In this week’s hires column, the new Head of Sales at a LatAm language service provider (LSP) shares how a lot of translation demand is coming in from Pfizer’s testing of a vaccine in the region; and how their expansion into the South Korean gaming market has accelerated due to Covid-19.
And the creator of serge.io, who recently joined a translation management system (TMS) startup, talks about the tech that excites him most and potential near-term growth in automation.
Meanwhile, the North American Operations Director of a Polish LSP gives an update on the integration of two companies they acquired in late 2019; and the Marketing Head of a Romanian LSP discusses business in Romania.
Luana Lowndes – CWT
Argentina-based medical translation specialist Clear Words Translations (CWT) named Luana Lowndes Head of Sales and Marketing – Brazil on May 26, 2020. She works remotely from Rio de Janeiro and reports to Managing Directors Carina Cesano and Hugo Torres.
Lowndes told Slator that her career in marketing began at age 15, when her father gave her a book by Philipp Kotler. “I fell in love with this human and complex science,” she said. That same year, she became a trainee at an uncle’s publicity agency.
For nearly two decades, Lowndes worked with different sectors, including education, entertainment, and telecommunications. She joined the language industry in 2015 via Rio-based LSP Flash Traduções, where she had worked for the last four years before joining CWT.
CWT Regional Production Manager, Anna Vaz, first contacted Lowndes via WhatsApp and then they started talking on Skype. While the world was on lockdown she went through interviews with the managing team and eventually joined the company.
According to Lowndes, CWT specializes in Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, and Healthcare, including translation for medical devices, stability reports, clinical trials, genetic research; and they have also translated a lot of material on US and European Pharmacopeia.
“For more Pharmaceutical-specific and technical content, translation still requires the human touch. But, undoubtedly, MT is gaining ground in all fields” — Luana Lowndes, Head of Sales and Marketing – Brazil, CWT
“Most of these areas used to go with human translations. But, for quite a considerable time, we have seen translations processed with machine translation (MT), and then most of that content has to be post-edited (PEMT),” Lowndes said.
She qualified, however, that MT+PEMT is most applicable to material from the Healthcare sector. “For more Pharmaceutical-specific and technical content, translation still requires the human touch. But, undoubtedly, MT is gaining ground in all fields,” she said.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Life Sciences “has been more active, without a doubt — lots of material with very short turnaround times. All big laboratories are working hard to find the vaccine and that will undoubtedly increase the demand for translations,” Lowndes pointed out.
“In fact, Pfizer has recently announced that it will be testing the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 in Latin America. So that will bring a lot of work for our company,” Lowndes told Slator. She said they have “more than 150 linguists dedicated to these projects and an experienced team of project managers capable of [servicing] this kind of demand.”
While the Life Sciences represent CWT’s main volume, the company has also started expanding into the South Korean gaming market, Lowndes said, which was only accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. She added that Brazil “has entered into new and important agreements with the EU that will bring the region considerable improvement and new business opportunities.”
Igor Afanasyev – Smartcat
Translation management technology startup Smartcat hired Igor Afanasyev as Senior Product Manager on July 1, 2020. Afanasyev wrote the serge.io tool, which Smartcat currently uses to enable continuous localization. He reports to Anton Voronov, Head of Product at the Massachusetts-based TMS provider and will work remotely from California, for the time being.
Afanasyev had been working as a UI designer and a full-stack software developer from the early aughties and then, in 2006, joined Evernote. He became the note-taking app’s UI designer, “ended up wearing multiple hats on a product side and, by 2008, when our company decided to go global, transitioned into bootstrapping the localization process and technologies, eventually becoming a Director of Localization in 2015.”
It was as Director of Localization that Afanasyev “had a chance to think through all of the aspects of running an internal localization agency, developing tools and workflows that allowed us to scale our operations without inflating the team size.”
On how he created serge.io while at Evernote, Afanasyev told Slator: “One of our early bets was total process simplification and automation, and there was no technology for that back in 2008. Serge, the tool we built in-house, was the first (and I believe still the most robust) localization automation solution that allowed us to set up new projects, add new languages, and implement advanced localization workflows literally in minutes.”
As he spoke to other people in the industry, Afanasyev said, he realized that serge.io “was truly unique, so I felt I had to help others, and open-sourcing our solution was the answer.”
Afanasyev will be working on product, marketing, design, and engineering teams at Smartcat, with “localization automation, simplifying the integration workflows” being his primary focus.
“Pretty much every single localization SaaS platform on the market offers automation that is based on principles and workflows that were defined back in the 1990s, if not earlier” — Igor Afanasyev, Senior Product Manager, Smartcat
Asked to comment on which issues around automation he feels need to be addressed, Afanasyev replied, “One thing that bothers me is how pretty much every single localization SaaS platform on the market offers automation that is based on principles and workflows that were defined back in the 1990s, if not earlier.”
He further explained: “Transactional, narrow-focused, order-based approaches inhibit scalability, reduce the amount of context that linguists get, and don’t help localization managers from the buyer side to see the big picture. I’ve witnessed many cases where large software companies would put significant efforts in integrating with a localization SaaS platform of their choice, only to get a process that quickly reaches its capacity in terms of turnaround time, or translation quality. Automation can only be as good as its weakest part, and is not limited to content delivery.”
Afanasyev sees “a potential for creating fully autonomous content creation and delivery pipelines, now that there are production-ready commercial solutions for OCR, speech and intent recognition, machine translation, and mind-blowing text-to-speech engines.”
As to what he is most excited about, Afanasyev said it is “the future of audiovisual content” and its educational applications “now that the world has quickly shifted to distance learning. So many opportunities here!”
Jeff Kent – Summa Linguae
Poland-based Summa Linguae Technologies (SLT) appointed Jeff Kent Director of Solutions and Operations – North America from April 1, 2020. Kent reports to Chief Operations Officer Madhuri Hegde. The following localization team roles report into Kent: Program and Project Management, Quality Assurance, Localization Engineering, and Solutions Architecture.
Based in Wisconsin, “just east of Minneapolis / St. Paul,” Kent works out of his home. He said, “Once we are able [to return to work], we have office space at the Innovation Center in River Falls, WI for our local employees, and I will be in Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR one week a month.”
Kent came to SLT with over 20 years’ experience in translation services technology and delivery management. He told Slator, “My career started as a heads-down developer, but it became clear quickly that I talk way too much to be a software developer!”
So he moved into a customer-facing role while at Sajan (now AMPLEXOR), where he ran R&D / product teams. During his last five years at Sajan, Kent said he led the Global Delivery teams as they grew to 130 FTEs and ca. USD 30m in revenues, adding that, thus far, “this was the most satisfying role of my career.”
Kent then joined the buy-side via Microsoft; “but I am a growth-mode company guy at heart.” While working in an individual contributor role at Microsoft, he “missed the thrill of leading a nimble team.” So he joined SLT after being introduced to the company by Shannon Zimmerman, with whom he worked at Sajan “for 16 great years.”
“On the technology side, we have a roadmap defined for the next 6–12 months to integrate many of our key collaboration, TMS, and ERP systems” — Jeff Kent, Director of Solutions and Operations – North America, Summa Linguae
Asked for an update on the integration of Globalme and GlobalVision’s operations into SLT’s, the company’s Operations Director for North America said: “We are already starting to realize economies of scale and geography / time zone efficiency gains that come with a merger such as this. From a workflow perspective, we are already working together to co-deliver work. On the technology side, we have a roadmap defined for the next 6–12 months to integrate many of our key collaboration, TMS, and ERP systems.”
He told Slator that Globalme will continue to operate under the existing brand (as an SLT company), while GlobalVision has entirely rebranded and now operates under the SLT brand. “We expect the Globalme rebranding into the SLT brand to happen at the end of 2020,” he said.
Currently, all SLT staff work remotely, Kent said, adding, “I would not expect any changes over this quarter at a minimum.”
Stefan Pavel – Qualtransloc
Romanian LSP Qualtransloc appointed Stefan Pavel Head of Marketing on July 20, 2020. He reports to CEO Andrei Carp and, in turn, the marketing team reports into Pavel. He is based in the Qualtransloc head office in Iasi, Romania, where companies such as Amazon and Xerox have also set up shop.
It was an easy decision to join Qualtransloc, Pavel said: “I know people that work here, and I consider them more like friends than employers or colleagues. They presented their vision, and it aligned perfectly with mine.”
The biggest demand for the LSP’s services comes from “the medical field — this year more than ever,” Pavel told Slator, adding that they also “deal daily with software, technical, legal, and marketing-related materials.”
“E-commerce companies have large volumes all the time, pandemic or not. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they increased, but they stayed close to the same” — Stefan Pavel, Head of Marketing, Qualtransloc
Most of Qualtransloc’s clients are based overseas; the United States, Canada, Europe, and even Asia. Pavel said the translation industry in Romania is starting to grow and “new companies emerge once in a while, but it’s fairly limited and mostly small, local translation bureaus.”
Although business in Romania, in general, was hit hard by the pandemic, “the translation industry passes borders fairly quickly and easily,” Pavel pointed out. And while some LSPs were affected and the volume of work diminished, it was not by a lot, he said.
According to Pavel, “E-commerce companies have large volumes all the time, pandemic or not. They have projects for translation daily. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they increased, but they stayed close to the same.”
He added that, for now, the Qualtransloc team is focused on “keeping our existing clients satisfied, informing them of changes.” Some staff continue to work remotely, although a number, including Pavel, now report to the office “by choice, trying to return to normality and escape the house.”
He said, “We strongly believe that the industry will recover over the following months and 2021 will be a better year than this one.”