Sixth CTS Professionalisation Talk 2017-18

On 02 November 2017, Leeds CTS were treated to a video call from Rain Lau, a former Leeds student.

A Q&A Session with Rain Lau

Since Rain graduated in 2003, she has worked as a Language Lead for Lionbridge, a Language Specialist then Language Services Manager for Google, and now works as the Head of Language Services in the localization department at Deluxe Entertainment, a company that specialises in post-production. With experience such as this, it was a fantastic opportunity to hear about life in the real world and to gain some insight into the steps to take after graduation next year. It was an enjoyably informal talk, led in a Q&A style that will be reflected in the report, picking out the most pertinent questions and valuable answers about Rain and the industry.

Q: How did you start working in localisation?

It happened by accident. After university, I realised that I did not want to become an interpreter. Through a friend, I got a job in localization based in Taipei. This opened the door for me at Google later where I worked for nine years, moving from a Language Specialist, to a Team Lead for the region, to a Manager. However, I still didn’t see myself as successful. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I shared my story with a group of alumni that I realised I have been doing fine in my career. The main lesson I learned is that success comes in different shapes and sizes, and it is important to be open to new things.

Q: What are the most important skills to have within the translation/localisation industry?

1. Strong language capability

2. Curiosity: the ability to research what you are translating is very important, especially now that machine translation (MT) is becoming increasingly advanced. Also, translation companies may have their own translation tools and procedures, so learning how to use them is key

3. Understanding the full picture: i.e. why the client wants what they want

4. Communication: not just the ability to write good e-mails, but also the ability to know your audience and the purpose of communication to determine the appropriate channel to communicate e.g. when to create a document, when to put together a few slides, etc.

5. Taking pride in your work: make sure you are delivering what you believe to be the best, be able to stand up for your work but, also, learn when to be open to feedback/input

6. Time management: On Time Delivery (OTD) is key

7. Leadership

It seems like a big list but don’t be scared. You could be strong and successful in your own way specialising in a few of these talents.

Q: Could we get some tips on how to influence people without being an authoritarian?

Firstly, it is important to understand the big picture: Where is the business going? Does what you want to achieve align with that? If you want to do something else, why? Do you have a strong business case to present to the executives to get their support?  It is all well and good telling a story but it won’t necessarily resonate with the team. If you provide them with unquestionable data, it makes it a lot easier to convince.

Q: Is machine translation (MT), such as Google Translate, important? Should we embrace it? Is it affecting the status of the translator?

There is no reason not to embrace it. Technology has changed our lives drastically – ten years ago, I could never have imagined how I would use my mobile phone nowadays. It is the same within the translation industry. Technology like MT and translation memory - a linguistic database that continually captures your translations as you work for future use – aids us in term consistency, in efficiency, and in productivity so we shouldn’t be afraid of it. MT, or, even AI (artificial intelligence), can’t do a human job. At least, not yet; perhaps at some point in the future. Nevertheless, there are still many job opportunities for people with competent language skills, creative skills, and marketing skills, or even those who enjoy proof reading and post-editing.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you learnt at Leeds?

I can’t choose just one. Take advantage of working with classmates who are from all over the world, and really learn to be comfortable around them. I found the English for Interpreters lecture really useful. And, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Give everything a try because it doesn’t matter if you fail.

Reporters: Sze-Ying Lai and Sarah Williams