Post-panel interview with Lupe Gervás, Language Team Manager – Localization, Netflix
How would you describe your journey from journalism to localization? Can you still express and follow your journalistic passion in your current role?
I started my career as a journalist working for a newspaper and TV. I really enjoyed managing the production of the newspaper as well as the role of TV Executive Producer, and I gained a lot of experience that helped me later in my career. However, I realized that it is not easy to stand out in this business and find a niche for myself that would fully highlight my strengths. Since then I began to focus more on what I was the best at – Spanish language and my editorial skills. My career naturally evolved towards Spanish Language Expert, which especially here in US was a very valued position. Being a native Spaniard, surprisingly I could help a lot also with Latin-American Spanish as I viewed it from different perspective and could analyze different flavors to choose the most neutral one. So, slowly I entered the localization world and all its nuances and I loved it! Currently my job at Netflix totally covers my passions, it combines language, journalism, TV and a little bit of Hollywood.
How would you describe Netflix globalization model right now?
I like to see my team as a group of couturiers led by a head designer to make a perfect dress that fits all occasions. They constantly need to cut and remodel the dress using different tools, materials and assistants to follow the latest trends and stay relevant.
Netflix has very unique culture of freedom, creativity and absolute trust among employees. Does this company culture impact your team performance in any way?
Netflix has indeed extraordinary culture that is nurtured every day by all employees. We are very independent in our roles with no need to be controlled, we are flexible, always eager to take new opportunities and question status-quo. There is no such thing as job description as it restricts a lot creativity and inhibits talent. Netflix recruits people that will perfectly fit this culture and can be entrusted with significant responsibilities immediately from day one. Our company culture actually greatly supports what my team needs to do. They frequently manage independently small linguist teams and need to have time to be creative and proactive which is exactly what Netflix encourages.
You said that your linguists need to act partially as Project Managers. Does this present a challenge to your linguists or rather an opportunity?
I believe that they enjoy the combination of different tasks and project management brings a lot to their experience as well. They have very small teams of freelance linguists that they know very well and collaborate very closely with. Thanks to this they can brainstorm on linguistic aspects to achieve even better results. Project Management is generally very reduced and it is considered an opportunity to mentor and work together with other language experts.
How do you measure quality when most of the work done in your department is very creative and quality criteria may tend to be highly subjective?
My linguists work mainly with freelance translators and they managed to establish very good feedback system and train their freelancers to obtain the desired quality levels and ensure the suitable Netflix language. When we work with vendors than we try to use quality scorecards to measure their performance in more formal way. So far it works pretty well, ultimately the language leads are the guardians of final quality.
What would you advise to future localization leaders to help them succeed?
Always be open for new opportunities and go beyond your current scope of your responsibilities. Never be selfish and limit yourself only to your project but instead help others and get involved in different initiatives and look at bigger picture not only on your small piece of large puzzle. Something that I am still working on as a leader is to be more assertive, as women tend to be more accommodating than men. Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to express your opinions and ideas.
Also, if you feel that you lack some skills or some competences are weaker than others, try to work on it, take courses so that you reach good level. Define skills that will help you in your career, like for example presentation skills or public speaking. The effort you will put to improve will always pay off.
During the panel you told us that Netflix is hiring a lot of people from Hollywood. Is media background a requirement to be successful in your team?
Netflix is becoming a movie studio, so hiring from the content creators makes all the sense. In terms of my team, we do not hire from Hollywood but having a movie background is definitely a big advantage and we are actively looking for people with extensive experience in these areas. In my team, a translator with background in film industry, content creation or journalism combined with high level of linguistic skills and the right attitude would be a perfect match. Unfortunately for fresh graduates, employees need to show high degree of maturity and come with a lot of experience in the industry, therefore there is little space for entry level or interns.
Martyna Pakula, Account Director at JONCKERS, guides organizations to unlock their potential in the international marketspace and succeed in the global arena. Martyna’s passion for languages and travel made her depart from her homeland Poland and head towards Spain to continue her studies, then move to Belgium to complete her education and embark on localization adventure. It was in Belgium where her career reached cruising speed, however next stop was approaching inevitably. Martyna arrived to San Francisco in 2013 to make her American Dream come true.