I still remember the day I was browsing Moravia’s webpage and applied for a Localization Project Manager position. Back then I had no idea what “localization” meant, but decided to apply anyway. As the job advert promised, “The candidate will be responsible for all phases of the project delivery life cycle, which begins with project formation and initiation, and completes upon project closure.” That is exactly what I did in my previous job, so switching from the IT industry to localization shouldn’t be too difficult — or that’s what I sincerely believed.
There are more than 200 Localization Project Managers at Moravia. In fact, it’s one of the positions for which we advertise almost continuously in our offices across North America, Europe and Asia. Some 30 new employees join Moravia every month, many of them Project Managers, and many of them share my journey. So here are the six things I learned during my first year (and I wish somebody told me before I applied).
1. Our work does make a difference
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the real results of your work. In our team, we localize images, PowerPoint presentations, videos, web pages and product information into 60+ languages, and we see the direct outcome of our work at the end of each day. In our agile workflow, a typical localization project lasts 2-5 days and our team works on many projects simultaneously. These deliveries are being distributed to our clients’ offices around the globe or appear live on their web and mobile interfaces.
They say that instant gratification is the bane of our times. But hey, what beats the feeling of completing a 60-language project and seeing the localized content live shortly afterwards, and observing the traffic it receives?
2. The real scope of project management
As a Localization Project Manager, I am responsible for delivering all projects to clients on time and in the desired format. But what does this mean? In essence, I manage and rely on my internal team of leads and engineers, as well as proactive communication with our clients and global partners.
On top of that, like every PM, I am involved in process and automation updates to ensure all growing demands are being met. I am involved in testing and implementing new tools for production, scaling resources, and a large part of my daily work involves people management — hiring, training and establishing expectations with team members. In many ways, language services may be the ultimate people-to-people B2B industry.
3. We speak a different language
The vast majority of the population does not need to know who a “Language Manager” is (a native speaker on the client’s side who is responsible for the overall quality of translations in one particular language) or what “in-context review” stands for.
But as a newbie in localization, I had to learn dozens of such expressions quickly. Not to mention the abbreviations! MT, TM, TEP, CAT, HI, ESLA, the list goes on… So it is sometimes difficult to explain to my family and friends about what I and my team do. If you face the same challenge, check out this helpful summary.
4. Making magic happen
As a Project Manager, I am being challenged on a daily basis — especially by very short deadlines or exceptional or new requirements. I might be asked to deliver a localized product (web content, for example) into 30 languages on any given day. If you consider different time zones, bank holidays (there is always some country celebrating something), linguistic coverage, you name it, this industry will put your project management skills to the test.
5. Learning never stops
Not everyone outside the industry might know about “Guarani” or “Punjabi.” Just in case, Guarani is a language spoken by 5 million people in Paraguay, while Punjabi is the 10th most spoken language on this planet, spoken by some 102 million people. I had never heard of these languages before I joined the industry, but I have very quickly realized how much potential they have for many of my clients from the business perspective.
I also quickly learned to appreciate that working habits are completely different in Japan compared to, for instance, Germany. Cooperating with people from 60+ countries made me realize that having the same expectations for linguists from Italy and Paraguay just doesn’t work. One of our linguists also taught me that what we call Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Brazil on June 12th. You knew that, right?
6. Sometimes it is emotional
Imagine opening your laptop in the morning and expecting a delivery from Rwanda. What a surprise it was when I learned instead that the team will be cut off from electricity for the next two days, and thus won’t be able to work at all. It is hard to imagine this is still a reality for many people nowadays.
Sometimes I also learn about natural disasters first hand. Looking at the email with the text “we won’t be working today because a tsunami hit the area” is never easy, and at that moment the last thing I think about is the on-time delivery from this team.
So these are some of the reasons why I fell in love with localization and my job so quickly — and I am not alone. What are yours? Share your story in the comments below, or learn about the current job opportunities at Moravia — and fall in love as well.