does not matter whether a professional translator has 10+ experience; if the experience is in the wrong field like legal or medical, then can we really assume that they will be just as good at translating game scripts? The developer is probably much better off with a passionate user of the game who also happens to be bilingual for delivering the best user experience for the target locale. And it’s the passionate users who are more likely donate their free time and knowledge to contribute as a volunteer translator.
Other methods and strategies to improve translation quality of volunteers include the following: a tier-system among the volunteers and very good reference materials for volunteers. For example, TED and Coursera “promote” highly involved, experienced and skilled volunteers to language coordinators for management of a specific language community of volunteers. Language coordinators can accept or reject a volunteer’s translations after reviewing them to see if they are error-free and follow the provided reference materials like style guides and glossaries. This checks-and-balances procedure of a tier-system allows additional review process to ensure higher quality of the volunteer translations.
If not free and involves the risk of potential quality issues, then why do companies still explore the option of translation crowdsourcing? The obvious and most important benefit of translation crowdsourcing is faster turnaround time; with volunteers working around the clock, a company can deliver localized content within days as opposed to months. Some enter new markets with languages they haven’t considered localizing into before because volunteers willingly take the first initiative to do so. And these benefits are well-worth the engineering cost for many companies and organizations wanting to expand their global presence and user base. Then what are the benefits for the volunteers? And since we are Women in Localization, how can women benefit from contributing to community localization as a volunteer?
Job seekers sigh when they spot the phrase “X years of experience required” – sound familiar? For many, it’s not such an easy task to break into an industry and start building “X years of experience” when so few are willing to give you the first chance. Not exclusive to translation, volunteering can be a great way to start your career, whether you are a young professional wanting to gain experience, an experienced professional venturing into a new industry, or a stay-at-home mother wanting to continue professional development on her own schedule. In fact, one of my very first professional experiences as a translator began with volunteering, not too long after graduating from college: TED’s Open Translation Project. It was the perfect opportunity for me to not only hone my translation skills and build experience, but also associate myself with a cool, big-name organization like TED. Translating for TED quickly turned into a new, paid freelancing opportunity at Amara Subtitles, which gave me an edge over other candidates when interviewing for my next job. Accumulated volunteering experience for a same organization can also lead to other opportunities. Many organizations turn dedicated and experienced volunteers into full-time or permanent positions; through these roles, volunteers can take on great responsibilities and duties, including but not limited to project management and vendor management, that will provide further professional development and serve as a stepping stone to more opportunities.
Volunteering can also yield to great networking opportunities, especially if the platform harnesses a good online community and network of volunteers, through which they can give and receive mentoring and support. Going back to TED as an example, every year few chosen volunteer translators with hefty contributions get a complimentary invitation to attend a TED talk, which can cost thousands of dollars per attendee. TED also hosts a Translator Workshop and Summit every now and then, inviting volunteer translators to attend for discussions and networking, another amazing professional development opportunity.
So whether you are new to the world of localization or an experienced professional, try out community localization for yourself! You never know what other exciting roads it will lead you to, perhaps your best one yet.
If you are a business development manager for a localization company, focussed on winning new life sciences clients, what level of expertise and knowledge do you think is important to possess when talking to a new prospective buyer of your services? If you are a project manager in this field, how much knowledge is enough in order to take good care of a client, to ensure they receive the deliverables they are expecting? Admittedly, working on projects or winning deals with companies in this market can be more challenging than others, as there is so much information to take into account. You need to know your stuff, but are not expected to be an expert; just have sufficient knowledge, resources and experience at your fingertips to do the job well. Building a network of good contacts who can offer specialist advice is also advantageous. Some of the challenges below could be ones you have come across in the past, or may face in the future, so I hope they will resonate with you. Rest assured you are not alone in those tricky “client-management moments”!
In-Vitro Diagnostics and the Regulations
Presently in vitro diagnostics and medical devices are subject to the following directives: Medical Device Directive (MDD), In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive (IVDD), and Active Implantable Medical Device Directive (AIMD). May 2017 saw the publication of the new EU medical device and in vitro diagnostic medical device regulations, which will affect device manufacturers as well as any organization that is offering services and therefore forming part of the supply chain. So translation companies need to be aware and take note! They must also demonstrate a genuine interest, as it affects their clients, so it is wise to keep up with industry activities and developments. Translation clients will need to prepare and plan ahead to ensure they remain compliant and therefore may need assistance in updating texts in each of the languages they work in. As a project manager or account manager, are you being proactive in asking your clients if they will need to update texts, product packaging and labelling, IFU’s (Instructions for Use) and user guides? Aside from giving them full support, there may be opportunities for bringing in further revenue due to these changes. Being proactive can reap rewards as well as supporting your clients in a positive way.
Contract Research Organizations
Many interesting and challenging points will arise when working with a CRO (Contract Research Organization) or bidding to win a contract with one of these companies. They will often be looking to outsource translation projects on behalf of one or more of their pharmaceutical clients, and will be responsible for evaluating and selecting the most suitable resources to do the job and do it well. They will ask you many probing questions to filter out those who make the shortlist, such as:
how you manage risk
what percentage of your revenue comes from life sciences and of that, what comes specifically from pharma and other CRO’s
how you ensure clinical terminology consistency and scientific accuracy
how your quality management systems are structured
version control of documentation
what your biggest challenges are at the moment and in the foreseeable future
Of vital importance to a CRO is your demonstrating knowledge and a proven track record in the language demands of documents such as QRD (Quality Review of Documents) templates for pharmaceutical companies, who must have everything approved by the European regulatory bodies. Once you are working with a CRO, you may find it challenging when faced with queries that require answers from the end client, but your contact is in between you and them. Messages can get filtered or delayed, when time is of the essence and you need to complete your work on time. In-house training programs for production staff are a must for anyone looking to work on CRO or pharmaceutical clients’ projects. There are to be no mistakes made or questions asked that could appear to give the impression that not enough knowledge is there to do the work well. Senior production managers must ensure all staff is up to date with the relevant knowledge and resources, such as that from the European Medicines Agency which offers information on clinical data, EU clinical trials register and recent news.
Pharmaceutical clients and their specialized needs
Dealing direct with pharmaceutical clients has its rewards and its challenges in equal measure. On the up side, once you are working with a client, and delivering translation work that is up to scratch and of high quality, your client is unlikely to switch vendors and risk training up a new set of resources. Pharma companies can spend big when they have a requirement, and often need their documentation in 24 languages, which multiplies the workload more than other types of medical organizations who may only work in a few. On the reverse of that, they are the most demanding of life sciences clients, and rightly so, with their huge investments into research and development, often racing to secure a patent for a product before a competitor. They need to rely 100% on their translation partner to deliver on time and to a high standard. Certainly worth the effort I would venture.
To sum up, and based on my experience selling into these markets for over ten years, I would conclude that working with clients and looking to win new business is challenging but very rewarding. Life sciences clients are, generally speaking, loyal to their translation partners, as a sharing of knowledge and product development is present and the two parties grow together with the experience. On the challenging side, trying to win business from a company who already works with another translation agency can be more than a little tricky! When you win your new clients, work hard to keep them by staying up to date with all their news and industry developments, as well as delivering the quality they expect plus a little bit more. You can’t go too far wrong.
While roughly half of all online gamers are women (42% in 2015), there is a widespread belief that the gaming industry is unwelcome to women. Only one in five game developers is a woman and female gamers have faced online or in-game sexism, hostility, harassment and even death threats, the worst example being 2014’s Gamergate controversy. Gender stereotypes persist, such as the belief that girls can’t play as well as men or play “stupid” games like role playing or interpersonal relationship games. Additionally, anatomy used in female game characters can tend to be male-focused (for example, think 1990s Lara Croft).
I recently met two women, Michelle Zhao and Karin Skoog, who are changing perceptions about women in gaming, demonstrating gaming is a viable and enjoyable career and paving the way for future generations of women interested in this industry.
In her 20s, Michelle dreamed about making the world a better place as an interpreter for the United Nations. She enrolled at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey intending to study translation and interpretation. While there, Michelle discovered MIIS had a Translation and Localization Management track, and with Silicon Valley only one hour away, tech and localization project management became her new focus.
“As I started in the game industry as a localization professional, I developed a good foundation for understanding the details of well-designed game content and how a game can be produced with a global mindset in preparation for being published in 40+ languages,” Michelle said.
Karin’s entrepreneurial spirit and fascination with the business world guided her to an MBA after completing a Comparative Literature degree. It was during the MBA that Karin realized that video games could be a career option.
“Because of my interest in games, I geared many of my MBA projects toward the video game industry, such as conducting a financial analysis on Nintendo. I also created a feasibility analysis and high-level design for a Nintendo-themed amusement park,” Karin said. “That was a blast to create!” After a graduate career fair, Karin accepted her first job in video game localization at LAI Global Gaming Services.
Founded in San Mateo, California in 1993, LAI Global Game Services started out as a localization provider for the video game industry, and later expanded to video game marketing and global publishing. Over the years, LAI released a long list of titles such as Perfect World, SuperHot, and Solitaire, progressing from console to PC to mobile gaming. LAI is now publishing mobile game titles under their own name.
Gaming Localization – A Unique Set of Obstacles
Karin and Michelle soon found that gaming localization presented its own set of challenges. “There are many struggles localizing narratives,” Michelle said. “Not all jokes or puns can be translated. Sometimes stories are based on history or religion, or other cultural or political elements, which are not viewed the same way in different parts of the world. There are also adaptations for audio and video, and monetization and gamer experience expectations can vary across markets.”
Karin and Michelle participated in the development of Game Market Analyzer, a free iOS app that helps game developers and publishers easily assess the ROI of localizing their game for global markets. “This app helps indie developers to increase their ROI in the global market by leveraging industry intelligence data and metrics to benefit international publishing for the global game community,” Michelle said.
At LAI, Michelle manages indie game publishing, business development, as well as key localization accounts, sometimes into as many 40+ languages. Karin served as a marketing specialist, focusing on business development and marketing.
“I frequently spoke with developers and publishers about LAI’s services, gave presentations about game localization at global conferences, and learned SEO keywords related to global game markets to push LAI to the front page of search engines,” Karin said. “With game marketing, you don’t need to go as deep into how the product can benefit a company as with B2B marketing and why it should be used for business operations. Purchases have more of an emotional component, such as the customer finding the story interesting or liking another game in a similar genre. It’s more about ‘Here’s an awesome new game you’ll enjoy, and here’s why you should add it to your library!’”
Karin also served as a native English editor for game localization projects. “I edited game text that was translated by someone with limited English, which required quite a bit of creativity. My first challenge was recreating the text so it made sense in English, and then reworking it so it sounded good in English,” Karin said. “Game localization requires strong creative writing skills for this reason!”
Michelle shared some photos of her 2017 visit to ChinaJoy, a Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, held in Shanghai in 2017
In 2014, Karin joined Voltage Entertainment as a Game Producer/Game Designer. Voltage was localizing their Japanese games into English and starting to create original content for the West, so they needed someone with localization and gaming experience to drive this effort. With another Game Producer, Karin was responsible for creating an entire gaming world, including characters, plotlines, and character specs. She designed game mechanics and created composition outlines for key art pieces and characters so remote artists could produce their commissioned pieces. Adhering to certain Japanese conventions, such not showing a character’s eyes, was also required for some titles.
“The idea was that players could see themselves more in the role of the main character when the eyes weren’t showing,” Karin said. “This was my first experience leading artists in game development, and I had very minimal art skills at the time, so I learned a lot on the job.”
The Value of Industry Outreach
In addition to their day jobs, Michelle and Karin are very involved in industry outreach. In 2016 Karin co-founded Golden Moose Collective, a small group of independent game developers, each working on their own projects. The collective allows Karin to travel the world while creating her own games. Since 2016, her journeys have taken her to Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Cambodia. Karin is currently working on a jungle adventure simulation game called In the Heart of Borneo, which is based on her recent travels in Malaysia.
“An awesome part of being an independent game developer and freelance localization game design consultant is that you can be location independent,” Karin said. “My typical day varies depending on location, but for the most part my daily schedule is to wake up early, and either do creative writing or go to the gym. I have breakfast, commute to work – currently a 15-minute walk to a coworking space, sometimes in between a lot of activity at the nearby temple during Balinese holidays! I sometimes pick up lunch from a street stand, answer emails, check my task list, estimate how long it will take to complete tasks, and work a full day according to my list. I may do a little more writing in the evening, relax with a book or game, or do some marketing work. I currently reserve at least one full day a week for client/consulting work so I can dedicate my full attention to it.”
Karin sees the sights at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
In 2015, Michelle organized Global Game Day, a part of industry event Mobile Gaming USA. In December 2017 she presented at Game Quality Forum. “I was invited as a panelist on the first day for ‘Panel Discussion: Where in the World?,” Michelle said. “This event brought together video game professionals, such as Producers, QA, Content Management, and Localization, to discuss topics that they have encountered and present their solutions.”
Michelle’s 2017 trip to China included visiting clients in Beijing
Michelle has also lectured on game localization at the University of Maryland, MIIS and Bingham Young University, and been a guest speaker in Beijing and Dalian, China. “I really enjoyed interacting with curious and bright minds. When they are asking questions or giving feedback, it always felt like another chance for me to revisit my understanding of game localization.”
Karin’s most rewarding experience has been getting involved in Malaysia’s game development scene in Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo. Karin and a Golden Moose Collective colleague attended weekly meetups, presented their experiences to indie developers, and participated in a game jam. They also taught an Intro to Unity3D workshop. A cross-platform game engine, Unityis primarily used to develop both two- and three-dimensional video games and simulations for computers, consoles and mobile devices.
“It was very fulfilling to teach a group of people new to Unity and see them experiment with the things they learned,” Karin said. “I plan to do more events like it in the future as I want to promote game development education, especially in areas that don’t already have programs available.” While traveling, the Golden Moose Collective team enjoys meeting fellow game developers in different countries to exchange ideas, give talksand do workshops.
Despite working with games all day, Michelle and Karin continue to enjoy games in their free time. Both like that puzzle games challenge them mentally, and narrative games transport them to other worlds, similar to books or movies. Michelle’s favorite platform game is Super Mario. She also likes open-world adventure games like Horizon:Zero Dawnand MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games that she plays with friends, like Arenaof Valor. Before bed or when just waking up, Michelle plays casual or strategy games like Clash Royale, Rage of Kings, and Mind Mould. Karin prefers strategy, simulation, puzzle, narrative-driven, action and RPG (role playing games). Some of her favorites are Civilization,The Witness, Braid,Stephen’s Sausage Roll, What Remains of Edith Finch, Firewatch, Gorogoa, The Long Dark, Democracyand older Final Fantasygames (VI-X).
Due to emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AG), and mixed reality, gaming is expected to grow from a $90 Billion industry to $130 Billion by 2020. As a result, demand for gaming localization worldwide will also increase. “As the Western markets become more saturated and crowded, game developers will have to consider global markets if they want to ‘stay in the game’ so to speak,” Karin said. Expectations are thatthe largest growth marketwill be the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which is currently growing at a rate of 25% year-over-year. This is in comparison to Latin America’s 13.9% growth, Asia Pacific’s 9.2% growth, Western Europe’s 4.8% growth and North America’s 4% growth.
Breaking into a Gaming Career
For those interested in a career in game development or gaming localization, the field requires passion and an interest in constant learning and problem solving.
“I enjoy working with creative and talented people who are so passionate about what they are doing. I also enjoy solving puzzles when different challenges come my way,” Michelle said. However, she feels one of the biggest challenges for game localization professionals is how to educate and communicate with developers, who may not be aware of or experienced with cultural differences.
Karin agrees. “I’d say the biggest challenge is getting more developers to realize quality localization is important, and that it’s not enough to use fan localization or Google Translate. I’d say this is slowly getting better, but there’s still a long way to go,” Karin said.
To get started in gaming, Karin recommends novice game developers download and learn Unity.
“Make the smallest game you can make, put it on a website (a portfolio) and continue to build that portfolio, with other small games from Meetups, game jams, personal projects.”
FutureGames, a two-year, hands-on game development program in Stockholm, Sweden that Karin attended also prepares students for careers in game design or game programming. During her first week, Karin and her fellow students learned the basics of a game engine, split into groups and had to make a game in two weeks. Karin firmly believes that one of the biggest advantages of FutureGames is the strong student placement rate after graduation, estimated to be close to 80%.
Joining professional groups, such as the IGDA chapter on Game Writing, groups involved with game localization, and volunteering at local game conferences can also help when first starting out.
Despite the negative reports about the gaming industry, both Michelle and Karin wouldn’t change a thing about their career paths. Karin relishes the freedom that a gaming career allows.
“Gaming is an empowering industry where you are only constrained by what you thinkyou’re capable of, and your own imagination. With independent game development in particular, I like that I am in control of my own destiny. I have the freedom to shape my own work and create the things that interest me the most.” For example, with her new game In the Heart of Borneo, Karin is gaining experience programming for a systems-driven game, something she didn’t previously know how to do.
Although Karin concedes that game development tends to be more male dominated and there are fewer women overall in game AI and independent development (she also previously worked as an AI & Game Designer for Avalanche Studios’ theHunter: Call of the Wild), she’s encountered a fair number of female programmers, artists, designers and producers.
“The video game industry is an extremely welcoming place overall. When it all comes down to it, we’re all interested in seeing more good games enter the marketplace. More developers mean a greater chance we can discover new ways of interacting with games and promoting games as an artform,” Karin said. “The industry is bigger than the movie industry and continues to grow as gamers globally gain more access to PCs and mobile devices. If you’re interested in video games and languages, I can’t think of a better fit than game localization.”
Michelle agrees. “I have encountered some awesome female producers, artists, localization and community managers in the gaming industry. They are super cool! Everyone has such interesting tastes on games and culture. I am always fascinated by how creative and talented people are in the gaming industry.”
Michelle will be starting her summer with a new and exciting opportunity in Houston, Texas working for entertainment company Six Foot. Michelle will be contributing her expertise in localization, internationalization, PR and marketing starting with Six Foot’s Dreadnoughttitle for Console and PC. “There will be lots of super legendary people from the gaming industry there,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be joining their team!”
By Anna N Schlegel, Chair and co-Founder, Women in Localization
“Déu n’hi do” is a Catalan expression I have never been able to translate to another language, but it means something along the lines of “OMG”, “You are achieving a lot”, Catalans use it to express admiration, or to confirm that “Wow, this is quite a bit”. This applies to Women in Localization. Large magnitude.
When I asked our teams for a progress recap to prepare for our mid-year Board review, I had to take a moment to sit down to embrace the width, depth, and speed of this organization. You have to take this in and celebrate it. The number of programs coming our way is long and innovative, it is professional, it is an orchestra. We are not a small group of friends anymore, we are no longer just a few sites and chapters. We are a powerful engine, a global tribe, a role model, a group with 4500 plus members that grows daily, with presence across all continents, we are in publications of “How to”, we have partnerships with every single major globalization outfit, and we have at least 2 other non-profit organizations now modeling themselves against our structure, we are asked to speak and share our innovation, we offer 4 panels a year across 16 chapters, that is a lot of innovation. It is a phenomenon, it is a think tank. I am so incredibly proud of every decision we have made along the way to get us to where we are.
2018 is a big year for us, this is the year when we will be granted our non-profit status. So much to line up for this, calls, forms, paralegals, new learnings, bylaws! Silvia Avary, co-founder of Women in Localization has been leading that effort with Mimi Hills and Dr. Duaine Pryor, two of our Board Advisors.
2018 marks our 10th anniversary – so many people have helped us along the way. In this decade, we have had Board Members, Chairs, Sponsors, Corporations letting us crash at their offices, and now, in our new 2018 structure, Board Advisors, Executive Directors, dedicated Committees and even an Office of the Chair. Where do we start to thank everyone? How do we thank our members who keep coming, who are raising their hands at each event to volunteer. Our 16 Chapter Leaders and their local leadership teams! So many people to thank. I see a global party coming up…
Our Global Expansion team is an incredible Committee led by Michele Smith and Kristin Hansen that paces our growth. These ladies know how to go global, with their teams we have just opened our 2nd Chapter in China, and Chapters in Warsaw, Singapore and Utah! The wait list…is long!
Equally impressive is the Marketing Committee led by Liesl Leary and Erica Haims, who are about to launch a rebranded website that will make your day! And the newly launched Education Committee with Loy Searle and Martyna Pakula creating a much anticipated Localization Knowledge Base and Mentoring Program. And Sonia Oliveira and Jill Goldsberry, expanding our partnerships, just led the flawless execution of LocWorld Tokyo and are finalizing all the last touches for LocWorld Warsaw.
Fadwa Asaad, Fabiano Cid, Allison McDougall and Silvia Avary are the fabulous committee leading the newly Sponsorship Program and planning our 10th Anniversary party. That party looks better and better by the week. And the incredible support of my dear friend, co-founder and Secretary Eva Klaudinyova.
And finally, I wanted to share that we have launched The Office of the Chair, with key roles such as our new CTO, Vilma Campos, our new Chief Compliance Officer Monica Bajaj, and Senior Talent Director Bridget O’Brien – all supporting me in making foundational decisions.
How did we get to be this big, this lucky, and this significant with almost no funds? It is the people. It is the people we surround ourselves with. I think we “hire” well. I think it is our values, I think it is our structure, I think it is giving ourselves the opportunity and permission to lead and show up as leaders. Together, we are making it happen. It is also all of you reading this piece, the friends of Women in Localization that we’ve made along the way. We thank you for your trust, your support and contribution as we grow with enthusiasm!
I hope I was able to give this Catalan expression some justice: Déu n’hi do!
Anna N Schlegel