Building A Good Localization Program – Camila Pedraza

How is a good localization program built? Find out in this interview with Camila Pedraza from Skillshare.

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How is a good localization program built? Find out in this interview with Camila Pedraza from Skillshare.


Andrej Zito 

Camila, welcome to the podcast.

Camila Pedraza 

Hi, thank you for having me.

Andrej Zito 

Thank you for accepting my invite. And since you’re from Skillshare, I hope that in this episode, you’re going to share all your skills that you have.

Camila Pedraza 

Well, we’ll try. I think that we’re going to get to that through your questions. I’m pretty sure you have very incisive questions. I’m happy to share what I can, which can be useful for other people, I guess is what I love about doing these types of interviews.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe, maybe let’s start with the notorious question. Where are you actually joining us from?

Camila Pedraza 

So I’m joining you from Paris. I’ve been living in Paris for seven years now. But I’m not from France. I’m Colombian and I moved here to do a master’s degree. And I ended up staying. And now, I work remotely for Skillshare.

Andrej Zito 

Did you study something related to localization? Or was it some completely different area?

Camila Pedraza 

So I studied literature first, and I did a BA in literature. And then I moved to France a couple of years after having done my BA and having already worked. And I came here to do a Master’s in Translation, Interpretation, Multicultural Project Management, just basically everything languages. That was a two year program. And as soon as I was done, I started working.

Andrej Zito 

What was the origin of the interest?

Camila Pedraza 

I mean, I had been working already a lot as an interpreter, running the translation program for a small boutique language service provider. And I was… the number one interest was really getting away. I wanted to live in a different country. You know, a lot of the times when you’re interested in localization, translation, it’s because you’re interested in other cultures and other languages. And so that was a lot of it. I just wanted, I always dreamed of studying elsewhere, living elsewhere, living abroad. This seemed like a great opportunity to come to France, perfect, let’s say, you can say that your French. At least make it good enough that you can make it part of your working languages. And, you know, get a degree gets, like Advanced Studies and in this specific sector, and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot. I was also able to apply a lot of what I had already learned in the years that I had worked before my Master’s. So that was, that was a mix of things. I guess a lot of it I kind of already knew. You pick up a lot when you’re working. But then kind of seeing it in an academic setting is very interesting as well, and being able to take time off to, to study and learn things and not just be working all the time.

Andrej Zito 

I have this one maybe strange question. Because when we, when we first had our chat, I sort of felt like, we are quite similar. And now that you mentioned that you wanted to escape from, from your country that reminded me again of myself, because that’s what I wanted to do. So I would like to ask how much of that escaping was related to the country that you come from? And maybe you felt, let’s say, restricted by the country, or the mindset of the people or anything else, versus you actually wanting to explore in let’s say, different cultures. Because to me, it was probably both. I also wanted to go out and explore the world. But I also didn’t feel like I belong to, let’s say, my country.

Camila Pedraza 

I completely understand that. And yeah, definitely similar feeling. So, I guess I always dreamed of living abroad, just as a general, I want to discover other cultures. I want to speak other languages. It just felt like when people asked about like, you are a superhero, and you could have any superpower, and everybody was like, be invisible. And I was like, speak all the languages. So this was definitely the type of thing I wanted to do. Just because. Then, when I say escape, I wasn’t, I don’t want to talk about it, like, Colombia was a prison that needed to be escaped, because I know, a lot of people are living in countries and in situations where you’re literally escaping when you leave the country. And that was not my case at all. But I did always feel a certain disconnect. So maybe because I grew up with American culture a lot. And so, it did feel, I felt very close to American culture in a way. And it’s not that Colombian culture is that different from it, but maybe a lot of what you were saying the mindset, and maybe not just Colombia as a country, but maybe more specifically the city you live in. And sometimes cities can be really small in the sense that you feel you know, everyone and sort of, you are restricted to you’ve always been. And then when you leave a country, you can just kind of reinvent yourself and be more of who you are and explore it in a different language and in a different culture. So it was a mix of both definitely.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, I’m curious how you came into touch with the American culture, was it friends or was a through media?

Camila Pedraza 

So my mother lived in the states for a while with my brother. And then so that was kind of something that was encouraged in the family. Same thing with French by the way. My, not, not English, in this case, not American culture. But I do have a French great grandfather. So there was a lot of like, “Oh, you should go to France.” It’s like going back to your origins type of thing. But for English specifically, I happen to for some reason, my mother and I and my brother at the time, we moved into an apartment building. It had cable. But the cable service only offered the channels in English, there were no subtitles, there was no dubbing. Maybe it was because our TV was kind of old. And maybe we were expected to use a system on the TV to get those subtitles or captions. I didn’t have that. So basically, I just grew up with American TV, just Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, all of those things. So while everybody else was watching other things, and they had like, like, a different childhood from mine, in that sense. I connect more sometimes with people my age in the States, because I grew up with even not just the program’s themselves, even advertising. So like jingles, and toys, and things that we didn’t even get back in Colombia but I know about because I grew up with that. And I maybe was like a sponge, I kind of just absorb that all and really loved it like American Christmas, things like that.

Andrej Zito 

Did you have the feeling like life in America is maybe better?

Camila Pedraza 

In lots of ways, yes. But I also do have to say that my brother and sister both moved when I was around 12 years old to the state, my brother to Miami, my sister to New York. So I have firsthand experience that there were things that I really enjoyed. You know, access to culture in cities, like New York. I lived in Bogota, which has no access to the ocean. We’re just like in a mountain, really. I have 2600 meters above sea level. So just the ocean, the different weather, museums, libraries, just a lot of things that I didn’t feel I had access back home. So yeah, that was interesting. Plus a bunch of things that didn’t get imported, you know. As a child, brands, toys, again, just clothing, lots of things like that.

Andrej Zito 

Now, let’s let’s go back into into our world of localization. My question is, you already mentioned like you did some some work, but how did you get into a localization? Like what you consider your first, let’s say, step into localization?

Camila Pedraza 

Right, so I came into this company called Business English Consultants, which was the boutique LSP, we were talking about. It was a small company back at the time focusing mainly on two verticals: interpretation, and corporate English lessons. So, mainly teaching CEOs in Colombia and another, you know, similar executives, how to, how to communicate in English effectively. And they, because of that, they got a lot of translation work, but they didn’t have anyone kind of to run that part of things kind of, to develop that side of the business. They were doing it more because they had clients who requested it. And when I came in, I developed that side of the business. So I was basically just running the translation department, you know, helping build cost structures, and, you know, negotiating and just, in general, what a program requires. And that meant also hiring people and ensuring that we had the right resources for, for the different needs of our clients.

And one, some of the clients that we came across, but one more specifically was Adidas that I worked with as well, they required more localization services. And so in the case of a data specifically, for example, and this is where I really understood how, you know, the world of localization works and how localization is different from translation. They needed us to localize not just into Spanish, but into five different variants of Spanish. So we started out with Colombian, and then we adapted our translations into the different variants. So Mexican, or, you know, Peruvian, or Argentinian. And so, a lot of it is sports. And sports is one of the areas where terminology is completely different from one country to another in Latin America. So we had a lot of fun, but it was very complicated also doing that, and then understanding just like, word or sometimes changes, you know. Things that you just wouldn’t say in another language, kind of, you kind of get rid of in the translation, because it’s just not gonna, it’s not gonna be sold. It’s not going to sell well, it’s not going to be understood. So that was my first approach. And obviously, this all happens in Excel files. So my first approach to localization was a lot also about learning macros, and learning how to filter and all of these formulas that actually kind of building something similar to a translation memory where I could… I have a good memory, I could remember that I had already translated something very similar, but try and go find it. Right, so a lot of just like, go and look for similar things using just like formulas and trying to get that in and using your own past work. You know, so a lot of it was localization as, as a, as an activity about, you know, mediating between cultures, and a lot of it was localization as the technical reality of dealing with translating.

Andrej Zito 

But you’re not you’re not that old. You’re, you’re younger than me. Were there no TMS tools at the time, or you just were not aware of them?

Camila Pedraza 

They weren’t. I wasn’t really aware of them. I was working with more like CAT tools. I knew CAT tools, but it was more again for specific projects and specific clients. You know, you know, this company wants me to work in this system. You know, try those, whatever. But Adidas wasn’t using that. I’m not sure why. Potentially because a lot of this content actually had to go back into a website. And so it was more like a database. And so it had to be structured differently. And we, we get, we got Excel files. That has probably evolved. This was like 15 years ago, or not, maybe not 15. But yeah, a while.

Andrej Zito 

What, what interested me is that you mentioned that you learned the difference between localization and translation. Maybe I would like to ask, like, what would you consider the difference between these two? I was recently recording some video where I was trying to explain what is localization. And I sort of incorporated translation into a localization. Like, to me translation is subset of localization. But let’s imagine I didn’t say this. So what would be your definition of localization versus translation?

Camila Pedraza 

Well, the first thing is, translation is a subset of localization. But most companies, and a lot of the work that you do in translation doesn’t necessarily have to be linked to localization at all. So if you’re like literary translator, for example, localization is usually not part of the issues that you’re looking into. Right. It’s not, you are translating, there is cultural differences. You have to figure that out. But you’re not actually localizing, you’re not making the book sound local. You’re not trying to take this thing that comes from a different culture and make it sound necessarily it was written in your language to begin with. It has to sound natural in your language, yes. But it can carry all of that foreignness with it, because maybe that foreignness is part of what makes the book the book.

Localizing, you have to get rid of the foreignness, that’s the number one thing. You have to make it local instead of global, you have to make it local instead of other abroad, you know, different. So I think that that’s what like one of the main differences. And so a lot of that goes through translation, yes. But a lot of that is also transcreation, adapting, and then things that are specific, I guess, to localization today. Static content versus dynamic content. So a lot of translation, as we’ve known, it typically happens in static content, things like books, right? You do it once. And when it’s done, I’ll have to update it adapt it. But when we’re looking into modern media, it’s constantly adapting to whoever’s looking at it. And that’s where localization is so interesting, because you have to look at how is this going to look for different people at the same content at just different points in time. It’s the morning, it’s the afternoon, they are buying things in pesos, or they’re buying things in Bali. Or it’s you know, like, if you just have to think about everything else. And it goes beyond language, it goes beyond words. And also that’s very interesting compared to translation, because translation is mostly focusing on words. Whereas localization is also looking into colors, images, icons, right? Where it just goes beyond words. So this is why not only translation is a subset in our world, because we work in localization. But I think a lot of translators don’t even have to worry or care about the notion of localization at all.

Andrej Zito 

Right, right. Okay. Makes sense. You mentioned the word adapting, yeah, that we are adapting. And like you mentioned, the whole world of localization and translation is evolving. So I would be interested in, in your kind of rich experience, where it was the moment that you felt like you really, really had to adapt? Sort of like a mind shift, change? Was it, was there something or was it just like a gradual evolution?

Camila Pedraza 

There, there are just projects where you just realize that you can you can state like so close to the source, it’s fine. And you’re focusing more on the intention of the writer, for example, which is what happens when you’re translating a book, right? You’re translating a poem, you just have to focus on what did this book mean? And what did this writer want to say, right? Whereas the closer you move to localization, you don’t care about the copywriter who wrote the copy in the first place, where you care about is what the company is trying to achieve, right? You want to respect what they did, but you’re trying to make this company work in a different country. And what does work mean? You want it to sell, you want it to be popular, you want it to be relevant, you want it to be respectful of the culture, right? So congrats to the original copywriter, I’m probably going to take your work and break it apart and recreate it as a new copywriter, right? Like just I’m gonna act and copywriter mode with my copywriter hat on and so there’s levels of it. Across sometimes like instructions, you know, error messages, that’s fine. The closer you come to companies that have a very strong voice, the more you realize that sticking with the original is just going to make you sound weird. And it’s not going to come across the way you expect it to come across in a different country in a different culture. So I don’t think I’ve ever felt one specific, you know, like, “Oh, this was the moment of discovery.” It’s more like “Oh, in this project, this is where it’s gonna get like really fun, and we’re going to struggle and we’re going to have a love hate relationship.” Because it’s going to be so hard, sort of getting this out there because it’s not translation. I guess poetry also is one of those where you realize that. Unfortunately, even if it’s still translation, additional creative work has to come in, you know. I’m gonna make it rhyme or I’m gonna use the same words, I’m going to use the same alliteration, but I can’t do it all at the same time. And it really confronts you to that sense of going from translation kind of one-to-one to a more broad, like a broader concept, and therefore closer to localization in that sense.

Andrej Zito 

Right. To me, what what surprised me was that your very early experience with the different flavors of Spanish. Because in my experience, most of the people just focus on the, on the on the big ones. They have the European Spanish, and then maybe they have the Mexican Spanish, which sometimes, sometimes they put all the Latin American Spanish is into into one big bucket. So to me, that’s that’s kind of like a new thing for me, but you had it quite early on. I know, I know, I was reading a long time ago, some some article about how many different Indian languages and dialects there are. But if you think about it, most of the companies, I mean, most of the companies, they still focus just on on the Hindi, right. But they don’t go, let’s say, hyper targeting the the other flavors in India, India. But in India, we’re talking about millions of people who speak different dialects. So if you were localized into that dialect into the specific, maybe you would earn some extra points, which is what you were talking about before with, with a company, building their reputation and doing something extra for the people in this country. Right. That’s what localization is about.

Camila Pedraza 

Definitely. And so I guess that depends on a lot of things. But I would say the number one thing, obviously, is budget. I think a lot of companies would be very happy if they had the capabilities in terms of budget in terms of people to run a localization program like that. But I think most people realize that translation is expensive, unfortunately, often very late in the process. That’s part of it. But it’s also again, as I was saying, the intention of the company. What the company’s, you know, putting out there and how present, they are in the country. Because a lot of companies that are localizing are localizing so that they can stay in their original country, original region, but still get some of that market from abroad. But that’s not the case of a company like Adidas, right? They’re very present in all of these different countries. One of the main reasons why they’re present is because they are the sponsors of many local teams. And so you can’t be the sponsor of a local team and not adapt to the vocabulary of that team. It’s just, it makes no sense. So if you’re trying to sell the you know, if you’re making the T shirt for the Colombian national football team, soccer team, right? You can’t sell it using Argentinian words, right, you have to sell it using the word that we use to talk about soccer in our country, because otherwise, it’s just going to be a disconnect. And we want to feel like Adidas represents us, right? So yeah, it’s a mix of both.

Andrej Zito 

Good. I was, I was thinking of how to, how to connect to the question that I have here that I shared with you. So just FYI, for the folks listening to this, I think our main focus with Camila will be to talk about workflows in designing and innovating the localization program, because from what I understood, that it’s like your sort of superpower. So, so you mentioned Adidas, which is, let’s say, there are reasons why to one, let’s say, do this hyper focus localization, and they really want to get into the mind of the people. How would you differentiate, building a localization program from scratch where the company has maybe not much interest or they don’t know yet that they should be interested in localization versus joining maybe, let’s say a company like Adidas, so you haven’t worked directly for Adidas, but let’s say a company where the program is already established? Which one would you actually prefer personally? Where do you see yourself thriving more?

Camila Pedraza 

That’s a great question. And it’s a very hard one to answer. Because I think what’s hard for me, what makes my job hard for me is the culture of the company and not the place they’re in with regards to localization. So if you go into a company like Skillshare, for example, where they’re just starting to grow internationally, because they’re already large, right in their segment, in their region. But when I come in, they already have all this set up, like an entire system set up. And what is that system? They have a VP of International, they have a Director of International Strategy and Operations, they’ve already understood the value, right? They don’t know how they’re going to localize. They need an expert in localization, they need to understand how to get the most out of how to build a program specifically for localization. They already understand the value of going global. And so you’re coming into a company that wants you to help innovate. And that’s really great.

You can also come into a company that has already established some sort of program, which can be a good program or a bad program. If they’re willing to make it better, because they understand what they’re getting out of making it better, that’s really great. Sometimes you come in, they want you to solve problems, but they’re not ready for change. And so this is the type of company I don’t want to join. It doesn’t matter if they’re advanced in their process or not advanced, it’s more like I can’t fight the entire company, because usually you’re on your localization person. So if the CEO is not aligned with me, I want to teach you, I want to be, you know, what I’m consider for localization, this is what I’m going to have to do, even when the whole company is on board, because pricing is always going to, you know, prevail over quality or things like that. So you’re gonna have to pull, you know, you’re gonna have to insist, you’re gonna have to push, you’re gonna have to do a lot of things on your own. But if you at least feel aligned, that’s really great.

So in my specific case, I love coming in and building things from scratch if I can, because it’s more of like, I’m a perfectionist in a lot of ways. And I want to get it right from the start. Unfortunately, it’s a dynamic process, you have to work you have to iterate. But if you can get it right from the start, or the best you can from the start, it’s just so less painful for everyone. And therefore the progress of the program is easier. Because things have been smooth from the beginning. Instead of coming in and saying, how about, we take your code apart, we can do internationalization the right way so that we can localize the right way, right? You’ve been working on this code base for years and years and years. And it’s going to, it’s going to be just super painful when you can come in and do it from scratch. It’s such a pleasure, like, personally, and most people don’t see it, because they’re just, they’re just getting this help from the start. But for people who have already gone through the process of refactoring their entire code, so that they can incorporate internationalization and localize appropriately, they know how painful it is. So they, they tend to back me up on this. So yeah, definitely, not so much the company, but the spirit, the culture of change, innovation.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah. So, so here, maybe, maybe share your experience or tips for people who are looking for the same thing. Because I totally agree with you that if you want to make changes make things better, but you don’t have the support, it’s kind of like another good environment for people to be in. So how would you actually discover or make your, make yourself sure that the company is going to support localization? So you joined Skillshare? Did you find out or were you convinced about their intention regarding to localization during your recruitment process? Or are you just finding it out after you joined? Is it possible to find out before you join a company?

Camila Pedraza 

For me, a lot of, a lot of happened during the interview. Yes, definitely like the interview process. One of the things that really stood out to me was the job description. It felt very knowledgeable. It felt like they understood what a localization person does, which often is not the case, unfortunately, you see it and you’re like, I think they know that they need a localization person, but they don’t understand what the person does. And that doesn’t mean that they’re not necessarily super open to what you want to do, and how the program will work and how much budget and time and effort it will require. But it might be a red flag. Not a deal breaker, just walking with caution, because they might not know what it is that they want. And you might have to sort of bend to their will and adapt to whatever is already going on. Because they just need someone to take care of it. They don’t necessarily want a program, they don’t want a strategy. They just want someone to problem solve what they already have.

In the case of Skillshare, I really appreciate it. Yes, reading the job description made me feel like they understood, like they get me. This is like I could really see myself in the description, which was really fun in that sense. But then walking into the interviews, just asking about what they had in place and why they wanted to go global and right. I think a lot of the time and this is just a general interview suggestion, not just for localization. We see interviews as employees, as you know, something that you have to sort of go through and suffer and endure, and you just answer questions. But I’m just, I become with time, so much more proactive in my questions, and just asking more and being very critical, right? So that was one thing, just asking a lot about the program. Who’s involved? When did you decide this? What have you invested already, like, why do you want to do this? What’s, what’s moving you forward? And so there’s the answer, kind of like, “Well, our clients requested it kind of like, this is just a burden for us.” If you want a culture of growth and innovation, step away. This is going to be you with the clients, along with the clients, fighting the entire company on getting things done right in localization. This is something that they have to do but they don’t want to do. They’re obligated to do it. Versus we see the potential, we, we’ve seen the growth, you know, we understand. So for B2B companies, it’s more the clients asking for languages and the company implementing it because they have.

In the case of Skillshare, it’s a B2C company. So the clients are not requesting anything. You want to sell to those individual users, you have to bring the value to them. There’s more chance, there’s more opportunity for evolution in that sense, if they still haven’t got it. A company like Adidas, figured that all out a long time ago, it might be more, it’s such a large company that it’s hard to get things moving, because it has to go up so many steps. And the hierarchy might be complicated. So asking lots of questions has been really useful. And understanding the intentions behind that. Kind of maybe if you get a sense of how much they’ve already invested, they’re not necessarily gonna give you a number. But hiring programs that they have in place, you know, ideas for the program, things they’ve already scoped out, gives you a sense of where they want to go, how much they want to learn about, about the whole process. And again, I’ve also felt through interviews, that the hiring manager kind of just doesn’t understand the subject and wants to get rid of it, versus is very interested in the subject and wants to own it along with you. So that’s also very fun for me. And it’s something that I definitely found at Skillshare. There’s a lot of mentorship, and that says you can learn, that they want to learn from you as well, they want to treat you as a consultant in a way internally. So definitely some some clues there to, to getting more info about where the company’s going with localization.

Andrej Zito 

If we if we go outside localization and maybe still focus on the hiring process, is there anything else that you’re looking in the company’s culture that maybe suits you? As a person?

Camila Pedraza 

Yes. So in general, that openness and willingness to learn and teach is very important to me. Localization can be often restricted to product and I’ve had that in the past. And sometimes in the case, like in this case of Skillshare, it’s just like a company wide program. We have to work with marketing, we have to work with legal we have to work with product and engineering, yes, but also support, etc, etc. For me to be able to do my job appropriately, as you were saying, what I like to do is basically troubleshoot and connect the dots and build a strategy and build a program around what already exists. I’m going to change a lot of it, I’m going to try to change a lot of it. But I want to know what’s happening. And if the people that are there are not willing to take the time to teach me and get me involved, and show me the ropes, it’s going to be hard for me, because I’m an expert in localization. I’m not an expert in marketing, I’m not an expert in code. I’m not an expert in support. I’m not an expert on Zendesk, I’m not an expert, right. So I need to be able to come in and work with people that are happy to be like, let me give you a tour of our repository, let me give you a tour of our stack, let me give you a tour, right. So a lot of, I appreciate a lot of culture interviews that some companies do, where you get to speak to people outside of the specific team that you’re going to be working with. Because it gives you a sense of how things are working outside of that team, that team might be great. But once you need to start working outside your team, everything goes to help because nobody’s willing to help and give you that time. So I appreciate those. And in the case of Skillshare, it was very helpful in understanding how much of a, just a culture of collaboration there is, which a lot of companies like to brag about, but not necessarily actually implement. It’s not actually happening. A lot of teams kind of hate each other kind of like the Development and Engineering can hate Sales. Like, well, yeah, because they they’re not communicating. And so I need to work with teams that are happy and willing to communicate, because that’s what allows me to do my job well.

Andrej Zito 

So, so in your case, let’s say you joined Skillshare. Would you on your own, initiate the meetings with the people? Like “Hey, I want to learn something about this.”

Camila Pedraza 

So that’s 100%, my personality, again. I’m very, very lucky to work with a very proactive boss who sort of set up a bunch of meetings for me so that I could start get started on conversations with people that she, she knew were key to my progress. But this is what I normally do. Because again, normally, I’m very lonely in that role, I get to do a lot of things, I get to wear many caps, but I’m working on my own. So definitely something that has helped personality wise. And I know a lot of us out there as localization managers are shy, you know, and again, you’re very lonely, and you maybe don’t have that support. But you need to be willing to go out there and sort of build yourself what I call my virtual team. People that are not officially working for you, but technically you’re, they’re the ones doing helping you out with everything, you know, helping you move things forward, being ambassadors for localization, you know, helping you out when you’re in difficulty. So, yeah, you have to build yourself that network and that team. People who will help you problem solve because I’m not an engineer, I can come up with the ideas, I can think like an engineer, I can, based on my experience, kind of know what engineers capable of doing and sell them on that. But, but if I don’t have the engineers willing to do that, and if I have to go through their project manager who’s already has you know, they have a schedule, and everything’s like taken, there’s no time for anything else. I can go to an engineer and say I’d love to solve this problem and if they’re happy to come on board and help you solve it, they’re gonna find a way to sell that into, you know, the refactoring of the code or, you know, as part of what needs to be done with the code. So you do have to find that, and you have to go out there and do it on your own. Unfortunately.

Andrej Zito 

That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you. Because now you said, the critical thing for me is that, you know, maybe a little bit about engineering. You know how they think and what is important to them. And what about the people who don’t have this experience? Yeah. Would you, would you would you tell them to do at least some basic research? Like know, at least some basics about product development, marketing and sales before you go talk to the people about localization? Or is it okay, if I just go there, and I have no idea what the people do?

Camila Pedraza 

I do recommend getting some knowledge beforehand. So a lot of people who work in translation are already kind of familiar with this, because as a translator, you maybe studied languages, you maybe studied literature, and then you have to become familiar with all of these different subjects that you’re translating, right. But a lot of the time, you don’t have to be familiar, you just familiar with the sort of against static text on your own with your little dictionary working, right. And that’s fine. It’s a very safe environment, and you’re allowed to have 1000s of questions, and you know, use Google. But then when you’re an, in an actual conversation with an engineer, he has to understand what you want, and you need to understand or try to figure out what it is that he can do, and how he can help you. And so unfortunately, a lot of people move from translation into localization without having this knowledge. So marketing, I think is sometimes easier, it’s like less mystical, or less like, it feels like you need a degree to you know, like, understand a little bit about marketing. Same thing with support, these are just, you know, you don’t go to university to learn support. Like people from all walks of life do support. But engineering feels like, you know, you have to speak like matrix code.

So it’s very, it can be very, I don’t know, alienating for a lot of people who’ve come into localization from translation, when you’re more into like the human side of things and culture and words. And then you have to come in with as engineers, think about everything in numbers and there. So I do recommend just for the hell of it, you should come on, it’s 2021. Take a class in coding, like basic HTML basic, basic JavaScript, basic, just get a sense of how these people work. And then just being in that environment, having to solve problems as an engineer, right, really brings you closer to them. But then also, when they talk to you, they’re not speaking in Klingon, you actually understand at least enough that you can have a productive conversation right? Again, and not have to go through the product manager or the director of product. Because it’s sometimes harder to go through those people, you know, you want to build your network of peers, and not just go up the ladder. So definitely recommendation there. Do go take some classes in coding. It’ll, it’ll help you a lot.

Andrej Zito 

Does Skillshare also have coding classes? Or is it mostly for the artistic?

Camila Pedraza 

I guess they’re, no, there are some that are yes, on like, more like web design. And so aspects of that, but that are related to coding. But Skillshare’s niche is more the creative side of things, crafts, and arts and just exploring people’s creative side. So everything related to that. Now we have a lot of cooking and lifestyle as well, you know, interior design, because it’s all related to again, being creative and exploring that side of yourself. Think there’s other platforms that offer more technical courses. But it’s a great way to start, like web design is really interesting, specially if you’re afraid of going into like a full blown coding class. Because there’s more like also the the graphic design, the graphic aspects of web design, which might be interesting in a way to sort of segue into coding.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, so now I’m going to go back a little bit, because you gave me so many little threads that I’m going to start pulling right now. So before that you were mentioning that, and maybe when you said it, you even thought it I’m going to ask about it. You mentioned good programmers, bad program. How, what is the different definition for you? Good programmers and bad program. How do you know? When is the program good? When is it bad?

Camila Pedraza 

Okay, so I think the first thing is, does the program know where it’s going? That’s the one, number one thing for me to understand. Because I feel that a lot of the times there’s things that are working like yes, we are repo is connected to a translation management system, and there’s translators and yet, but do we understand this? Do we have a strategy? Do we have a vision for the, for this program? Do you have a mission? Do we do we have standards, right? All of that I think are indispensable to a good program. Some companies have managed to kind of get it right because they happen to be working with a good TMS and they happen to maybe work with a developer or with some developers that are good at this or have worked with localization in the past or doing are doing it right, you know, kind of like by luck. But most of the times it’s not the case. Unfortunately, it’s kind of done quickly. It’s not done thoroughly. It’s done by developers who are just discovering localization for the first time. Right. And again, I focus a lot on the product side of things, because I think it’s the most complicated side of things most of the time because of how much you know how many technical aspects there are. But there’s there’s other things that I can also mention for other sides of the business. But yeah, definitely understanding that, that where it’s headed, what we want to achieve with this, again, as a business, just how is localization? How is your localization program or process, processes? How are they aligning with what the business wants to achieve? Then again, how is it being implemented within the company, but also outside the company? Most companies are not doing localization in house, they’re just doing what needs to be done so that things can get localized. Have we been thorough? Have we implemented everything? Are we just kind of like translating the messages that appear on the website? Or are we also going into all the different aspects of localization? You know, currency, times, dates, you know, plurals for all these other languages that have more than than one plural, etc. So just getting that set up correctly.

Also, with the design team, I don’t know how many websites still use flags to represent languages, for example. And this is not the responsibility of the developers, right? A lot of them just, you know, by default, they’ve seen it elsewhere, they might implement it. But there’s also about like, the culture in the company. So making sure that people are considering localization throughout the process. If I realized that nobody’s thinking about localization, until we have to translate at the end of the process, that’s a bad program. Localization has to be in your like, in everyone’s mind, from the start. So a good program is a program where localization is part of the general culture of the company as a whole. Also, just again, focus on quality, obviously.

Unfortunately, localization and translation are, because of the price, because of the effort that’s required there, you’re riddled with bad localization, bad translation. And not all providers, they’re not necessarily bad, but they’re not the right provider for you. And a lot of programs didn’t actually have anyone in charge of vendor management. So just goes out to like machine translation, or some like, random different translator every single time. You want to build a program, you need consistency, right? You need relationships, you need to develop those relationships. So if nobody knows who the name of the account manager for the, for the vendor is, right? If we don’t have any resources for those vendors, glossaries, terminology, you know, all of those style guides. That’s also the sign of a bad program, right? It’s not developed enough. We’re not, we’re not investing enough efforts internally. And a lot of companies think it’s the fault of the, of the agency that they’re working with, like all their translations are terrible, but then you look at the source, and you looked at the lack of resources, and you look at the lack of context, and then you say, “Well, they’re doing what they can.” And a lot of agencies, I think, have lost the will to sort of educate because clients says one of some things and get them translated. So a sign of that is, nobody in the company’s interested in the program. So that leads to just bad programs.

Andrej Zito 

That is, that is interesting that you brought this up, because yes, I have witnessed many times that from a vendor, if you are a project manager on the vendor site, sometimes it’s very difficult to convince the localization manager first of all, and of course, if you don’t convince them, then there’s no chance that you can convince the client’s whole company to change something. So you talked also about like aligning the company on this. So I’m wondering, what would be your advice like, how to get people aligned? Or are you trying to highlight the benefits specifically for let’s say, each different people? Let’s say, you’re talking to sales, you’re talking about numbers and ROI? If you’re talking to engineers, you’re talking about, I don’t know, we’ll get the localization done faster? Or it would be smaother, better experience for the, for the users? If you’re talking to the dev team? What would be your strategy? So that that’s one question. And let’s say let’s focus on if you are a localization manager. And then my second question will be, what can you do if you’re on the vendor side?

Camila Pedraza 

Oh, okay. That one’s harder. Yeah, that one’s harder. So before I started with that, I do have to say that, as a localization manager, we were saying, like, sometimes you work in the agency, and you can’t convince a localization manager, I find that so unfortunate. A lot of people come into the localization management role, not knowing anything about localization. They’re just project managers who happen to know, be assigned this and it’s, it’s really terrible because it requires so much knowledge and expertise to do it right. So if it was an agency, you can’t really get through your localization manager. That’s really very sad. And I do tend to say this a lot to the, to the prospective vendors and to the vendors that I work with that I act kind of as a double agent. You know, as a buyer, I’m trying to get the best price. I’m trying to get, you know, the best quality. I’m trying to get all of the best services that I can for the least amount of money without obviously under paying the translators because that’s, that’s very important to me I want to work with companies that do fair pricing. But still, you don’t want to be overcharged, right? But when I’m, when I’m, when I’m going back to the company, I’m kind of representing these agencies that I know can do great work for us. So I’m kind of trying to sell the company on working with these different vendors, right, so I’m playing the double agent role throughout. So as an advocate, internally, as a localization manager, that needs to be an ambassador for her program, I definitely have to learn to talk people’s, you know, their language. So what part of that is getting people to do what you want them to do?

You know, like engineers to help you out with things, but then selling them on the program, getting the budget, a lot of that is you yourself learning about the benefits that are specific to not just that vertical. Marketing, for example, but to your company, specifically, what is it going to bring? Skillshare, specifically, and marketing within Skillshare, not just marketing in general. So it’s a lot about, you know, doing your research, but also just listening in on conversations. I realize a lot of the time, a company’s not giving enough priority to localization, but every time I go to like a big name meeting, or just like higher management, they’re all talking about international. And you know, and it’s so, I use that as a, as a stepping stone, you know, like, Oh, you mentioned International, what are your, you know, so like, finding the right moments to step in and sort of drive the conversation forward, when you see other people bringing the subject to the table, because it seems important to them is one of that, one of those things. Talking their language, definitely. One of the things that for example, I’ve had to do to convince developers to sort of like refactor translation files is performance. So any good developer wants their app to perform well, they don’t care about file being in order, it’s some of them are very interested in, you know, like, they’re interested in just translation. And then they’re interested in getting things done right for the user, one of their end users for translators themselves. But a lot of them are just like, we don’t have the time for this. But then if you start saying, Well, what about performance? What about the fact that it’s taking you this number of seconds to load this file, when it should be taking milliseconds? Because we should be splitting this into five different files, like, shouldn’t be loading everything at the same time. So once you start learning about that, it’s so much easier to get people on board, because they see the benefits.

But again, if there’s no push from the company, as a whole, you know, international in the interest of internationalizing, addressing, it’s very hard for you to do it on your own. You can’t you can’t achieve it. And you have to be a great negotiator, and salesperson, but you have to bring both together, kind of like it has to come from the top, and it has to come from the bottom, and you have to sort of, to help people meet you halfway. Otherwise, it’s very hard, like, they might be interested in the benefits, but they are not getting that push from management. And so there, there’s always going to be a more important priority. Even if localization is a priority, have to just help, you know, move it up the ranks. You asked about the vendor, do you want to talk? Yes, yes. Yeah, that’s one of the things where it’s been easier for me because I, you know, I ask lots of questions. I’m very pushy with vendors, I’m very transparent as well. But I ask them a lot, I am demanding, I know. I am on top of things all the time. So I think it’s painful for them to work with someone like me. And that makes a lot of sense. A lot of them are grateful. And I get a lot of like, “Wow, it’s been, I would never work with a localization manager.” That’s like these people are translators that are, they see that I’m so involved, which is really fun for me. And at the same time, it’s going to lead them, if one thing goes wrong, you know, I’m going to them, it’s not gonna be so, so fun for you.

But I do feel and I have realized that one of the things that vendors try to do, and I do understand why you’re doing this, you’re marketing your company, you’re trying to get that client. And so you will convince the client that you can do anything that they want, right? Of course, you send us the files, and we’ll get them done. And it’s going to be perfect, and the quality is amazing. And we pick own translators, but they don’t push enough on what’s going on, on your side of things as a client, you know. Like, do you have a localization manager in place? One of the things that’s going to make sure that your translations are amazing is having a glossary, is having terminology, is having a do not translate this, is having a style guide. Do you guys have those resources in place? Because we can help you, we can get that translated out there. But we have no context if we want, you know, if you want us to be your partner, we need to integrate as much as we can, still being an outside company, we’re still not going to be part of your company. So you have to bring that to the table or we can offer those services. We can come in, we can extract terminology, you know, we can work with your product managers, this, many agencies offer this service. But there’s so much focusing on, on you know, like getting the big contract sometimes. And again, because it’s difficult to try and convince the person that you’re negotiating with, often not even a localization manager, just a vendor manager or the head of product or whoever, that they don’t focus on these things. They’re not transparent about you know, we can help you. We can help you understand the how to hire for a localization manager. There’s so many services that they could offer to help become, be more independent, and that’ll make them better better partners, but also make life easier for themselves. I guess, I guess there’s a lot of that, that needs to be developed. But it’s hard to because I haven’t worked on the vendor side a lot. I started out on the vendor side. But I’ve worked mostly for clients ever since.

Andrej Zito 

So I understand the part where you, as a localization manager have to speak different lingo to the different people from different departments, right? To, to get them on your side. But if I’m the vendor, and I’m working with a localization manager, what is the lingo to convince the localization manager to start doing something, let’s say when I see potential for change, that could be beneficial, let’s say, long term? What would convince you?

Camila Pedraza 

So I feel that, in my case, it’s very specific. I do, I have had a lot of meetings with vendors where they come in, and they are trying to sell me on the company, “Oh, we’ve been on the market for 16 years. And this is the name of our founder.” And it’s like, this is not interesting to me, like I if I want that information, I can figure it out, you can put it in the deck that you’re gonna send my way. That information is not getting through to my head, it’s not really gonna decide whether I want to work with you or not, it’s not, you know, not a pro for me, in that sense. So that language doesn’t really work. I’m not sure why companies push so much on on this type of thing. There’s also for the vendor to, to try and discover where the localization manager is at. It has also happened to me where they’re basically explaining localization to me. We don’t, I don’t have time for this. So if you, if you kind of understand where I’m at, and meet me there, it’s just going to be so much simpler, bring the right person to the conversation.

So a lot of the times I send an email, very detailed, this is what I need. This is what we’re looking at, this what our localization program is looking at, you should get from them, that I am already one step ahead. I don’t need the sales team I’ve already come in, I’ve already said that I probably want to work with you. They will still send me on a meeting with a salesperson that can’t answer any of my questions. Very salesy. Very like, oh, we’re great. We’ve worked with Samsung, we’ve worked with Microsoft. And it’s like, I know, I saw this on your website. Can I, can you please answer whether you can work with this? You know, so I feel like a lot of the things that the vendors can do is, and I know this takes a lot of time, out of people’s busy days, but bring more people to the conversation. So that you can adapt in real time and be more flexible to the needs at that point of time.

One of the vendors that I work with, and they’re amazing, you can bleep this out of you’re not gonna want to name any names. Their name is Word Bank, I’ve worked with them in the past, I’m not working with them right now. So they’re not, you know, I’m not their client currently. But one of the things that I really appreciate that they do, and I’m sorry, I’m giving your secret sauce away, but is they bring so many people into each conversation. It’s never a salesperson doing the pitch, we have, you know, the person who works in terminology, the person that works with SEO, the person, you know, your account manager, also the CEO, also the customer success person, right? They’re there. And so they can together, brainstorm with you and build the program with you, instead of just coming in and saying, this is all we can do for you. But you’re just lost as to what part of that is what I really need. Instead of just selling me on your entire portfolio, come build it with, come into the conversation with me and help me figure out where we’re missing things, but also just respond to what I’m already asking you to do. And I think a lot of companies have a hard time doing that. I’ve had so many terrible, terrible conversations with salespeople that don’t know their product at all. And I’ve just, it’s just led me to just find another agency. So definitely bring more expertise into, into early conversations, especially if you can tell that these people you know, they are, they’re kind of, they kind of know what they’re doing. They’re not just kind of exploring blindly, they can be very helpful.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe one thing to clarify. So thank you for sharing. But what I was also curious is that if you already have this established relationship with your vendor. Established, okay. Then they have some idea. So how do they pitch that new idea to you? Let’s say you’ve been doing this localization for Skillshare, let’s say two years, everything’s working, you’re happy. And suddenly there’s this one project manager who thinks, oh, we, I think maybe we should do something differently? What would be the conversation to have with you and what would be the benefits to highlight for you, so that then you can maybe take it to your company?

Camila Pedraza 

Well, I would say that that’s going to be unfortunately very specific to to the localization manager. I feel sometimes the people you’re talking to don’t know how to read the room or know how to read the specific person you have in front of you. But I think that for vendors that have an ongoing relationship with you, having occasional check-ins is a great way to do that. I think a lot of, a lot of relationships are kind of like project based, like we need to kick off the project and then we kind of disappear. We, we kind of give you updates, and then we send everything back. And that’s it. But if you’re having continuous check-ins, it’s so much easier to introduce these types of subjects. Instead of just coming in and trying to sell you on something because that, for me, is the most boring thing you can do. Like I don’t, I hate to be marketed to that way, I don’t enjoy it. It just feels like you want to earn more money from me. And I don’t necessarily need what you’re offering. So if you’re coming in and asking the questions, and really being aware of what’s happening, when you come in with the solution, it doesn’t feel like you’re just saying, like, oh, there’s this new thing that we do that you can pay us for.

No, it’s more like, we did this with another client, that this was their process. This was what you know, we did for them. And this is how things improved. If I can identify myself in that kind of like a good business case, good case study, then it’s easier for me to say, Wait, I can also do that, like, how do you think this could benefit us? Then you have to know so much about my business to sell it to me in a way that makes sense. And I feel that a lot of vendors don’t have that, again, they’re not partners enough. They just have an account manager, yes. You know, gathers needs, sends files back, disappears. So I would I would suggest the more ongoing relationship that can really come in and help with that. If they brought in a lot of people with as I was saying, just technical experts, you know, it’s not just the account manager, but other people, it’s easier also for me to say, is there a subject you want to discuss? I will bring in people from my technical side, I will bring in people right from the marketing side, because I know that I’m not just sitting in front of a salesperson that can’t answer the questions. We can actually sit down and start brainstorming straightaway. So again, that’s also very helpful in that case, just bring in the people who can actually give you all of the details, and not just someone who’s trying to sell you on the pretty package. Can, can be very helpful. Does that make sense? Does that answer your question?

Andrej Zito 

It does. But I’m thinking, I’m not sure how to well, I’m just going to ask it. So what if the localization manager is not open to changes? Is there a, is there a way how you as a vendor can affect something on the clients’ localization program? Let’s say, maybe, I don’t know maybe in your world, it’s not something that’s likely to happen. Because to me, you are all about let’s make things better, let’s innovate. But if you are a vendor, and you have this localization manager who maybe ended up in the role by accident, and is not really invested in it, what power do you have?

Camila Pedraza 

I understand. So yeah, definitely, you can come across that type of situation, I think that it can come from two different areas, either this person is not interested. But also because sometimes his translation managers or localization managers are on, our hands are tied. And one of the things that I think really helps is that more of transparent relationship that you can have with that person where you can go ahead and ask like, I think I have a solution for you. It looks like this, you know, very, very brief about it. I think it can help with this, I’d like to know more about whether you think it’s useful. But if you don’t think it’s useful, I’d like to know whether it’s, you know, because of pricing, are you like, limited in terms of budget? Do you think it’s more of a, you’re strapped in terms of staff? You know, you’re not gonna have the engineers to implement this, like, how can we help in that case. Also try to understand where this person is coming from and why they’re not interested. Because you know, that, of course, if you’re working with a localization manager that doesn’t really want to partner with you, there’s nothing you can do. But there’s some that really, it’s not so much of them, as they just know that they don’t have the cash for it. And so maybe you can come in and say, listen, you’ve been a client for a long time, why don’t we try it out for free? If you like it, you can keep it you know, like, you can negotiate and, and try and sell the benefits, right?

Sometimes a lot of it is that I just don’t have the budget to work with. So I’m not interested in doing this right now. But for me a lot of the time is, I just don’t have the engineering team. So anything you come up with, you come at me with, I can’t really implement it right now. If it, if it means that I have to do things on my own, technically speaking. I can, exploring things together, offering, like, let’s set up a call so that we can like explore this together, not just like, I’m gonna send you the information or the deck or let me sell you on this. Like, let me show you let me guide you through it. I know you don’t have a lot of time, how about a 15 minute call? You know, like, I think that all of that is the result of just a better partnership and better knowledge of who you’re talking to, which I don’t think a lot of maybe bigger vendors have. I do have to say that I step up, I stay away from a lot of bigger vendors, because I always feel like I’m the small fish instead of the big fish. So I never get the personalized service. I don’t get it. Smaller companies, you do get that. Just that you understand where I’m coming from, we can be honest, I can tell you, I don’t have the budget right now. Right? I can be, I can, I can put those words on the table. I can be very explicit, and you can help me instead of just trying to sell me on something. Now. I guess that helps but hard, hard to because I’m not that type of person. Anticipating for the opposite personality. A bit difficult. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

But so in your own way. Let’s, let’s reverse the tables. Have you ever had this situation where you thought that the company that you were working for, and you’re managing your localization program, that there is something new that you should, you should test out or try out. But you didn’t see any clear, let’s say, positive ROI. In terms of numbers, it didn’t add up. But you sort of felt like we should try this. Have you ever had those?

Camila Pedraza 

I have had those and in fact, unfortunately, localization, even though there’s so many, like ROI formulas and measures and things, it’s very hard to say this is what’s getting us the users. Really, it’s just that specific translation, it’s this, you know, there’s so many things that go in there. I know, I normally prefer to talk about localization as an ROI enabler. Because it helps with the ROI. It sort of sets the stage, it allows us to go out into that market, but it’s actually the marketing team and the product that are going to have to do the work to make sure that we are getting those customers. It’s not, we can help make it happen. But it’s not going to be just it’s not going to be the translation that’s going to bring us the money. It’s not, it’s not the translation of a book. Does that make sense? It’s not, it doesn’t work like that. So again, I think it comes down to the culture, I have had different situations where I think like, I think it’s going to be best for us, if we invest more in this, I think we’re going to get more out of it. So a lot of that is also discovering, like, weird ROI indicators. And also, like ROI, not as a return on investment, where it’s like, specifically, like money or users.

One of the ones that I really like is, for example, support. So one of the things I’ve noticed is that when you have bad quality in translation, the people who get the worst end of it is support. Because localization is so bad, but it leads to people being frustrated with the product, not understanding how it works, and reaching out, right. And so a lot of that is testing like, what if we improve, you know, a little bit, and then what we’re seeing is, instead of having 9000 tickets a day, they’re gonna have 5000 tickets a day, right? So it doesn’t seem like a straight path to like, oh, we’re gonna earn so many more millions, but you have to identify what parts of the business are in pain. Because if you can help solve the pain, right, it’s just going to be so much more fun for everyone, number one. Number two, it’s going to create the confidence and trust around your ideas, which I think is something that you definitely have to do when you want to start kind of going out there. And you know, with your blue sky thinking and coming up with ideas that are less hard to prove, if you already have built like a history of doing things that improve the business, make people’s lives easier, that’s gonna really help.

The other thing is running it through or with the help of departments within your company that are kind of fall in, they fall into that same category. And one of those is the UX UI. So user experience is the type of thing where, you know, there’s so many, like, there’s so much dogma and how things need to be done and right? But where is the scientific evidence and numbers to back this up? It’s super hard to say, like, you know, maybe we change the copy on a button, we’re gonna get so many more users. But how do I say like, definitely changing the entire brand colors from green to blue, is gonna bring us more users, right? It’s much more subjective. So getting the help of areas of the company like that, is, can be very useful in understanding how to sort of sell or maybe do some research around it. So if I’m going to be quantitative, if it’s going to be qualitative, like we, we asked around, and this is what we got from a test of 20 users from among our highest, you know, biggest plate paying clients, things like that. So I do recommend going to, to the more subjective, I don’t know, professions who have a harder time also selling but, but they’ve come up with ways of doing it. And I guess, a lot of that is just user research. It really helps. And it doesn’t have to be like, you know, we are 100% sure we’re going to get more users. It’s just, it’s showing positive reactions, we’re getting positive reactions from people. And this might be a way we, you know, we can start testing and we can, we can look into things. Another thing is testing actually.

So not going full out on an idea. But like, let’s look at a language where we think we could see some improvement and work just on that, just on that language. Let’s not just change providers for our entire catalogue for all of our languages. Let’s just look into this one, I know that we’re maybe planning to go on like, build, like, maybe open an office in that country, right. So just try to follow where the business is going and, and come up with ideas that are aligned with what’s already happening. Can be, that can be very helpful. So if you want to run a test, they’re going to be much more open, because they’re already investing so much money and time and effort into that, and you’re doing something that might actually help the business. So yeah, gut feeling, I guess I always try to go after I’ve already built like a reputation for doing things. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Are you somehow utilizing A/B testing in localization?

Camila Pedraza 

Not yet, but it’s something I’d love to do. So, by the way, Skillshare does a lot of A/B testing. And so that’s something I want to learn more about how they do it, and how we can incorporate localization into it. I’ve been looking at great examples of how Netflix and Pinterest specifically have set up like entire systems and workflows for testing localized copy, and learning a lot from that. So something I want to get into, but I haven’t explored it yet enough.

Andrej Zito 

Speaking of the weird metrics that you you mentioned, what would you consider let’s say, the key KPIs? So KPIs, just KPIs for you as a localization manager.

Camila Pedraza 

So again, for me, it’s same way that I built a program. I don’t have a one formula that works on every company. It’s the same thing with KPIs, I just need to know where the company’s headed and understand, you know, what we are willing to work with as well. Unfortunately, as a localization manager that cares a lot about quality of translation, if I had it my way, I would definitely run everything through like three step translation process with editors and proofreaders and, you know, like, testers, and, but it’s something that just like, it’s not just money, it’s also time. You don’t have the time to do that you don’t have this resources internally to handle a program, maybe that size, etc, etc. So you do have to sort of learn to play the way that the business plays and understand that there are things that where we are saving money. Where we are, you know, trying to be more efficient, let’s say, and, and so building ROI, so based on that, so right now, at a company like Skillshare, for example, we don’t have the notion of like the big client, where, for me, the biggest KPI is just, we don’t want to lose the biggest clients that we have. And we don’t want to lose any of the biggest prospective clients that we have.

So if I have a very big client, who’s saying that they absolutely need to have Hebrew in the platform, how much is it going to cost us? And how much money are we going to get to keep every year because we’re making this client happy? It’s very straightforward. Same thing. I also like building very strong connections with sales because of this. Like, get me the info, what are these clients asking for? Because if you tell me like, the one salesperson tells me that they need Hebrew, that’s going to be a hard, you know, it’s going to be hard for me to sell that. But if I’m gathering that information in a matrix, and just like seeing like, over the past six months, I’ve had, I don’t know, 15 different sales people, for these specific companies say that they would be more interested in the platform if they have Hebrew, then I can start making that sort of, again, gut feeling. It’s less of a gut feeling. It’s more like, it looks like even though we’re not maybe going specifically to Israel, and selling specifically in that market, we’re working with companies that need this language, or looking into companies that need this language. So these are the types of things like where do you get additional information where even just the prospect of it is interesting, because we want to work with those clients. We don’t, I don’t need to have a clear formula for it. So that’s one. Sorry, I kind of got lost, lost track of the question, initially.

Andrej Zito 

The KPIs which, we, should be working for you.

Camila Pedraza 

So if that’s the case of a B2B company, specifically. In the case of a B2C company, it’s much more difficult again, because you don’t have clients, you’re kind of like out there swimming, trying to get more users to come to you, which is, you know, the case of Skillshare. We do have, you know, a program that’s specific for companies, but that’s not our main target, right? We’re working with individual users, on a case by case basis. So a lot of that, unfortunately, boils down to what we are currently analyzing, right? And what we want to get out of it. So a company like Skillshare, decides to go more global instead of focusing on their English speaking user base, because they’ve been looking at their numbers. So they’ve been looking at their numbers, and they realize we have so many logins from so many other countries. What can we do with this? So a lot of that is, you know, market research understanding that the markets and users outside of an American, let’s say, user base might be interesting. But there’s also like, can they pay for the service? How much are we going to have to invest, you know, the cost per click, all of these things, you know, cost of acquisition. All of these things kind of come in. And, and so they will shape your ROI.

In that sense, you can’t really just come up with a KPI and say, you know, we have to look at whether users are satisfied with translation. Because for example, by the way, in a B2B company, once I’ve set up the language, the person who actually paid for the platform that I sold them on, etc, is not the person using the product. It’s probably it’s the CEO or the CTO or you know, someone in finance, whatever, and the people using the platform are just the regular employees. So even if the quality is not very good, which I don’t advocate for, but the client, the actual representative of the client is happy. And so you’ve checked that box, right? Whereas with the standard users, it’s, they’re probably going to request that the quality be higher, because individually, they’re using the platform, they’re paying for it, it’s their money. So what they have to say about the platform counts for a lot. So for me in a company like Skillshare, a lot of it is looking at how customers, how are those users are engaging with the platform? What are the areas where they’re getting the most value? Is it the class descriptions? Is it the subtitles? Is it the titles of the class, right? So part of it is me understanding that, we definitely need to make sure that people can access classes and that they’re interested in the classes, right? So class titles, for me, just out of everything I’ve learned is like a product title. If it looks funky, you’re gonna end up on a meme on the internet somewhere about bad localization, right? But also, nobody’s gonna be interested in that class, nobody’s gonna click, nobody’s gonna engage. So titles are super important. But once you’re in the class, right, what’s going to be the most, so this is something that we’re looking into, like, what are people really super interested in the description of the project? Or they’re more interested in the, in the lesson titles, because it kind of like a syllabus, and gives you a sense of where the class is going.

So it’s not going to be the same for Skillshare, as it is for Netflix, for example, like how many people read the description of, of a Netflix film, when they have a trailer, you’d much rather watch the trailer, right? The description of it is not going to win. And the more confusing it is, the more you’re going to want to watch the trailer because the description’s confusing so we’re actually going to probably make you want to engage more. So yeah, it’s gonna be so different. But for me, it’s just that get out of your localization bubble, and just look at what the company’s doing. What, what, what is marketing targeting? Why are they putting ads on Instagram, instead of Facebook? You know, like, oh, you’re going for the younger audiences. Will the younger audiences tend to speak English more, so maybe we can get away with a little bit of English, you know. It’s just like, you need to just get out of that little bubble that often people have put you in. It’s not yourself, it’s not that you want to stay there. It’s just you’ve been asked to, to stay there at the end of the process, and you just kind of have to claw your way out to really understand that and help contribute to those KPIs.

Andrej Zito 

How do you utilize end users? You previously mentioned that one of the indication would be the number of support tickets, that they’re logged, and you somehow get this information? Is there some other way that you get the insight from the actual end users, which I think, especially in your case of Skillshare, it’s, it’s the people that matter?

Camila Pedraza 

Yeah, definitely, um, I guess it depends on every company again. So in the case of Skillshare, this is something that I’m still discovering, like how support is gathering that information. We haven’t actually other than subtitles, we haven’t localized yet. So I don’t have any actionable material that I can analyze, you know, how they’re engaging with them. So far, we’re just looking at what you know, people are engaging with, in general, across the world, you know. What types of classes, what kinds of subjects are more interesting in one region versus another right? We just, data, like raw data all around the type of things that everybody’s already looking at. I’m just kind of analyzing them from a more of a localization sample. But as I move forward, and we start localizing and actually putting that out there, again, we’re just gonna have to, I’m gonna have to look at a lot into social media. How are people reporting? I think it’s very like sentiment, what, how are people talking about Skillshare in other languages? Reviews about you know, whether it’s worth to buy a Skillshare class. Are they mentioning the quality of the subtitles, so you have to go more into the nitty gritty. Again, qualitative instead of quantitative, because it’s going to give you much more information about about your actual end user.

In general, I just think there are things that, again, you have values that you stand for, as a localization manager, so you’re going to want to stand up for quality as often as you can. But because it’s not possible to invest the same way everywhere, again, it’s just like, think about your users and do them like a service. Benefit them the best way that you can with the amount of money that you have, the services that you can have access to. And in my case, it’s a lot about that just like as a user, just, again, a lot of user research. I haven’t gotten into the side of the business here yet, but I have, I’ve done it in the past. So as I know that my UX UI designers are testing designs out, I’m using this as an opportunity to test copy out, right? Just like what’s working in English. And then if I translate that this way, or this way, what, what what do you feel more comfortable with, you know, what is clear, what is… Sometimes you don’t have to go to like a large audience and large metrics, it just takes talking to like 5 or 10 people in a language to realize that one translation is way better than the other. And we should probably head in that direction more often, right? You don’t really need that big data all the time. So again, this has been a lot of just like working with different teams and figuring out what they are already doing.

Again, the salespeople, just like, they’re, they’re constantly getting these requests. Nobody had thought of putting them in just one single sheet like Google Sheets, where we just have the names of all the languages that these people are asking. The name of the company, language that they want, how many users that they project having in that language, which so that we understand the size of the additional business that we’re getting. Nobody thought of this before so and you’re just building data on your own like nobody, nobody had thought of putting this together. So nobody has an analysis for it. And nobody knows how to exploit that information. So when I talk about end users, yeah, I might have to do a lot of just like, go out there look at what’s being, you know, like, looking at what the press is saying, looking at what influencers are saying, looking at what you know, you have to get creative with, depending on your business and your company. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

So to wrap up this part about localization management, what would be your let’s say, one advice to new localization managers?

Camila Pedraza 

My one advice to new localization managers, that’s a hard one. If it’s not the thing about like, really going out and learning about code, which maybe new people coming into the localization management role, maybe they have more of that. Again, they’re younger, they live in a world where coding is just indispensable, and a lot of people are just naturally interested in it, do you think it’s gonna bring you…just make your life easier. I would say, another thing we already talked about here, which is like getting out of your shell, and going out there and not waiting for anyone to sort of introduce you to someone else. And bringing that meeting about, just like ask to be involved, even passively. A lot of people are kind of like, why would you want to participate in this conversation? And a lot of it is just like, I want to listen, and I just want to learn more about the business. I don’t think, unless you want to participate in like very private, you know, management meetings, most people are not going to be they’re actually going to be pleasantly surprised that you want to learn more, you want to learn more about how the business is working, what’s going on. So just like, put yourself out there be more, you know, cross functional, cross departmental, just bring those relationships about. Build your own in house network, because we’re I think we’re better at building like networks, among other translators, and things like that, but not internally. So yeah, start from day one, building your network within your company.

Andrej Zito 

I have this maybe a tricky question, and wondering how you’re going to deal with it. So the advice that you gave to the new people, is especially important for you, since we’ve agreed that your superpower is connecting the dots. So, so for you and for me, it’s very good to understand a little bit about something because then we can kind of like, understand it as one whole thing. Do you think that people can actually learn to connect the dots? Or is it more like a talent?

Camila Pedraza 

Mm hmm. I would say that there might be people that are naturally better at it. And I do feel that that’s something that I’ve developed over the years, you know, you refine it kind of. But I think that a lot of it, I think anyone can connect dots in a way or another. Some people would just connect them better or be more abstract in the way that they can connect those dots and like find really just connections that nobody else sees, yes. But a lot of the reasons why other people are missing these connections is not because they’re not good at it. It’s because they’re not curious, like, literally, they’re just not getting out of that bubble. They’re not getting out of that shell.

I’m just interested naturally in so many different things. I want to learn, I know that it’s going to benefit me, I want that expertise. I want to be known for that expertise. It’s completely self serving as well. Okay. I like to have that knowledge. And I want people to know that I have that knowledge. It’s, I enjoy it. But yeah, I do realize that there’s just such a lack of curiosity. And it’s not just for localization managers, just within a company. Silos just start creeping up on you. And suddenly, people just the only thing they know about is what their team is doing. And so a lot of the times when I’m connecting the dots, it’s not so much that I’m coming up with a solution. It’s just that I’m saying, “You know what, Mr. A, you should talk to Mrs. B because I think that you’re doing the same thing, you just haven’t realized because you haven’t talked to each other in I don’t know how long because you’re completely different sides of the business.” So just that capacity not to necessarily be the one who connects the dots but connect the people who can connect the dots, just like act as a mediator in a way so I think it’s, it boils down more to like curiosity and initiative. Rather than to just that, maybe skill that maybe people like you and I, we’ve honed for years, or we really enjoy about ourselves. We know we’re good at it. And, and we focus on that. I think we have to start to be more curious and and explore more, just make ourselves uncomfortable and put ourselves in difficult situations in that sense. Just, I don’t know about this. I want to learn more. Tell me.

Andrej Zito 

Well, I will tell you. No, actually, I’m going to ask you maybe even the more hypothetical question. Why do you think that people these days are not that curious? Do you think it’s maybe related to people? Like one of my theory could be that they’re, let’s say, really focusing on what they know to do. And maybe they just want to deepen? Because I think for us, it’s more like, we want to be the generalist, like, we want to know a little bit about something, but maybe for some people, let’s say, philosophies. I just want to get better at this. And I don’t care about the rest. Because I think one of the things how you get better and how you innovate is when you focus on something, right? Maybe for some people like learning about localization, it’s like a lot of noise. Like if I’m a developer, maybe I just want to be the best coder in the world. And I don’t care about internationalization or something like that. So that’s one thing. Second thing is maybe people are just comfortable, you know, doing their own thing. They like routine, they don’t want to get outside of their comfort zone. I don’t know, what, what, what are your thoughts?

Camila Pedraza 

Well, I think that it’s funny that you say like nowadays, because I don’t think that, per se that has changed a lot. I feel like people in general are comfortable doing what they know how to do. Like, I think that actually today people are way more curious. I think I think that if you look historically, like once you settled in a career, you just did that for the rest of your life, probably had the same job your entire life. So I actually do find that people are exploring more, I just find that it’s so easy to get comfortable, once you’re in a place that you like, or you’re happy with. You’ve explored and then you’re good, and then you just want to stick to that, right? I think it also has to do with this notion of constant performance and being efficient at all times. So there’s a lot of like, being connected and being productive and just, you know. And exploring, sometimes it’s not linked to this idea of being productive, like, am I actually making the best use of my time? But what is the best use of your time? Like, I need to be producing I need to be hitting those KPIs, I need to be you know, like, hitting those goals. Like just taking time to not do anything kind of in a way just explore just think, just analyze, just reflect you know, just like talk to other people. I realized that just by having coffee with someone talking about your life, you can come you know, across, you know, someone from a side of the business you would never have been interested in, and then you end up talking about their jobs, and then you connect the dots, again, just comes out of nowhere.

So I think that it’s linked specifically what we’re seeing today is more linked to that. And so that builds those silos because you’re like, “No, I have to focus on this, you have to be the best you can be and just this one thing.” Right? Once, once you found it, once you’re, you feel that it’s your calling, I’m a developer, this is what I do. So I guess this is why you ended up having to speak their language because they’re not gonna want to get out of their shell, you have to sell them on like, performance. And then little by little, you can bring them on board. And a lot of them get really interested into like the intricacies of this. Maybe just from the developer standpoint, but a lot of them are like the translators, like now I realized I have to contextualize my strings. Because obviously, you know, like, but they’re not all gonna want to do that, unfortunately.

So I think it’s a mix of that, like, yeah, natural silos that companies are creating, because they’re just so much like, how can the teams be super efficient? And I’ve had companies where they’ve been like, “Oh, please don’t talk to the developers because you’re, like, distracting them. They need time to do like deep work.” I love the notion of deep work, which is just like work. Yeah. Uninterrupted, deep work. Yeah. But it’s like, Yeah, but he also needs to come out of his shell. And he needs to be able to also not necessarily reply to my message straight away, and he’s not a child, or she’s not a child, you know, they can definitely find the time to come talk to me once I’ve asked the question on Slack, right? And then get it being interested in the business outside of their, how many lines of code they’re adding, or removing or, you know, it’s actually good for you. It’s actually good for them. Think beyond like, is the release stable now? Like, what is your you? Who are your users? Why are you doing this? Why are you putting that product out into the world? And if you don’t come out of your shell, you’re just looking at lines of coding and you’re just looking at the matrix, but you’re not bringing additional value. So I feel that unfortunately, yeah, that whole notion of performance and having to be doing something productive and like you know, like time tracking on a sheet like today, I you know, worked five hours in the specific ticket that I needed solved and there’s no space for other things, really just builds natural silos that you that lead to lack of curiosity, and therefore a lack of connecting the dots.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, speaking of time tracking, we’ve been recording this interview for one hour, 38 minutes and 22 seconds. I track every minute of my life and how it’s been. But when you’re talking about this, this thing like experiment and exploring the world, it reminded me of Google. I think that Google has, maybe it’s part of their culture that people have, I think it’s 10 or 20% of their time, that they should spend on doing something new, like trying out something new. Like they have 80%, like doing the core thing, which they’re hired for, and 10%, like, try to create something new, of course find something,

Camila Pedraza 

I think that’s really great. I think that it’s hard for people to get out of that mentality. Sometimes companies have policies where they’re, like, go out and talk to people. But in reality, once you’re being evaluated for, for performance, you know, like, there’s so much pressure to be productive, that you can’t get out of it. So in case of Skillshare, for example, when when, when I came in, my boss set up coffee times for me with different people, and she said, like, “Listen, you’re going to get to work with these people, it’s going to be about business. But if you can try and keep it a little bit more personal to start with, just build a personal relationship, before you get into the business.” I really appreciated that. Just give me time to, you know, discover where we’re at, who I’m working with, why are they good at this? Why are they involved? Because the next time I talk to them, I’m gonna be like, “Listen, I know, you mentioned that you were very interested in data.

So I have this data about localization that maybe we should explore, right?” If I don’t have time to do that I can’t discover home working with outside of the fact that they are the lead engineer, or they are the right. So I think that those initiatives are really great. And I think that, but they have to put like, they have to be backed up by the entire culture of the company. It can’t just be like a policy where I’m like, because I have a lot of people say this, as soon as you leave the company, you have to disconnect, right? But then I see my boss sending emails at 11 at night. And so when you come in, and you reply to those emails, 10 in the morning, the next day, you feel like you’re sending them 12 hours late, like you’re sending him out at an appropriate time. So yeah, it has to be more of a general culture, and not just the policy sitting there somewhere. But I do think encouraging learning and learning things outside, especially outside of your line of work, not just we’re giving you money to go out into conference about things that you already know how to do. Those are, for example, they, they, they encourage a lot of learning, just creative learning, and it hasn’t, they give you money to learn things outside of your line of work. Doesn’t have to be localization, you want to learn about plants, go ahead.

Obviously, this is very aligned with our company culture, and what we do, what the product we’re putting out into the world. But I definitely feel that I learn so much from just going outside of my line of work like things. I’ve seen other things, and then I’m like, how can I apply this to what I do? So just for the fun of it, you you really get so much out of that. So I mean, this is a, this is a this is not advice for localization manager. This is advice for companies to get implemented. Yeah. But as a localization manager, definitely. A lot of people ask me, like, “Oh, I didn’t see you in that localization, you know, conference or whatever.” A lot of you know, people go to so many localization conferences, and I sometimes just want to go to conferences about, like HR or gaming, where there’s something different that I can, you know, get me out of what I do every single day. So yeah, do it for you.

Andrej Zito 

So let’s, let’s build our personal relationship. And let’s stop talking about localization. So we were talking about curiosity. So this is the final set of my questions, which are more about you personally. So since you are so curious, what is it that you’re curious about right now? Please don’t tell me COVID or something.

Camila Pedraza 

Oh, no, no, no, not at all. Although I am a very, I’m very interested in chemistry and biology. And I was… An example of this, so when I was back in college, and I was doing literature as my major. I had one of my best friends was doing microbiology. And I actually went with him to a lot of his courses on like, DNA and virology. And I actually took notes and people were looking at me like you are crazy. You’re not even in this class. But I just found it so interesting. I like learning about so many different things. So again, one of the reasons why I turned to translation, which is like you end up basically translating on every single subject. It’s you just get to sort of quench that thirst. Things that I’m curious about right now, so I’m working on learning Japanese. And for me, Japanese is a lot about Japanese culture. Every language is also about the culture, but I’m the type of person that you know, I asked how do you say something to my teacher, and they are going to give me an expert like just an idiom or an expression. And I’m going to write it down. But then I’m going to be like, but wait this verb, and then I’m going to go like down a rabbit hole. So I get very curious about where this comes from them. And they’re gonna say like, Oh, this comes from, like this Shinto tradition. And so I’m like, going to go into shintoism. And you know, like, just start clicking on every single Wikipedia link that comes out of that article. And, again, rabbit hole, rabbit rabbit hole, until you know, you can no longer fit any more tabs into your browser. So this is something that I’m very curious about, and I, I don’t study any of the systematically. It’s not like, I have a notebook, and I’m gonna, like, I’m gonna study Shinto today, and I’m gonna, no, it’s just, the moment that that curiosity hits me, like sometimes even in the middle of of class, teachers gonna be talking. I’m gonna be like, Yeah, but you keep going, because I want to learn about this, I want to like go through this, I have a very particular way of learning.

So this is why I like, small classes, when I can ask all the questions and get into the details that I want to know. And, you know, when you’re explaining something to me, I, you might have a plan, you might have your deck and your presentation, I want to be able to ask questions whenever because I’m connecting my own dots again, in my head. And this is like, Oh, this is important to me. And it often always leads back in some other things that I already knew. So it kind of comes full circle, which is like the most satisfying feeling like, Oh, now I understand this other thing as well. Like now I, it just opens up so much of a different culture to you. And especially a culture like Japanese, which is like, so different. So yeah, these are things that I’m interested in. But it’s very hard for me to say like right now, my boyfriend will tell you a story about one time we went on vacation to the house that they have in the south of France, and one of his parents’ friends had started working with bees, because he wanted to produce honey. And I had never before been interested in bees specifically, other than the fact that I know that they’re dying. And that’s not good for the environment, and all those things that I hadn’t really gotten into, you know, the, and I was like, what’s beekeeping? Like and why, how do you keep bees? And how do you how is it possible that they don’t get and then I spent literally 72 hours only reading about bees, I was, it was my time off. And so every time people were cooking and doing things and watching this, and I was like, look at this thing I read about the bees, and I just kept bringing people back into the subject. And they were like, it’s been 72 hours, and I have not left the world of bees. And then what happened with that information? I just moved on, I just found another subject to be interested in and spend another 72 hours and then write just random things that I want to kind of like completely explore every single corner until I feel like I’m like a small expert in the subject, even though I have no practical experience. But still, I feel like and then I can move on like satisfied. Like I’ve quench that thirst I can move on I grew it. So it’s very hard for me to see like right now, because maybe we you know, we stopped this call. And then I say like, Oh, I remember that. That line that you know, was behind behind Andrej, you know, like, fuck average, you know, like, and then I’m gonna be like, Who said that? And then I’m gonna go look for that. And then I’m gonna turns out that it’s like, oh, this actor or the mother of this actor, and then I’m going to spend hours reading about the life of the mother of the activities. I found it interesting. So, yeah, keep you posted on the next thing that takes up 72 hours of my time nonstop.

Andrej Zito 

You also do, let’s say systematic learning? Or is most of your learning spontaneous because of your curiosity?

Camila Pedraza 

Do you apply systematic learning to larger subjects like Japanese? Definitely. I mean, I do have a method. And I have like, you know, teachers and I have an application, specifically an app on my phone specifically for like learning kanji. And it’s very systematic, you know, like kanji’s made up of like radicals or like different parts. That can be like sort of replicated throughout different kanji. And you know, so I have a very systematic approach to that, yes. But like, for example, learning things at work. And even just like the way I organize my day, and planning, it’s a lot of just like, very natural, very flowy, very, like, Oh, I wake up in the morning, and I read this email, and this email, you know, reminds me about this other thing I have to do. And so I end up doing everything I need to do, I just don’t do it in a necessarily very systematic way. There are periods where I realized that I need to be way more systematic. And so I will literally book time in my calendar for each thing that I have to do so that I make sure that I tackle it. But if I’m not in one of those periods, I prefer to sort of let it happen naturally, kind of like in a Montessori learning type of way, just what I feel more like doing right now. And then I’ll do the rest later. And I’ll flow into it naturally at some point. I know I need to get it done.

But yeah, I’m not super organized in that sense. I’m more of a spontaneous instinctive person. And I like it. Again, this is why I like smaller classes because there’s a general structure and framework. But it’s okay for me to get into a subject and write. And I look, like classes where I can be more free, like specially in language learning classes. It’s not more like we need to talk about family because you’re going to learn the vocabulary for family. So please write something about family. I like it more when It’s like, we’re learning about, I don’t know subjunctive in French, so write something, whatever. And so people will come in talking about their weekends and very basic things. And I’m going to be starting like, well, according to the UN, you know, like things like in another language that nobody ever wants to talk about. So I like being able to shape learning to what I feel like doing what I believe, is more interesting to me at that time. But I like framework as well. Like I like some sort of objectives and, you know, worksheets and workbooks and things where I know that I’m seeing progress, I can sort of kind of quantify it in a way.

Andrej Zito 

Do you think that your preference to be more spontaneous, leads to mindfulness? Because to me, it feels like like you really, let’s say, live for the moment, and you are driven by the moment or then like, “Okay, I need to do this in one week from now on.” And the reason why I’m asking is because, yes, I have checked your profile before we had our intro call. And I was just going to say that, yes, I know that planning and organizing is not your strong suit. It is a strong suit for me, I would say. But the problem that I have with this may be that I’m focusing too much on the goals, rather than enjoying the moment. So that’s what I’m thinking if, like, you also did some research on the mindfulness. And maybe if that is actually even, even better to be, let’s say, more spontaneous and being in the moment, rather than being driven by let’s say, weekly, or monthly goals.

Camila Pedraza 

I understand what you mean. Actually, I don’t think it has, for me, at least, it hasn’t had to do so much with mindfulness. And I do have to say that there I’ve had to learn to be more organized and plan more, you know, like, because not, not everything can go at my own rhythm, um, definitely things I’ve learned. And I’ve struggled with, I can’t say that this is just positive, you kind of have to, to learn to, to be guided by goals and metrics, and, you know, structure and framework. But I do say I’m the type of person that enjoys things a lot. And I think I’ve realized this a lot in France, because of the way that people are here and the way that they express their joy or their you know. I’m just like, so full of mirth sometimes, and just happiness and joy.

So, but I also have, kind of, like extremes, I can be like, the angriest person in the room, but I can also be the happiest person in the room. So it’s not necessarily just positive again, right? You also have to learn to control your emotions, I’ve been working on controlling the negative emotions, and letting the positive emotions around a little bit more free, right? So but yeah, so far, not so much with the mindfulness. And actually, it’s something that I’d like to explore because it also leads to a lot. I get lots of ups and downs, it’s it’s not a very stable, emotional approach to life, you know, you’re just like going with the flow. But the flow sometimes is like hectic and crazy. And sometimes it’s like a downer and you don’t feel like working and, and you don’t have that level of structure that keeps you focused. So I think it would be interesting to sort of bring mindfulness and, you know, meditation and all of these other things into into my life. Definitely, but haven’t explored that a lot.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe I wasn’t clear, but I actually actually thought when you were talking about being spontaneous, that it actually naturally brings out the mindfulness because…

Camila Pedraza 

But no, but it hasn’t actually, this is what I’m saying. So I think it would be interesting for me to explore that more because it, I haven’t felt that it’s connected to like a sense of mindfulness. And like, I think there’s other things in my life where I felt. So, more like maybe my penchant for aesthetics. For example, I studied literature, and one of the things I love the most is poetry. And so poetry, I think, is one of those things and writing poetry that really is connected to mindfulness and like just like being in the moment, and it’s the type of poetry that I enjoy, and that I tend to write. Not all poetry is like that, of course. But again, it’s, I think it’s more related to other things than that spontaneity of how I do things, and the way that I approach life. Again, it’s fun, but a lot of the times it’s more trouble than it’s worth. And I think mindfulness is sometimes such a like a positive concept. You being in the moment, you like connecting to the moment, I’m just happy I’m doing it. I’m not sure I’m bringing that mindfulness along with me that that hasn’t led to that naturally. No.

Andrej Zito 

Right, maybe you’re just overthinking it. Yeah, that’s what I was even thinking like, if you’re if you’re spontaneous, maybe you just live in the moment and that’s, that’s all you need. Yes, yes. Okay. Is this mindfulness? Your another thing, what you mentioned about, you know, trying to let say, be in control of the negative emotions, like trying to maybe not go with them too far while still letting your positive emotions you know, totally explode. I would be interested in, in your results because, because I have this theory, it’s not based on anything, it’s just what I think. It’s that previously, I was known as person who gets passionate, also about work because I care. And because of that I used to sometimes get angry about, like how other people do things. So I thought that actually being angry or getting passionate about something, which is, let’s say on the negative side, also means that I can also more express the positive things. So that’s why I’m thinking like, if you, is it even possible to, let’s say, just suppress the negative while keeping the positive? Or does it?

Camila Pedraza 

Always to be connected. Yeah, this is something that’s very, it’s something that I struggle with as well, because I’ve always felt like, you know, like, yeah, I can have, you know, that very negative, you know, complicated, rash type of thing. But then on the other side, I’m like, and super positive, and smiley, and you know, like, full of joy. And I think it’s hard, but I do feel it can be done. I mean, I say that, because I do feel like I’ve gotten better in general, not necessarily that I’m the most patient person, but I am, like you like, you’re so passionate that when things are going great, you’re like, super involved, and like, you know, engaged and committed and the whole thing, but then when things are going wrong, you kind of hate everyone. Very hard to deal with how passionately you feel about these negative things as well. So, you know, letting go, I think you can do that, definitely, it’s just, I do feel it’s hard. But I haven’t felt that it’s impacted the positive side of things.

I felt that in the times of my life where I’ve felt dispassionate about something, it’s affected both things, but it’s not coming from just wanting to, to control the negative emotions, it’s coming from something else where I’m not feeling the joy, but I’m also just like, not caring anymore about the bad things either. And so that’s a completely different thing that does happen, but not from an effort, at least on my end, to control those negative emotions and be sometimes more objective. And sometimes, just like, also, realizing that you just put so much of a burden on yourself, nobody else cares, only you. And so you’re, you’re living with that venom kind of inside of you. So it’s really helped to side in a way just let go and just accept that you are doing whatever you can, and then just continue to find joy in the things that you find a lot of joy and then continue to sort of transmit sort of evoke that joy and, and convey it to others. And I think there’s places where I’ve been able to do that better. I definitely can say that, maybe I shouldn’t have let my environment dictate that so much, and people around me dictate that so much, but I do feel that there are companies where I can do that more, or I can be more, like, find that joy in what I’m doing. And that’s going to be celebrated along with me and people are going to be happy about the things that I’m accomplishing, right and, and demonstrate that whereas there are others where it’s going to happen less. And so it’s going to be harder for me to express the joy and so much easier for me to express the negative feelings. Again, just like it can help where I am and who I’m working with and who’s accompanying me on that journey.

Andrej Zito 

What is something that people seem to misunderstand about you?

Camila Pedraza 

People seem to misunderstand. So I think that a lot of that has to do with maybe the passion. So in my social life, I, it’s very easy for me to talk to people. And maybe it’s very obvious in this conversation. I don’t, I’m not a super shy person, I don’t have trouble, you know, expressing how I feel, or you know, being forthcoming or transparent. So people think, they just pegged me as an extrovert. But the truth is that although I enjoy and it’s very easy for me to talk to people. I’m not necessarily an extrovert, and I do enjoy a lot of my alone time and individuality. Just like not being around other people. And I do you know, people tend to say that you’re an extrovert, when you get energized by being around other people. And it’s like, I have fun with it. But by the end of it, I am beat. I need to go back home and, and I actually energize by being on my own, not necessarily being with other people. So it’s like, I’m a weird, introvert extrovert kind of thing.

So that’s one thing, like socially, people tend to, they imagine that I have 1000s of friends. And it’s like, no, not at all. I have a super hard time making friends like establishing deeper connections. But I don’t want to, it’s just easy for me to talk to people straight out of the bat, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to become best friends. So yeah, that’s one thing. And then I guess, because I’m very passionate, and I’m loud, and I’m an extrovert and I have an opinion on everything. Just it can, sometimes people might feel that it’s way too much like they feel that I’m trying to take control of everything or whatever. And I am the type of person who loves to take the lead and I’m very assertive, but I’m also very democratic. Like, for example, when I’m leading teams I love like really just building people up and getting their opinions and making sure that everyone’s participating and right and it’s not necessarily super obvious from the fact that I’m very present with my opinion and myself, right. So something that people might tend to get wrong, but definitely something I do enjoy. And I’m more of a teacher, a type of manager. And people don’t necessarily know that because in my day to day, I’m more teaching others. Again, I’m more being the ambassador on bringing people on board and blah, blah, blah, right? But but it doesn’t feel necessarily like, they feel that I’m always pulling my way. And it’s not necessarily true. Like, I also love learning through other people and just having I guess, I’m a kinder and more caring manager than my explosive and super rash personality might lead you to believe is what I’m saying. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

What was the what was the last thing that really upset you? Whether it’s work or non work?

Camila Pedraza 

The last thing that really upset me? That’s a hard one. I mean, I guess.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe if you can’t remember, it’s a good thing?

Camila Pedraza 

Oh, no, it means that there’s probably a lot of things to like, yeah. So for example, recently, I had a conversation about what commitment means not in a personal relationship as a company. So about, like, we already invested some money in something, for example. And so for me, we, there’s, it’s, it wasn’t maybe the best investment, right. And so I think that we should move away from that and do something different, that’s probably going to cost us less. Because for me, because we haven’t started working with that, we can still move away, we can still get away from that. And we can still pick a better solution.

But some people feel that we’ve already committed because we already invested the money. And so that’s been very hard for me, because there’s like, you know, like dealing with the concept of commitment. And maybe we could do like, make a better choice, make a better decision head in a different direction. And I’m trying to come to terms with it, and also understand the other person’s point of view. But it’s been very hard. It’s made me very angry, because it’s like, I don’t want to do better, we can do better, let’s just, you know, like, forget about what we already did. It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past, you know, let’s move forward, and other people are like we already committed. Right? So that that’s been one of the hard things like at work recently, that’s made me angry, if that’s something that, you know, differences of opinion, when I can’t understand where the other person is coming from, and like, where is it really like, Where’s the benefit and continuing to do something are very hard for me. So something I need to sort of work through. And yeah.

Andrej Zito 

I think I think maybe that’s where you should apply the curiosity, right? To be curious what that person like, why they think, why do you think it’s better to do it that way?

Camila Pedraza 

Yeah, I think you’re definitely right. I think that I’ve been applying more like, I applied my curiosity more to understanding why we should move away like, the point of view of like the translators a point of view of the, right. Just like sort of a lot of being curious in order to like build a case and understand why maybe I’m wrong. Also just understanding whether I’m taking things the wrong way, but, but just the reasoning of a certain part of the team is not clear to me, I do have to be more curious about it. But again, it’s also just more learning to come to terms with differences and things like that, which I’m not necessarily always the best at, right, I can be very stubborn. And once I’ve, once I’ve been, because I do the research.

I don’t just come up with an idea and say we have to do this, it’s I’ve connected, and I’ve connected the dots. I’ve done the research, I’ve analyzed the data, I’ve come up with a, you know, fully fledged idea that I’m argumenting, you know, in depth, and you know, I’m coming up with great arguments. And then so I don’t understand some, some somebody else’s point of view, because it doesn’t feel like it’s ticking all the same boxes. Right, right. Things that I have to come to terms with and that one has been I don’t, I haven’t had a lot of situations like that, I have to say since I joined Skillshare. But it’s something I’m still learning, so learning how other people in the company think. You know, it’s, I’m very new. So yeah, that’s, that’s definitely a part of the process. But yeah, I don’t know, I guess I’m thinking but I am the type of person who can just sort of like, like, something can just send me out. Like a little match. You just like strike it in. Yeah. Like I can’t believe it. This is terrible. This is horrible. How can it be possible that you know, like, so this is why the fact that I don’t remember is probably because I go through so many of these phases throughout the day. It’s hard to pinpoint one.

Andrej Zito 

Would there be any question that I could ask that it would set you off? Just by the question, is there something like that? Not that I want to, but I’m just curious.

Camila Pedraza 

Yes. I mean, there’s something that always sets me off you. You haven’t asked the question. Not necessarily asking a question. I think asking questions is fine. I think it’s the tone of the question or when it’s not a question, and more of a comment or a joke. So this has to do with where I come from. And I’ve noticed that in France for some reason people think it’s super okay to make jokes about Pablo Escobar. I don’t know you’re familiar with, but

Andrej Zito 

Of course that’s…

Camila Pedraza 

Exactly. So most, so one of the things that I know about being Colombian is that as soon as I say I’m Colombian, this is what’s going to come to mind. And I’m fine with that. Because I understand that, that’s what has been, you know, kind of marketed outside of the country, what you find with articles, but also just in the news, right? And so I, I don’t mind that people immediately think like cocaine, Pablo Escobar, the guerrilla, not like, that’s fine, I would prefer it if they felt like Chiquita, or whatever. A lot of people don’t even know that you’re a Colombian. Frustrating, but anyways, what I find frustrating is that they’re gonna come in and make a joke about some time, like me being related to Pablo Escobar or me having coke, or me doing coke, or it’s like, I don’t even know you, right? Pablo Escobar, you know, like, killed and tortured 1000s of people and made it very like, is actually a dark stain on our history. Like, I don’t want to be associated with that. Even if in your mind, it’s the only thing you can think about when it comes to Colombia. I would prefer if you say like, Listen, the only thing I know about Colombia, I learned from Narcos. Can you teach me more, so that’s fine. Like, can you tell me more about Pablo Escobar? I don’t mind that question. Like I don’t, tell me more about the drug situation in Colombia, that’s fine. But if you started making jokes, like ignorant jokes that can really set me off. And at the beginning, I didn’t have enough French to like, know how to react. And I was very offended. But now I’m like, just it that it sets me off. But it’s so ignorant, you know, it’s just kind of like going to schooling mode.

Andrej Zito 

So how do you react right now in French? I mean, please translate for us?

Camila Pedraza 

Oh, no, I mean, it’s, it’s more, it depends on who I’m talking to. So often, this happens to me a lot in Ubers, for some reason. So when I get into an Uber, I’ll talk, I’ll speak French. And after a while, the person will say you have an accent. And I’m not sure where it’s from, right. They’re not even sure if like, I’m from a region in France, like, you know, maybe maybe I’m French, but spend some time abroad. And so I’ll explain that I’m from Colombia. And it happens a lot with Uber drivers, for some reason, that they’re gonna be like, oh, Pablo Escobar’s the best, you know, like, they’re really gonna see in him, like a role model. And so I kind of, I’m kinder, because I understand there’s a lot of ignorance around it. And so I explained, like, Listen, so this is what really happened. And there are people who admire him, there’s people who admire Hitler, but it doesn’t mean that it’s okay.

And that this is the type of comment you should have, you know, and, you know, I’m kinder, but then with people who I feel like should be more educated on the subject, and it’s just like, they’re trying to be funny, because they’re trying to like, this person didn’t make a joke. They actually identified and they felt that it was something to be proud of, it’s different from the person who starts making jokes about something that they know is not something you’re proud of. So I get more angry, and it’s like, why would you make a joke about a cliche of my country? Like, that’s so ignorant, like this type of thing that I’m seeing right now. But you know, like, do you think you’re the first person in France to have ever made that joke? Because a lot of feels like, you know, they’re like, haha, like, and they make the exact same joke I’ve heard, I don’t know how many times over the past seven years, and it’s like, really? Seven years, like, you really think you’re the first person to come up with that joke? I can, I can, it can turn, you know, pretty quickly for the person in front of me. And it’s not fun. I do have to say, Yeah, I guess it just depends what context I’m in.

Andrej Zito 

And maybe you should create a course on Skillshare, about the history of Colombia. Especially for French people, localize it into French, just from the… No, hyper targeting, Uber, targeting drivers

Camila Pedraza 

No, but again, the Uber French drivers, at least are like they think that it’s a good thing. And so I have to explain that it’s not. It’s the people who know it’s a negative thing and they’re still making jokes about it. And it’s like, Yeah, I don’t think, you know, this is what you lead with, when you’re meeting someone. Like jokes about the one negative thing about their country that you know, they’re going to be super sensitive and uncomfortable about. Why would you do that? So yeah, it’s been a very French thing. Unfortunately. It really sets me off. Trying to work on them, coming up with different strategies. Like, there’s people who could react kind of life when they talk about cocaine, a lot of Colombians are like, oh, I’ve never done cocaine. You seem to know a lot about cocaine, you know, to sort of turn that thing around. Yeah, there’s, there’s so many different strategies, but I do have to say that with years, it’s just kind of accumulated. It’s been right. I’m actually less patient now.

Andrej Zito 

Oh, really? Well, I would say it would be the other way.

Camila Pedraza 

Yeah, normally it should be but no, it’s just gotten worse.

Andrej Zito 

My notorious question, what do you think is wrong with our industry?

Camila Pedraza 

What do I think is wrong with our industry? Well, that’s a hard one. Because I feel that there’s so many things going like, wrong with the way people localize, but not necessarily the industry per se. So one of the things that I have noticed that I’m so sad about is what I told you about vendors and agencies sort of being so tired of, you know, advocating that they don’t do it anymore. Like it’s still your responsibility. It’s tiring for me to as an ambassador, sometimes within a company, I like insisting on the same things. But if I don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it. So I do feel that the fact that we have, we’re no longer focusing on that, or large companies are not necessarily focusing on that, just selling quality as a way to like, get people to pay more, but not necessarily as in how can we help you achieve more quality? How can you know, you have better processes internally? That I feel is very saddening, I also feel bad. But I don’t think that’s something that’s wrong with the industry, I feel like actually, the industry is growing and it’s getting better. We’re networking, there’s so many events, you know. There’s women in localization, people are getting empowered, they’re they’re putting themselves out there. I feel a lot of people working in translation are very shy people and obviously are not on social media. So things like you’re, like what you are doing are amazing. So I actually feel there’s more positives than negatives. And I feel that a lot of the things that are negative are the same things that are negative in many other industries.

So for example, I noticed that localization, at least when I studied both literature and my master’s degree, we were mainly women, and most of the people who work in the industry that I know are women, but a lot of the people leading localization programs are men. And that’s very frustrating to me, because a lot of them just got to localization, again, as we mentioned, like they were doing something and localization kind of fell onto their laps, and they ended up directing it. And it’s very frustrating to me, because it’s such a big group of talented women that are kind of like getting cheated out of these opportunities. So that’s something that I don’t really appreciate. And then one of the things that I’m kind of tired of is because I feel it’s a little rote is, now in LinkedIn is everyone is trying to market themselves, and everyone’s coming up with posts and things they want to say. And you know, it’s evolving a lot as a social media, I keep seeing the same things over and over again. And so it’s a lot about, you know, like you’re preaching to the choir, you know. A lot of it is you come in and you say like, what’s the difference between localization and translation, but the only people are reading are other localization people who already know and who are going to like your posts, and nobody’s going to be against what you’re saying. And so it’s like, you feel sometimes that we’re too within again, we’re just staying in our little bubble, like you actually need to come out and talk about these things in a way that is interesting to the people who are paying for localization, who have to deal with localization, but are not actually, you know. No CEO is gonna sit down and read your post about what’s the difference between translation and localization and learn something about it and like, changes practices.

Yeah, I feel that it’s getting a little bit too endemic. And I think we need to bring that knowledge out of that box and learn, again, speak the language of other people, and not just our language, because, again, preaching to the choir. We know, we know you have to invest in the quality, we know machine translation’s not great like, you don’t need to tell us that. It’s, you know, we have to come up with analysis. And we have to come up with ways of bringing this conversation to other areas to other fields, and not not just within our field.

Andrej Zito 

So what type of content would catch your attention on LinkedIn?

Camila Pedraza 

So content that normally catches my attention is cross functional content. So when it’s not a localization manager telling me about her program, but more like a localization manager, or an engineer telling me about how they made localization better, how they partnered up, you know. So again, this whole Netflix thing, like, oh, this is like marketing and branding, and, you know, all of these teams coming together, and it’s so useful, right? I love that type of content. I would love if we were more present. And again, conferences about just like business and things in general, instead of just having conversations around localization alone, does that make sense? Like, I’m very happy to see just conference like Locworld and localization day. But it’s just like localizers talking to other localizers. So yeah, I feel that I want to learn more about what this data analyst whoever, like in this other side of the world figured out about localization and I can learn from, right, and can bring to my own company. So yeah, I would be more interested in that. I would be interested in in seeing more of that.

Andrej Zito 

I have something in pipelines. Especially like that. Yeah. But it’s going to take some time. Camila, well, this was this was a pleasure. We made it. Oh, I’m so fast. Exactly. Final question. Final words from you. If you could speak to the minds of everyone in the industry, what would you tell them?

Camila Pedraza 

What would I tell the minds of everyone in the industry? Wow. Speak up for yourself. I think we’re still again, having a lot of unfortunately being the the lonely person in the room, the only person in the company just sitting there just like hoping that they had more to do, hoping that they could have more power. But it’s, nobody’s going to defend you, nobody’s going to come and say like, Hey, we should listen to Camila. Like more. No, you have to do it for yourself, you have to get out of your shell, you have to hone your negotiation skills, you have to hone your public speaking skills, you know, you if you want to do something, and I know that you, I wish it were like that. Like, if I show people that I’m doing a good job, and that things are working on the quality is great that people are gonna realize magically that, you know, they should invest more in this. No, unfortunately, you have to play the game. You again, you have to learn how do these people talk, what is interesting to them, how do I, you know, work with, with the budgets with the ROI, is, with the KPIs, with the OKRs, you know. Just, we have to get out of that shell and just become the same way we are as translators kind of experts in every single subject, and then kind of ready to take on any single subject and, and do that more on the local and the localization sphere. And I think that that’s going to sort of propel a lot of people forward, and they’re going to be able to not just maybe find roles in their current company, because unfortunately, it’s very hard, but look for opportunities in other companies and elsewhere where they can have more impact, you know. Like build, and conflicts or build the role that they want to have instead of just do whatever is asked of them, internally.

Andrej Zito 

Thank you.

Camila Pedraza 

You’re welcome.

Andrej Zito 

Thank you for that. Again, thank you very much for coming to

Camila Pedraza 

This was really great. Thank you so much for you know reaching out, I really appreciate it. I’m sorry that it took so long for us to actually end up doing this. It’s been hectic as you know, like new job just two months ago, so not not the best time and at the same time, the worst time but yeah, really great having this conversation. You’re doing something really, really cool for this industry really enjoy. I really enjoyed listening to the podcast, which I didn’t know like I hadn’t seen these interviews before I hadn’t actually right and discovering more about what you’re doing. But you know, like teaching others and coming up with ways of like, people learning how to do localization project management, which is there’s not that much of that out there. So I’m happy that there’s more content like that, and it’s been really an honor just participating in this. So thank you so much for having me.

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