Who Went Where—The Week in Language Industry Hires

SDL recently appointed an Oracle veteran to head its online customer forum; and LanguageWire and Jensen Localization have both appointed new BDMs.

Meanwhile, on October 27, 2016, Iconic Translation Machines (Iconic) announced it had hired three new scientists to, among other things, integrate neural MT into the company’s machine translation software.

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This is the week in language industry hires.

Jian Zhang – Iconic

“I previously worked at Iconic as an Analysis Engineer. I left that position to study for my PhD in Machine Translation at the CNGL Research Center, Dublin City University,” said Jian Zhang, who rejoined Iconic from October 2016 as Machine Translation Scientist.

Zhang told us he is now about to complete his PhD, which focuses on domain-adapted and neural MT. At Iconic, his focus will be on exploring new domain adaptation techniques to customize their MT engines for specific subject areas (e.g., e-discovery, financial services). Zhang added that he has also been working on the company’s neural MT platform of late.

Based at the Dublin head office, Zhang reports to Iconic Technical Project Manager Donato Giuliano with a dotted line to CEO and co-Founder John Tinsley.

Asked how his new role differs from his first one with the company, pre-PhD, Zhang said, “Three years ago, my main focus was to implement tools and algorithms around machine translation (MT) applications. During my PhD, I gained a deeper understanding about state-of-the-art MT techniques, both statistical and neural.”

Zhang said his main job now is to improve MT quality by proposing new solutions to various issues and customize MT engines for specific sectors. His biggest career challenge, he said, is keeping abreast of the latest MT techniques given rapid developments, especially in neural MT.

According to Zhang, “Most of the new ideas come from research labs. Therefore, it is essential for me to continue to pay close attention to academia, follow the main machine translation conference publications, and collaborate with other machine translation researchers. This is a constant challenge for me, but one I enjoy.”

Asked where he thinks the next big breakthrough will occur in language technology, Zhang replied, “After neural MT, it’s actually quite hard to predict.” He said, however, that the technology that excites him most is deep learning.

“With the help of high performance computational power, [deep learning] shows remarkable advances in many areas, such as image recognition and speech processing. The most recent research also demonstrates that deep learning can bring significant improvements to many natural language processing applications,” he said.

Rohit Gupta – Iconic

Also taking on the role of Machine Translation Scientist at Iconic is Rohit Gupta. Like Zhang, Gupta started working at the company in October 2016, is based in Dublin HQ, and reports to Technical PM Giuliano.

Gupta has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, specializing in natural language processing. Prior to Iconic he worked at university on the EXPERT project (a collaboration between academia and the private sector), where Gupta did research on translation-memory matching and retrieval.

Today, he works on real world solutions for Iconic like developing domain-adapted customized MT engines for actual customers. Said Gupta, “Working on systems for real production environments is a big change, having previously worked on producing results with benchmark datasets—you can never account for the human factor!”

As for language technology breakthroughs, Gupta believes the next one will be in “stronger MT for resource-poor languages.”

Said Gupta, “Advances in language technology will allow us to tackle languages that don’t have a lot of parallel data available to train engines. If we can solve that problem, a lot of minority languages could benefit greatly.”

Bogdan Sacaleanu – Iconic

Bogdan Sacaleanu took on the role of Technical Consultant for Iconic back in August 2016. He reports to CEO and co-Founder John Tinsley and is based at the company’s head office in Dublin.

Prior to Iconic, Sacaleanu worked at IBM and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. “There, I was heavily involved in R&D for NLP systems and tools, in small and large projects,” he said.

Sacaleanu is an expert in natural language processing (NLP) and cognitive systems design, as well as having extensive experience in engineering highly scalable software systems. At Iconic, he is responsible for assessing and improving the design and architecture of the company’s MT products.

“I’ve always been fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI) and language,” Sacaleanu said, adding that he has spent most of his professional career studying and working in those areas. He said, “Machine translation is a unique combination of AI and language,” and working at Iconic allows him to work closely with MT experts while applying his knowledge of AI and NLP.

John Backx – SDL

John Backx joined SDL as Community Director from October 2016. Based in Amsterdam, he is tasked with driving the development of the company’s customer forum, called SDL Community.

Before SDL, Backx worked at Oracle, where he held several senior management posts in Customer Support. He was one of the pioneers in Oracle Support to initiate the My Oracle Support Community platform (MOSC), developing the technology into an alternative channel option for enterprise customers.

Backx started working for Oracle back in 1995 and served as Director of Software Support for seven years prior to his departure. Before that, he was an IT consultant for Atos Origin and Philips in the Netherlands.

Asked about his passions, Backx told Slator human behavior fascinates him—especially how social media helps companies better understand their customers.

Simon Wilson – LanguageWire

“Differentiation,” replied Simon Wilson when we asked him what he thought was the single biggest challenge in marketing language services today. “With some 32,000 LSPs out there, firms need to be able to promote themselves on more than quality and price,” explained LanguageWire’s new Business Development Manager.

Appointed to his post from October 5, 2016, Wilson is based at the company’s UK office in Wapping, London. He reports to Managing Director Tracey Schokman, who in turn reports to CCO Søren Schønnemann.

Wilson worked at business process outsourcing giant Capita in the two years leading up to his joining LanguageWire; and, 14 years before that, with BNP Paribas’ insurance subsidiary Cardif Pinnacle, “all in Business Development,” he said.

“LanguageWire is my first true exposure to language services and, although the role of BDM has many cross-industry similarities, it’s exciting to be venturing into a new service offering and market,” said Wilson.

Wilson developed an interest in language services after working at Capita, the mother company of Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI). Said Wilson, “After picking up on translation opportunities within my clients, I arranged various introductory meetings with a representative from our translation division. It was during these meetings that I took a keen interest in the industry.”

Nicolas Fontana – Jensen Localization

The lack of cultural awareness is, among the many challenges the industry faces today, “the biggest one,” said Nicolas Fontana, Business Development Manager at Jensen Localization. Fontana assumed his BDM role on October 10, 2016 and is based in Fuengirola, Spain. He reports to CEO Brian Jensen.

According to Fontana, because customers demand low prices for very fast deliveries, “there is a tendency [to use] translation techniques that are not the best ones for reaching the proper audience.” He cited as examples the use of non-native translators and free Web-based translation tools as two concerns.

Fontana joined the translation industry in 2011 by way of Lionbridge Poland. He was a Test Engineer in the company’s localization testing unit based in Warsaw. He eventually rose to the position of Language Lead.

“After that, I decided that it was high time to move back to Andalusia, where my brother and closest friends are located. Jensen Localization gave me the opportunity to be back in Costa del Sol, surrounded by professionals and very hardworking people,” Fontana told us.

He said that, for the moment at Jensen, they “all tend to assist each other” to keep the organization very flat and cost-efficient for customers. Said Fontana, “We will see what the future will bring [as regards] staff expansion; but I do expect several new colleagues in our Malaga office.”

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Marion Marking

Communications specialist, veteran journalist, and online editor at Slator who dreams of driving a Veyron on the Autobahn