Liesl Leary is the Board Member of Women in Localization (#womeninl10n) and now responsible for rebranding the organization. In the meantime, she is also a mother who has 4 children. Today, Liesl shares with us her passion about localization and magic to maintain work/life balance.
- Could you please introduce yourself?
Sure! My name is Liesl Leary. I am the head of Global Content Marketing for SDL, including managing all creative teams at SDL, market research and video teams for SDL.
- What is your role in Women in Localization (W.L.)?
I have been on the board for 4 years in Women in Localization. I am the head of the Marketing Committee in particular and also responsible for rebranding Women in Localization, which we are going to hear more about it soon!
- What did you study in university?
When I was in university, I got a degree in International East Asian Studies with a specialty in China, which was wonderful. And I lived in China for a year, as a part of my degree program.
- Could you share your career path with us?
I started off working in finance. It was nice thing to try out but at the end I know I should try something more creative. I studied Chinese in China and was actually a double major originally in art history. My mother is an art historian and I always have a creative streak about me. So doing an internship in Law Street taught me what exactly I didn’t want. So when I graduated from college, I got a job in a localization company quite quickly with my language skills and degree. That’s how I started my career in localization. After that, I left that company and worked for Enterprise Resource Planning as a business analyst. Since I am always crazy about language, I got an opportunity working for Translations.com in their San Francisco office and worked in sales for 13 years. Then I started doing marketing in SDL for 8 years so far.
- What drives you to pursuit your career in the localization industry? Is it all about languages?
I am really crazy about languages, but at the end of the day, language is just a means to an end for me. The reason I have been motivated to learn languages is because I really want to be able to understand people better. Localization is a right choice for me. It is all about being relevant to particular audience and learning more about particular person.
- How did you get involved in W.L. and why you want to join W.L.?
I know a lot of women in this organization and respect what they did. They were looking for more Board Members, so I volunteered my time and my energy. I have experience about volunteering for a lot of different organizations over the years. I was on the Board of Directors for another organization called Intercambio Uniting Communities which teaches foreigners and immigrants skills and also English and cooperated Philanthropy Liaison. I wanted to continue to doing volunteering, especially within localization industry.
Another reason I joined Women in Localization is that I feel like there is a strong culture in some places where women are very competitive with one and another and supposed to be very supportive. I really wanted to change that in a lot of ways and I thought Women in Localization could help with that.
- Could you give us your advice for work/life balance?
I have 4 children, ranging an age between 7 and 13, three girls and one boy. The most important thing to balance work/life is your choice in partner. If it wasn’t my husband, it would be very difficult to maintain work/life balance. I was a single parent for 4 years. During that time frame, I think a good work/life balance is to ask for help. I got really supportive friends around me and help with raising my children. So I think the secret to have a good work/life balance is really being able to be honest about what you can do and ask for help with things you can’t do. And don’t feel guilty about asking for help.
- What your suggestions for those who would like to pursuit career in localization but have no background in this industry?
SDL has been pretty good about creating university programs to help people learn a lot about localization. There are a lot of online resources you can go to. What we are seeing more especially in SDL are a lot of people are learning how to do Post Edited Machine Translation. We actually offer a certification in this. So one way to get involved in this industry is to take a look at these free resources we have.
Another thing is doing internship. You can never waste your time by doing internship especially you are in school. It is a great way to start and reach out to some of the big companies and to networks like Women in Localization. Member in Women in Localization are all interested in helping our colleagues get ahead, and definitely consider me a resource for anyone who is reading this.
- Anything else you want to share with us?
One advice I think women should know is to know if you have a good boss or not. I think another way that Women in Localization can be really helpful is being able to compare notes, because sometimes you don’t know if you have a good boss or not. Women should take advantage of networking and ask other people who are working in localization companies questions like: What is your boss like? Are they supportive? If you already get a promotion at another company, would your boss be happy for you or tell you that you betray them? A good boss would actually say: I am going to be sad to lose you but you absolutely deserve this promotion. Therefore, who you decide to work for is the biggest thing can determine your long term success.