SB04 Transcript

Alex: Welcome and thank you for listening to ROAR: Speedbumps. I’m Alex Ladd!

Silvia P.: And I am Silvia Pinheiro.

Alex: And we are currently grad students at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, studying translation and localization management.

Silvia P.: If you are unfamiliar with ROAR, this is a student led podcast designed to address “speedbumps” or challenges that exist in the localization industry. We speak with industry students, professionals, and educators to learn about the speedbumps and discuss possible solutions.

Alex: Today we have with us Silvia Avary with us, who is the head of Localization at Juniper Networks.

Silvia A: Hi, Alex, hi Silvia, thanks for having me today. Crazy times we are living, right. I hope everyone is safe and healthy at home.

Silvia P.: So, thank you for being here today and we appreciate your time. We would like to ask you if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, about your career in localization.

Silvia A: Yeah, so I lead the localization efforts here at Juniper Networks. We are a company that creates networking products and solutions, like routers, switches and more. So, in other words, we are the backbone of the internet and we are the ones enabling people to work from home, and learn and also to do bank transactions, watch movies, order food and so much more.   

I have been in the localization industry for a long time now, but I wasn’t always in localization. My career took many paths, went through different paths, because it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. And when I started in localization I did some editing for Brasilian Portuguese, that’s my native tongue, and I also did some voice-over work which was fun. In the beginning I worked on the vendor side, for a little bit, but then I moved to the client side as an LPM. Throughout my career I have taken many localization courses and I still do, I think it is always important to be up-to-date and to learn, and I also have an MBA from the San Francisco State University. I’ve worked in other tech companies too, like Verisign, Symantec and NetApp, before joining Juniper about four and a half years ago. And I really love where my career path took me and where I am today, but I think one of the things that I am most proud [of] in my career is to have co-founded Women in Localization with Eva [Klaudinyova] and Anna [Schlegel] more than 11 years ago. And if you don’t know Women in Localization please do check us out. We are a nonprofit organization with the mission of fostering a global community for the advancement of women and the whole localization industry. 

Alex: Wow. Thank you for sharing. So, we wanted to ask you about a speed bump or a specific challenge that you have seen during your time in the localization industry.

Silvia A: Sure. I think that for many of us, getting resources is usually a speed bump that we encounter over and over. Whether you need to add more people to the team, or you need to get funding to add a new language, or a tool, even a new idea to improve something, it can be difficult. Companies, they usually have set budgets per team so if you need more money, you have to justify it. And there will be others there competing for the same pool of money with their projects. So you have to make sure that your ask is the most compelling. And I think the best thing you have to do is put together a business case. And if you don’t know what a business case is it is when you provide a justification for doing something that requires resources and it usually evaluates the benefits, and the costs and the risks of doing something. It should also include the cost of doing nothing, meaning like, stay the way you are, because there is always a cost of doing nothing. And whenever possible you should provide a return on investment (ROI), with different scenarios, like, the worst case scenario or what you expect, and the best case scenario, like, if it all blows up and you get much more money than you ever anticipated. Put the scenarios there. You should also have a recommendation and let people know what success looks like and always provide a way to measure your successes. I would also recommend that you find an executive sponsor, someone that can have your back and help you along the way, when you want to fight for resources, and make sure that you clearly tie what you want to accomplish with the goals of your organization or the goals of your department. Usually, uhm do like a work .. you know, the company has goals, and the department has goals based on the company and then your team will have goals based on all these goals above. Make sure that your goals are along the way with your company’s goals. And then uhm get ready to present your business case. Get ready to .. and be very prepared. You’re going to have to… when you have your presentation ready you’re going to have to rehearse many times. You know, you can do it in front of the mirror if you don’t have anyone to present, or you can present to your family and your friends. Uhm…Present to your colleagues if they have the time. Say “Hey can you look at my presentation here and give me some feedback.” I would also recommend that you talk to people who know the person you are presenting so that you can adjust the style of the presentation and even try to anticipate their questions so that you are not caught by surprise when you are presenting.

Alex: Do you have more experience trying to get funding related to localization from stakeholders who are knowledgeable about localization or is it more common that you’re pitching these ideas to stakeholders who might be a little less knowledgeable about localization?

Silvia A: They are not knowledgeable at all, most of the time. The people with the money are not really aware of what we do. That’s the truth. So, if you try to come with uhm you know KPIs from your department that are related to quality or turnaround times or things that are very localization focused, you may not go far because it just goes over their head. If this is the first time that you are presenting for someone that you know doesn’t know much about localization, it’s usually good to put a little bit of an introduction of what it is, but don’t go too far, maybe one slide super summarized, because otherwise you’ll lose their attention, you know.

Silvia P.: hmm hmm, yeah. So how easy is it, I mean if they don’t understand what localization is, I am guessing you at least try to show them what localization does for them, right, and normally you would show them numbers because the people who are going to give you funding mostly care about numbers and profit and things like that, right?

Silvia A: Exactly. It can be easy if you be high level. If you start going over too much detail of something in your area, they will start looking down [at] their phones, or you know they start to get agitated because it’s just ….it’s interesting for us but it can be very taxing for others that are not part of the industry. So if you are talking to people that are like maybe you wanna do a business case for your boss you know maybe you wanna add somebody to your team, uhm than sure, you know, go all in and talk to localization the way you would talk to any colleague in the industry, but if you are going to present to a VP or an executive, you know like a C-level person, a VP,  then they don’t know all these details and it could be boring to them. But if you have something interesting to share, uhm that could be a story of how things are going once you added this new language, uhm what happened and show what happened with revenue or with any other measurements that you have, let’s say you know we just launched a website in portuguese and in 3 months this website went from, you know there was nothing and now we have this many users and if you have e-commerce this is how much revenue we have added because now we sell, uhm we have portuguese. So then you have a story to tell and say look this is the size of the market we are trying to tap in, if we add this new language and we are selling then this is how much revenue we could add because this is the marketable size, this is the competitors we have there today, how could we gain if we add that language.

Silvia P.: Do you foresee any changes in how people are going to be able to get funding in the future or do you feel it will always be this difficult? I feel like some of the companies are already a lot more aware of what localization is, but I am just, I’m not sure they call it the same as we do. Do you think it is going to be easier in the future and localization is going to be part of people’s uh you know it’s going to be present in their minds just like marketing and other important departments or no?

Silvia A: Absolutely. I think some companies have globalization in their DNAs, it’s part of the plan from the beginning and they understand and and and it’s so much easier to get resources. But there are still a lot of companies out there that are US centric and don’t understand the need for another language. They still say English is the language of business and why should we localize and we have to keep proving indifferently. So I think we still have, uhm, for many of us uhm out there we still have a struggle on showing and proving. And executives will never understand with the deep detail that we do because it’s not part, they have to have an overall understanding of everything but they don’t need all the details. So even if they get it and they understand what we are trying to do and the benefits, they will always get bored if we get into too much detail, you know. We have to be very succinct. Sometimes you are given 30 minutes to do a presentation, sometimes you are given 10, sometimes you are given 5. Maybe you see somebody in the break room and you have your chance to say something and get something done. So you don’t always have, you know, most of the time they are very busy and it’s really hard to get a chance with them so if you have a chance then make it count and bring it to them the things they can relate [to].

Silvia P.: Right, Thank you.

Alex: How big is your internal localization team at Juniper? Just out of curiosity.

Silvia A.: We have three, well four, because I am also part of the web team so we have 4 people in the team, direct team, then we also have a team of reviewers that are contractors through the vendor, and they are in the country. We used to work with in-country reviewers, they were part of Juniper, not necessarily uhm linguists and we changed that some years ago and we have our own team of reviewers. And uhm yeah. So we have eight, because we have eight languages.

Alex: Ok, so that’s a pretty small team, I guess.

Silvia A: Yes, we are.

Alex:  How hard would it be for you to add a member to your localization team?

Silvia A:Oh, getting a headcount is very hard. It has always been. Pretty much everywhere I worked it has been hard to get a headcount. So, you always have to justify. I have been able to add people, but it’s always hard. It’s much easier to get dollar funding, like program dollars, but it’s still very difficult too. Don’t take me wrong. It’s all hard because, you know depending on how many years you’ve been in business, how much your company is growing, it can be very difficult. Or how they understand the importance of globalization and adding languages. There are many, many reasons why it can be difficult. It could be that I am not doing a great job in sharing, you know. Or that day that I talked to wasn’t the right one or wasn’t having a good day. It could be many things. I can tell you that over here I have had many opportunities to present, many of them were successful and many weren’t. But the thing is don’t give up, you know, even if you don’t get it this time, keep pushing it, keep doing it. If you believe in something  continue to push it. Maybe change the narrative, get more feedback from people, adjust the plan but just don’t give up.

Silvia P.: Yeah, those are all very good advices.

Alex: Persistence.

Silvia A.: Persistence, yeah. And be creative, you know. Change things around, maybe uhm start, uhm when I started here I saw many things that could be improved, had this big big plan with a vision and a team and all of the above, and I presented and they were like, “Are you kidding me? You need all this money and this team and all that.” so, I adjusted. I sort of made the scope smaller and grew in a more organic way instead of getting everything at once, I have been getting what I want in smaller pieces. In smaller bites. Unfortunately. Because we could be much further in the journey now, but uhm it continues to grow, it continues to happen, from adding people to the team, to changing the tools uhm and improving processes, centralizing. It wasn’t even centralized when I started here. The budget. Getting more budget. All that is through being persistent, creative, and really getting people, like alias, allies sorry, to uhm vouch for us, and evangelizing, like, you know talking to people and always presenting why it is important to offer other languages. What are the benefits so that they start to ask for this as well. And then instead of you being alone asking, you start seeing a lot more people with you asking for the same things. We need more languages, we need more assets in those languages, we need to do more. And it’s very rewarding to see that happening.

Silvia P.: What do allies look like? Are they other uhm, engineering teams or …?

Silvia A.: Well, allies can be many people. Uhm… It can be someone in procurement.

Silvia P.: Uh

Silvia A.: That’s a good ally to have because they will tell you. For example, when we started to centralize here, we couldn’t tell who was requesting translations. We told people, you know, “You should request through us.” But how do we ensure it? So when we selected the vendors that we wanted to have, we worked with procurement. We have, it’s the same person from a long time, so we have this relationship now, and whenever he sees somebody trying to open a PO uhm outside of our group or with a new vendor, he’ll flag it to me and let me know so then I can go to the person and say “Hey, what are you doing we have a localization team here you don’t have to go elsewhere we can help you”. So that’s one that people don’t usually think about. You can have an ally in Finance, because they can tell you the market size, how much revenue, they have all this information that can help with your business case. They can tell you, like, what is our percentage in that country, if we have any, say we are already in that country. What’s our revenue there. What is the market size for what we sell, uhm and some other good information that can help with your business case.  

You can have your team, part of your team or your stakeholders can be your allies. They can start vouching for you, they can invite you to meetings where they are planning like, it’s before the uhm project starts so that you are part of the plan and you can start thinking well, you know, uhm, we might need to add this resource, or we might need to do this in order to accomplish all these things that you are doing, so that you are not caught by surprise, like, we’re done now it’s time to translate, here you go. You are part of the plan.

Silvia P.: From the beginning. That makes sense.

Silvia P.: Yeah. So, your MBA was very useful or is very useful?

Silvia A.: It is. It was. It did help. Uhm, but you don’t have to have an MBA, you know. If you take some classes, nowadays there are so many, even free resources, and I understand that Middlebury offers cases on business and creating a business case, right? You guys have this type of classes now.

Silvia P.: At MIIS, yeah we do.

Silvia A.: Yeah.

Alex:Thank you Silvia for joining us today and for talking to us about your experiences in Localization at Juniper, and some of the challenges you faced with getting funding and solutions to go with them. These are all very good tips and lessons to take with us.

Silvia P.: Yeah, thank you so much. We appreciate your time. And for all of those listening to our episode of Speedbumps have a great day and watch out for this virus and for other speedbumps in localization.

Silvia A.: Thanks for having me Silvia and Alex.

Silvia P.: Thank you!

Alex: Thank you!

Silvia A.: Have fun getting funding!

All laugh.