Localization Academy

Operations Management In Localization – Yann Le Boulch

What is operations management all about? We talked to Yann Le Boulch about the intricacies of managing ops in localization.

Welcome to this episode of The Localization Podcast where you’ll learn about the following:

  • What is operations management
  • Pressure on pricing and lower rates
  • When to promote VS when to hire
  • AI in ops management
  • Leadership & trust
  • How to manage difficult people

Andrej Zito 

Maybe for starters, tell me, where are you joining us from?

Yann Le Boulch 

I’m telling you from a small village, located in, in the Greater Paris area, about 35 kilometers from Paris, center of Paris. So yeah, it’s the countryside, I, I love the big city to live there with my family. And my kids. I like to live there, it’s quiet on at the same time not too far from the city. So if I want to go there for concerts for any kind of cultural event, that’s manageable. So I have the advantage of living in the countryside and living not too far from from a city.

Andrej Zito 

Did you feel like you needed to escape from Paris? Yeah,

Yann Le Boulch 

that’s right. Especially for a couple of years. Now. They are doing a lot of changes inside the city. And it’s very difficult to, to live there. And of course, the rains are expensive. Everything is rather difficult. So as a student I enjoyed the live there was very hectic. But now getting older. It’s it’s I have or interest. But still Yeah, I love the city. It’s beautiful place on the order. Yeah. Often.

Andrej Zito 

Did you discuss this change with your kids? How do they perceive this change were they excited about?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, actually, before that 10 years ago, we lived in the South of France, in near nice enough units on the French Riviera. So it was very, very, very nice place. The seaside with beautiful weather, lots of interesting as well, activities over there. And when we came back to Paris around my kids were not so happy about it, because the temperature, the weather for the friends, etc. So they didn’t agree that much. But no, I think they they enjoy that because they can go to the city, they can go with friends there. Yeah, there is much more to do over there. So I think not they’re not even teenagers anymore. They’re adults. But when they were teenagers, they preferred even close to a to a CD. That’s true.

Andrej Zito 

Do they have any interest in language industry? Or localization? By chance?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, actually, even that, well, my, my wife is German, so they live in a bilingual environment. So you know, they, they speak both languages. And something they are you used to. And we used to travel a lot with them so that they could visit other places. It turns out, they were open minded to different cultures, different languages. Actually, my daughter started studying languages, but after that, she decided to find another path. And my son now is not really interested in in that. So therefore, they follow a different different path. No localization at all. I’m the only one in the family. Yeah, the way

Andrej Zito 

the your daughter decided to change the path.

Yann Le Boulch 

Actually, initially, she chose what will be for the most natural or easiest option in terms of education, extroverts, potential writers, he was more interested in what she wanted most was studying psychology. So while she can be a bilingual psychologist, so yeah, I mean, she loves languages, and she’s pretty gifted for that she she speaks English, German, French, of course, so easily. So that’s something that could be useful for sure in the future. But they were not really I think maybe I didn’t give them an advocate too much for for the industry, because I was working long hours and working over the weekend getting stressed sometimes about deliveries to customers and problems with tools or whatever, finding resources and so maybe, oh, maybe it’s not that fun. Not going to that branch. Yeah, so they chose something different.

Andrej Zito 

Alright, that that’s a great entry for us to talk about localization for

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah. Well, no, I’ve worked in the in the industry for over 25 years. So I’ve seen it change it. It’s totally different from what it was when I started in the mid 90s. And of course, it’s much more structured professional, because it was in the early days where it was really difficult and us, not really professionalized, I would say, without much tools or, or whatever, it’s something that become more normal. Business.

Andrej Zito 

Let’s talk about those early days. Did you show interest in languages when you were a teenager?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, I think pretty early on I, I liked, what different cultures, different languages and traveling and being able to talk in the language where in the country I was, in, I used to go along very often to Spain, Italy, and etc. So, I was really learning on my own and then at school, it was something that came very, very early into into my life. And naturally, I thought, I thought that really could have a job in this sector. At the time, it was, could be basically a translator, then there was not much more option with many more options to, to repeat work with, with languages, but then with European Union older, say, the creation of the Schengen space, etc, where people could travel visit other countries very easily. Yeah, some job opportunities came up as well, companies were globalizing their, their activities, they need to sell their products in different countries. And so they needed people to translate to adapt to the culture and to the language, they wanted to market their product. So yeah, it started becoming something rather interesting. But higher focus at university or in schools. So that’s, that evolved. And that’s why I chose this, this path also. So I could combine both when I liked and what I wanted to do in my professional life. So that was a good mix.

Andrej Zito 

So you were personally studying translation? Was it possible at the time?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, no, I studied foreign languages. And with on top of that, economy, and marketing, etc. And then I got a degree in translation, school. So say, or university, but in France, we say school, but it’s more University. And this, of course, we were we get the education, the background and the type of form of training to become translators. But not only we could work in different international organization, to travel the carrier. Yeah, focusing on international business and so on. So it was not really concrete at the time, but it was we we knew there were some potential, and there were some opportunities that will, that would follow. So that’s what I did. And I don’t regret that. Actually, I could meet many people from different countries. You know, this was the beginning of Erasmus time, you heard about it in Europe, where we could exchange and spend some months in European countries and meeting different people and professors, whatever. So that so that was a good environment.

Andrej Zito 

Is that how you met your wife?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, not really. I didn’t meet her in restaurants, but more in the holidays, not in France or in Germany, in Spain, actually. So no, it’s like it. I guess it became very common. But that was international story.

Andrej Zito 

So did you did you actually start working as a translator after school

Yann Le Boulch 

or? Yeah, well, when I graduated I, I started as a translator in a small company, but which was acquired by an attempt was a US company that was really in the process of acquisition and merging, etc, of all the key players in Europe. So yeah, back in mid 90s, early 90s. The industry was really scattered there. Were not the big groups, or the bigger companies, corporations, call them that we have now. So in every country, they could have dozens of smaller LSPs. And in Germany, France or Spain, Italy. So big companies, like At that time, I enrage or bomb, studied and studied, merging, acquiring all these players, local players, and build up these, these groups that we know nowadays, like SDL Lionbridge, definitely, LW s no, sorry about that. So this was a very good opportunity as well for people. I like translating, but I felt it was not really my objective, professional objective. So new roles were created to, because the projects were getting bigger and bigger for very large customers like Microsoft, IBM, etcetera. So they started, and they had their own translation department at that time. So they started externalizing, and is needed to become more professional as well. So they created the roles to manage the project. So the opportunities to become a product managers and cannot. And basically, there was no real training, you need to learn, honestly, that on the spot on the fly, on your own, just the best you could do. And then some particular curriculum and trainings were put in place in these big companies. So the different people that used to work together across the countries, or the the offices where I’ve been created or setup, and you need to work accordingly with more harmonized processes, to their constant level of quality, etc. So they were trainings for project managers, and something that were organized around bourbon, rain bridge at a time, and bone, where we used to meet for one week, different PMS, product managers, from all the different branches, different countries, and we work and set there for a couple of days, and brainstorm and add training, consultants and whatever so that there were a lot of investment, ready to get professional project managers. So and that’s, that’s actually where really kicked off my career in this industry. As a project manager, I will not consider myself as a translator, because translators are really expert. And I really respect their work. And when they do, I just started translating maybe for a couple of months.

Andrej Zito 

But there is actually there is actually the question that I had for you. Because initially early, you were kind of like, fascinated, you wanted to learn new languages. But then you mentioned that at some point, you discovered that being a translator is not your professional objective. So do you remember, like what happened? Like, what did you discover about the role of a translator that may you shift this perspective?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, yes, I actually had some I remember, I remember that, because we were specialized in it, and software localization, and it was really about translating huge printed documentation and manuals at the time, without any CAD tool, or obviously, really, with basic programs, etc. And I found it really not really interested, I was not really interested in in it and how to use the software, etc. I found it very boring, to be honest, not really interested in I would not imagine doing that work for the next four years. And I liked as well, really working with different teams and having the overview of over the full process not only on on what part of the localization process or workflow, even though it’s really important, I want you to see the full picture and being able to coordinate different people working on the project, and having as well, the, the interactions with the client. So that was something that was really motivating and I liked very early in the early stages of my professional career. So I thought well, translating, and just having the monitor in front of me and the program and the content to translate. I didn’t find it enough motivating for me, and I knew that there would not have been the best time During that, so there were other possibilities. And that would have also given me the opportunity to, to talk to communicate in different language to visit other people, etc. So that was something I, I chose, rather than just sticking to the pure translation.

Andrej Zito 

So eventually, your decision, and your new career led to being the Operations Director and Director of Operations, how are we going to call it which is going to be the main topic of our interview? So maybe, let’s just jump right into it. What is actually operations management about you mentioned that you started as a project manager? How does project management differ from operations management?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, I think that’s production operations, sometimes we tend to use the same or have the same concept for these different words, but I think production is part of operations. Or we actually produce, obviously, and deliver a product where operation it’s really is more, or to assign all the talents or resources to, to deliver a service or a product or, or service, etc. And following them, quality, time and requirements. And, of course, profitability, expectations. And this is something it’s the bigger picture, I would say, offline of the business. Well, what can I say about it? So yeah, and also, you’re the target is really to, to produce the service that would meet the client’s requirements and making him happy, and to develop the business with that client and to retain to retain it. So it’s, it’s the way with different operations.

Andrej Zito 

Like when you mentioned that you move from, to the production manager to Operations Manager, which included no extension to managing different teams, does what you in the essence, do change that much, or not so much, because you’re still just managing teams, you’re just managing more diverse teams. Am I getting this right? Or? Or did you feel like it was completely different world stepping up to the operations manager?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, there were Yeah, it’s true that the teams were different. But I think the expectations what we the defensive words, KPIs we had were different also. It’s something I know, we’ll be discussing later. And your list as well. Questions? Yeah, we had other metrics, or indicators. For production, basically, no indicators were mostly about productivity, and so on why for operations, its finance, productivity, of course, quality, well, for production, also, quality was there. But also for operations, it’s really, there’s a big emphasis on on the the financial aspect of, of the activity where objectives in terms of margin, profitability, revenue, turnover, etc. which differs slightly from purely production. So and the teams and the skills of the teams and their the tasks that they were doing. Also, were were different. So the different teams different way to evaluate them and manage them.

Andrej Zito 

So when you started managing these new teams doesn’t mean you had to learn everything from each different function or role. Do you think it’s even important for managers to know what their people or teams are doing? Or to what kind of level? Do you need to acquire some knowledge to understand them?

Yann Le Boulch 

I think, Well, for me, being a product managers, or product managers give me a pretty good picture of the different types of roles that were in the company and in production. So even though I was not a specialist, or I knew what localization engineer used to do, and understood it pretty well, I know how DTP worked. The different tools they did the use their matrix, also, vendor management I knew about as well, how to recruit external translators, etc. So Even though I was not expecting these different fields, I knew how this was articulated and how all this was structured and understood pretty much for this work. So to answer your question to be the operations manager, you don’t have at all to be a specialist. But of course, you have a minimum understanding of, of translation or localization project, and see how all the different stakeholders are normally, or how this works without being a specialist. If you were

Andrej Zito 

in the position, let’s say, let’s say you have your own company, and you have to fill the position for an operations manager, would you rather pick someone who had experience working as an operations manager outside of localization? Or would you prefer to pick someone who is maybe like a senior project manager? And you already know them?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, that’s a good question. Because something I could notice already, over the last month, that there are, let’s say, two approaches. Some companies, especially big ones, now tend to look for people from outside of the industry, to be operation managers, or to run the say, operational excellence, team, etc. So people, of course, with background in other industry, in operations, or people with a consultant role, maybe sometimes very focused on cost, cost killers, in previous experience, but without any knowledge about our industry. So I think it’s something that we can discuss, because it’s, I will not tell you what is which option is best. I think it’s important to know our industry, because it’s so specific, don’t I guess even though this became more standard, no, there are some really some curriculum at university, you can learn to be a project manager or localization Project Manager, you can, you know, it’s much more structured than what it used to be. There are some organizations now, international ones who provide their training. So wherever webinars, even submits over the places over the word, but I think if you, depending on your mission, if you don’t have this background, you should be able to deal with that if you rely on really strong and senior people in in operations in the different fields of operations, or in production. Because these people would be the one running the daily or day to day business, you’re just there to have to provide some strategy or vision guidelines, but you don’t really have to be hands on and start stepping in some projects or helping people on concrete task. So especially in big groups, or big companies think it’s something that would understand to look for talent, outside of the industry, for small ones, still think that someone will use phone experience and in in operations, or product managers or team leader or someone who, of course, is used to manage people, because this is at the end of the day. People management also think it’s, it’s a good, good option. So it’s not yes, or no, or it’s both, I think, the way to go, I would have told you no way we cannot have someone who doesn’t know anything about this. But of course, um, I see. And I’ve got two examples of situations where their company has recruited people from outside their industry. And so far, I don’t know if it failed or not. I guess it works. But yeah, if really in your organization, you have strong and senior people in their role and think it should be a good a good choice. Also,

Andrej Zito 

maybe to flip the question, do you see yourself working as an operations manager for? I don’t want to say it because maybe that’s somewhat close to localization. But I don’t know like in a restaurant chain.

Yann Le Boulch 

I hope that if Well, in the localization, localization industry, we are open to that to people without the technical background and knowledge of industry and experience there. And we are ready to offer the position to people like that, I think it should be done. Also, the other way around, that people would have had most of their carrier in the industry localization industry can work in other fields, I would personally be open to that. So shouldn’t be an issue. If I don’t have to be an expert in aerospace or I don’t know, carry industry. And whatever, of course, I think it’s it works pretty much the same way it’s becoming very standard operations are run, we have the same concerns about profitability, but quality and deadlines where we can optimize and improve constantly, processes. So just a question of learning more about the core business. And it should work. I think,

Andrej Zito 

you mentioned the word strategy a few times, as one of the key roles. What do you what do we understand with a strategy for operations? Because I don’t know, like I never put together and strategies, it’s well and understand it. But to me, like the goals are the same, right? Like you always want to satisfy the customer, you want to keep them you want to make them happy. And I guess you mentioned the profits a few times, and you also want to make sure that your team is happy with the conditions. So how does how do you create a strategy for operations? What does it include? And why does it change over time? Well,

Yann Le Boulch 

strategy is, obviously the company’s strategy is all tied together between sales operations, human resources, etc. And, of course, technology. So it’s how this is combining works together with the same purpose for the company that is designed by the, by the CEO for operations in the unit can be bought technology. If we take this example, like the deployment of a tool or production system, or new CAT tool, or well, ay, ay ay, artificial intelligence or AI, and how we implement that. And for me, this is this has to do with the strategy. So it’s, it’s a word that encompasses different types of things, it can be about also about the pricing, we want to, to apply to win one contract and what we are able to put in place to be more attractive for client in terms of in terms of sales strategy, and so on. Yes, it’s, it’s what I meant.

Andrej Zito 

So it’s mostly related to the overall company structure, I understand, or do you have like a specific strategy for just for operations? Like how you work with the corporate strategy?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, I think it’s also talking about leadership. And in operations, it’s, it needs to be aligned with the corporate strategy, but the operations manager needs to have a vision for, for his teams, and to be able to engage people into the direction he wants to, to go to, and to do that, in its vision. And this is also a common vision strategy ongoing together, because to achieve the vision in the strategy, and also to achieve that strategy, you need a vision. So it’s part of the responsibility of the production manager to to motivate the team to explain the objectives, where he wants to go, when why and how it will, you will do that. So, this is part of the role of the operations manager and then his responsibility as as a leader, he can he can develop his own strategy to say to achieve that, but it needs to be aligned with the corporate strategy, of course. But yeah, it I don’t know if I make myself clear enough about that. But I will say there is a company strategy and then it can as a leader of his own team and group of people, the operations manager needs to have as well as his specific one for operation.

Andrej Zito 

You mentioned the word profits and profitability if you times the root words. I wasn’t offended. And then of course, the clients only want quality. And I guess the teams want to be happy.

Yann Le Boulch 

They want all the not only quality they want cheap. And, of course, meeting their requirements and as fast as possible. So it’s yeah, basically the the three angles we need to tackle. But yes, that’s right. Sorry, I interrupted you.

Andrej Zito 

No worries, no worries you, you elaborated on what I wanted to say. So now my question is, how do you as Operations Manager, balance these things like the need to sometimes sometimes make trade offs? Does it depend on the client? Does it depend on who’s working with you for different clients? Who is part of the team? How do you answer this? ongoing question quality versus profitability? And clients? May be a broad question,

Yann Le Boulch 

ya know, it’s usually this question arises when, what other thing? Yeah, I’m just strategy level they when we want? Well, usually, the way it works is, there is a RFQ, or request for quotation, or RFP before RFI, and then the company will decide if they are interested or not, or if they want to, to reply and to propose to make an offer, so to say, and to win this contract. And at that time, we need to discuss all these aspects that you decided and design a model where we could meet the different criteria, which we’ve talked about, about profitability if we need to trade offs, indeed, or compromises if we hope to achieve them, while the quality, it’s more about the customer’s requirements, and expectations, so it can be through tools or technology again, or the profiles of the resources won’t or the location, we want to run the product from and, and how we can be as adaptable or charge as possible to do that, so at that time, we decide and we see how we, we can manage to produce the expected level of service within the objective, the financial objectives or gross margin that we we have, we have decided, then you need to be smart enough to want to build a model where the costs are reduced or enough minimized. So we can have this margin. So using tools and technology, as I said before, and resources, and this will influence the overall production model that want to put in place for this client. And if we are successful in the selection process, and we get that contract, we should already have in place the model that would allow us to get some profit or to make some money within the quality and then turn around time criteria that have been specified by the client. So it’s not just once the the contract is there that we need to think about it really upfront. How are we? Yeah, what what type of service, what model production model we want to put in place. So we are in the best position to to meet these objectives, money, quality, and etc.

Andrej Zito 

I’m going to ask him maybe tricky question. And of course, you don’t have to say any specifics. But I’m just wondering if you ever were in a situation where the model, as you call it, was unfavorable, unfavorable to any of the parties by the parties? I would say, we’re balancing the client, the company, and then also the team that will be executing on the client.

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, no, I would say pretty often, because there is no there is the theory and we don’t know I mean, when we there is part of risk and uncertainty when we answer RFQ. I mean, we have the specs, we from the client, we know what what we tend to do our best to deep dive and understand what he wants to achieve the type of products you want to get and how and then we need to as well to assess the feasibility and the risk and how to mitigate this those risk. Because we know that there may be some there will be also some discussions with the client and they will tend to let go initiate lower rates, etc. So, yeah, we need to accept the risk, and see how we can mitigate them. Without knowing for sure if this eventually will be successful or not, I mean, we try to mitigate as much as possible there is, but we need to take them. Because what I mean, currently, and it’s not really new, but then the contest is rather, there is a lot of competition and a lot of aggressivity, I would say, regarding pricing, all over the place. So it’s difficult to differentiate. So very often, it’s about the money and providing an offering lower rate rates, so we can win the deal. And then once we have that, we need to, to set up the best model and see how we can turn this into a profitable endeavor. I mean, it’s, it’s part of the of the job as well, in operations, we inherit, sometimes from difficult and challenging contracts, we know that this will be difficult, because very often about money and about expectations. But if we really don’t try to do that, I mean, we simply won’t be able to, to grow and food written plans. And so yeah, we need to there is part of uncertainty and, and risk that is absolutely necessary to accept. But then when we have I mean, we we know enough, we have people experience, also that are in the pre sales stage that really looking to the details and seer. Really scrutinizing and looking at all the different aspects of the, of the of the specs and requirements. And unless it is really a totally unusual or unexpected project with very brand new requirements that we’ve never seen before. I mean, most of the time, we have already packaged solutions, and that we know that we work there, there will always be some adjustments or something that we need to fine tune etc. But it’s yeah. It’s part of the of the work and especially in operation something we have to we have to deal with every day. There is again, the throwing away theories, right, the way we project where your whole contract was presented, described excetera. And the model will put in place to produce and deliver to the client, but then there are all these unexpected circumstances and conditions that we need to deal with

Andrej Zito 

anything the pressure from the clients, the I would say ongoing pressure from the clients to reduce the rates, is it justified? Is it related to the technology advancements? Or do they just always want lower and lower and lower rates? And

Yann Le Boulch 

justify it? From their perspective? Probably because the their budget? Well, they have to translate more and more content. This is for sure. I mean, we see that every year it’s increasing. There is new content created, they have to while they’re growing internationally, so globally. So they do need to work translated this is this is a fact but their budget maybe are not growing in the same way. So they try to get more content translated more products released in different languages, but with probably decreasing budget and or budget that is increasing slightly in comparison. So, they have also this constraints and they need to find options to get this done within their own their own budget. And they know I think for that our clients are more aware and saving than before they know was definitely about translation memories and kept tools. So they know they can translate faster and cheaper. They know know about machine translation more and more clients are really asking to integrate machine translation in their workflow. And of course they want they want to have the corresponding the discount, they know while they are reducing them. I will say the translation no work with Mark and explain that using connectors and cm is connected to our TMS. So this reduces also the manual work and, and manual effort. So the the thing that they benefit from this as well, because this is something that benefits to say to best to the LSPs. So I think this is justified, but what is remains the core value is still the work of the translators. And what I find little bit unfortunate is really that they are the one also suffering from the indirect significantly over the last years, even though they have more work they have, they can translate more efficiently as well, etc, etc. But it’s true that they’re really they didn’t get much money for the work they are producing on it, it’s the way I see that. So this is where I think the challenge will be in the future for translators, they will need to adapt, of course, and to what are some of them are still resistant to machine translation more or less than this actually, even though they say the contrary, I’m sure that they use machine translation, but the their work, per se, will, will change. And they will need to also to adapt and work differently. And I think they’re still, they’re still needed. Absolutely. And they will still need to have a human being reading or post editing, a translation that was produced by artificial intelligence, or whatever, because it’s still not there, in terms of accuracy, etc. But this will be different. I mean, the, the trump the role of the translator will be will also evolve, we have to evolve even more faster than what we thought. So your question was about the rates and is justified, I think it’s translation and is considered as a commodity. And like, what you can buy like pencil or whatever, by procurement. So the, the buyer, the word like they would buy, you know, huge quantity of paper or whatever in the company. And so we need to find some value somewhere else, by selling no additional services or by providing technical solutions to the clients, portals, you know, I was mentioning connectors or reporting, reporting tools where you can access on real time, the status of the project when they can order the projects, and almost automatically in the in the platform is there, so it’s already there. But it’s something where we can differentiate as well and, and charge something on top of the, the traditional word and the translation effort, like groceries or ACOs, or lots of different types of services that there is, it’s really needed to have a more diverse and more wider range of services than only purely translation. Otherwise, it’s, yeah, it’ll be difficult to make money.

Andrej Zito 

So speaking of the technology advancements, and where maybe the LSPs can provide more value than they used to so far, how do you see the operations evolve with AI?

Yann Le Boulch 

So it’s, um, I took some notes, because it’s like evolving everyday. There is there is a lot of excitement and hype around the world, not only what AI but loud language models or generative AI, because AI is there I mean, in translation and operations already for decades. I mean, with empty, it’s not something new, but it’s more really about the new models that have been been developed recently, and maybe for the last six months. It’s it’s becoming really crazy, not not only in our business, of course, but as a side effect in our business. So in operation, I think it’s difficult to keep a cool mind at the moment and to see exactly what what’s will be the actual application and there will be some of them already becoming clear like I’ve seen recently as a webinar or something, the Mobile Quality Assessment of translation, this is something that with charity, a I work with in operations, and that would be definitely suitable and helpful. There will be also some content creation directly into the target languages without going through translation. But this is also maybe restricted to some very particular content, maybe marketing emails, or communication, or blogs, or this type of, or things that could be really generated directly by engage and shouldn’t agents, and not in all languages. So that’s pretty limited. So far, it’s not that loud array of languages, a couple of languages only. And what else in operations? See, that could be impactful. For us. I mean, you we all play with GPT. And well, can be amazed with the, with the results, or sometimes it’s a bit observed that if translator can use this, when doing this translation and ask, what is this concept about? What is the definition of that, where can I find this, this can be helpful to access some, some information very quickly and have some reliable, you always need to be careful with that. As long as you don’t use as is the information you get, I mean, it’s depending also on the type of content you’re dealing with can be they can be helpful. And also I think, MT will benefit from Ai. Furthermore, translation, but also, it’s probably gaining even more accuracy in the, in the future, near future, probably. And if there was, if there were two other, I would say fancy features I liked with. And that could be also applied in operation, just creating slide decks or PowerPoints, and summarizing also large amounts of data where you, if you have, I don’t know you receive from a client, huge amount of references or documents to support you during your translation, you can have this image because you cannot read and go through all of these if these were talking about hundreds of pages, you can have this possibility for some synthesis and summary of some of these documents with all the relevant information. So I think I’m not really again, an expert, I don’t have the full picture of it. But over the last six months is maybe the couple of things and applications I could see directly in operations.

Andrej Zito 

Now. Do you see Chad GBT somehow helping you with team management?

Yann Le Boulch 

In a specific situation, or or,

Andrej Zito 

I would say in general, like, you know, like when we’re talking about operations management, so that, you know, like, a big aspect of that is, you know, assigning resources, which partially includes people. And also I guess, you have to deal with people and maybe some of their requests some of their questions.

Yann Le Boulch 

I would not exclude that. But I don’t think that would be really the best fit, because dealing with human beings is not under thinking with concrete examples, but I think it could help. But I will not blindly follow that. It will not be the first tool I will use to manage people. There is too much psychology at stake depends on the people. You’re not dealing with robots. And yeah, it can give you some reference to maybe management gurus or how you deal with specific situation which would be advisable how you would approach lack of motivation or how to develop further the skills of someone in your team, etc. Yeah, maybe these type of questions could be helpful, but like, please check GPT How should I manage my team? I don’t think but again, depends on the prompt under the way Do you use that? And it’s what is valid today may not be valid anymore tomorrow, it may be different. So I can just give you my five cents as of today.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, maybe there was a stupid question. But I was trying to find a way how to segue from large language mental models to team management and leadership. Because that’s our, let’s say, second set of questions that we’re going to talk about. So let’s talk about that. You mentioned that, as an operations manager, obviously, you need to be a leader, because you’re responsible for so many teams, how would you describe your leadership style? And maybe even start by giving us your definition of what is a leadership style? Are there different styles for different people?

Yann Le Boulch 

Maybe management may be different, but that leadership, I think leadership is a wise, again, another fancy word that we all should be used in everything in everything we do. They would they should be or supposed to be the leaders and the non leaders. I think it’s doesn’t work this week, I think people made it was the way you phrase your question, if are we born leaders or they will become leaders? Or are you I think everyone has this potential, and can be a leader in his field or domain? And, yeah, in every, almost every aspect, but I, I think, yeah, this is, regardless of the age and the position, in a company or in the org chart, it’s really Indian in the attitude. And it’s really what what I think is important, you have to have this vision and set objectives and to, to get done secure the engagement of your teams and the people you’re working with, to get their buy in or to the regarding this vision and the objectives. So it’s up to the leader to motivate to explain to, to train the people to communicate on on what the vision is, and what we want to really to be achieved there. So, as far as I’m concerned, a more convincing explain to people rather than imposing things, because being a leader is not saying just yeah, this is the way it used to be, it’s really to make people understand and to, to rally, and to be able to embark on using different words with two other people following you basically not like sheep, but really because they are convinced that the system, the way to go, and, and the right approach. And this is, the whole challenge is to, to keep the momentum, the motivation, so people are really following and supporting the vision, don’t know if it answers your, your question. And to do that, for the year, I need to say, active listening to critical thinking to be able to adapt to listen to people, it’s wiser, but not just by being polite, but really to be open as well to the feedback he gets from, from the teams and etc. And it’s about trust and loyalty, also to build that so that the people are really reliable and engaged. And you know that and they know that they are loyal because they trust you. So it’s a lot of alchemy and working in this. I don’t see as a there is no recipe for that. And it’s really individual It depends, as you said, on the on the people you’re to deal with. And it needs to be adapted as well to the to the circumstances.

Andrej Zito 

I’m wondering what kind of a leader you would be if you were managing me. Chief, I mentioned this to you before, but I think I used to be sort of a black sheep in almost every company where I work for, and many times it’s that the decisions or let’s say division, you use the word vision before that maybe the company has or my manager has doesn’t make much sense to me. How would you deal with someone who doesn’t, let’s say, rationally, get the vision or what you’re trying to get The people to do, how would you convince them?

Yann Le Boulch 

I mean, when you were saying you were the black sheep, it’s because you were put into that position or you were yourself. Can I say that because of your attitude or

Andrej Zito 

partially because of my attitude, but when it comes to how we were doing things, and I’m pretty sure that you had this experience as well, because you used to work for large organizations. And let’s say if you want to, I don’t know, see change going way faster, as an employee may be used to just certain things, but you don’t hear back from the management because I don’t know they don’t want to change or they’re too slow to change. So this kind of like creates a conflict, or sometimes, you know, like, I can understand maybe now, why, for example, you know, like, when we’re talking about profitability, like I understand why the management needs to achieve certain level of profitability, but for example, if I’m a project manager working for a client, may be my main goal is to give the client the best service, even if it let’s say, hits the profitability, this can create some sort of like a conflict, you know, and sometimes it’s really just like, in my mind, my reasoning, what makes sense to me is not fully aligned with what maybe the company or my manager wants. So how would you deal with these situations where the people just I don’t know have completely different mindset or different reasoning and they don’t see the things as you or the company wants them to?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, it’s I think, you you asked me my management style I said I’m I like enrolling bullying people I think it’s important in the in the food process and to get the opinion as well the people and the feedback and to be open minded and to adjust as well their goals accordingly I will not say that the goal will be fully and thoroughly changed because I mean, as a manager, you need to follow as well and to be aligned with the top management strategy and objectives. So you cannot simply just know who will do totally differently and when look for look at different objectives, but you can if you manage to achieve the expected objectives using a different way or different no path why not I mean, I’m I think I’m open minded to that. But on the I mean, the core objective will not be it will not be honest to tell you I would change my mind because someone in the team is saying no, I don’t want to do that this way. I think this is nonsense. I will not do that now of course it’s at the end of the day you need to deliver you need to be in sync with company strategy but there will be some different way to achieve the same results and and for that I live enough their freedom or no room to the people in my teams to do that this way to use their own judgment to to achieve what they think is the is the is the right result. So there may be trade offs or you’re what we’re describing as okay maybe for this client specific client we will be the priority is to keep him happy because we want to retain him even though we may not get as much money as expected but what matters is that we keep this client so this something we that is acceptable Of course if all the clients almost lose money sorry losing losing money, of course. I was about six now. Yeah, we have to have we have to see the big picture and see if we can make some adjustment for some clients and for the others. Yeah, have a different approach. But going back to your question how I wouldn’t manage that. I think it’s being the black sheep since negative we always need someone with a critical thinking it’s important to know really to to have someone in the team who would say like well devil’s advocate or whatever we call them and just some time to check you a little bit that because then say No look, or what we are doing here is is nonsense. We we should not be doing this way we have at least to, to, to trigger this, this critical thinking and to take a step aside and say, Okay, maybe indeed, we should consider doing things differently. And we need, you know, new ideas or when we need to be a giant ants here, or we have not tried this with this client. So maybe we should try to do things differently and not just really being stubborn on keeping on doing things. Because it’s the way we’ve always done that. So it’s, yeah, I always had this type of people, but then I will different differentiate people with brilliant, purely negative approach, we’re just in this, in this mode, just saying no, and resisting any kind of change, or I disagree, just by principle, to the people who think we’re smart in advance, the other one’s smart also, but different attitude is not really. And would say, okay, maybe we should consider a different approach people with no out of outside about the box thinking were different. And this is something that is very variable, because we have people very good at executing and, you know, just applying the process, and workflow step by step. And they do that perfectly. But sometimes, it’s important to have people with different mindset would say, we’ll do things differently, and be at the end, achieving the same result or even be more efficient. So, I will not just lock you in, in the room as a lead ship, so that you are not in contact with other people, because you may, you may cause some disruption in the team, but I will try to find to make the upset the most of your skills and what you can bring to your contribution to the team. I don’t say this is easy, especially when you’re dealing with many people and having a specific situation, but it’s, it’s part of of the managers responsibility to do that. I don’t think that just taking people out of the team, just because they’re different. approach is, is the solution.

Andrej Zito 

I like when you said that everybody can be a leader, regardless of the position, what does it mean to you to be a leader? How can let’s say a translator, we were talking about translators, or a project manager, aka translator or a project manager be a leader

Yann Le Boulch 

is someone who seems very exaggerated, but someone who inspire other people in what he does, or what she does. Every day, can be a translator, I mean, who was something that could be read, shared with others that could inspire? I think it’s inspiring people, people who do follow or do the same or try to, to, to see that yet take this for themselves as well and see if this is beneficial to them, and they will do the same in their in their work and follow that person and to where that person is acting. Not globally, but for maybe specific examples. So I think this is leadership as well on someone who would, as well get would rally people and lead people in your direction, doing something. Just trying to find examples that can be product managers, definitely. To inspire your colleagues. And just, yeah, maybe doing things differently. People do the same because they see the results that this is working for. You will so yeah, I think it’s everyone is as this is possibility.

Andrej Zito 

Were there times where you fail to be a leader?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah. Well, I think it’s, it was when I started as I was a young manager with some preconceived ideas about on management was extraordinary. More mostly theory and I thought that I didn’t, wasn’t able actually to empower and something would said before it’s really a leader is someone who empower people and make feel them responsible for what they’re doing or giving them the ability to fulfill their role completely and not just executing because they are asked to do that job, but at least to understand seeing the point and understanding what they are doing, why it is important, and why they should do that. properly. And this is also this depends a lot on the trust that the leader would grant to this to the people in the team. And I think mutual trust is key there. And is part of leadership. Also people feels that their manager or leader with the leadership is trusting them, that they have the right tools, or they that they go through the training, coaching, or mentoring. And they’re able to do that properly, that they’re working autonomously. And this is something important also that people feel empowered enough. So they can work on their own not having people you were asking something about micromanagement. But I think it’s really, totally contradictory and the opposite of of leading, micromanaging people, it’s, it’s a killing the trust in themselves and their engagement as well. So going back here to where I felt, it’s brilliant. I didn’t delegate, not because of you, because I didn’t trust in other people. And I wanted to control things. auditorium, launch control, or what people were doing, because I was really concerned about quality. And very, I would say under the pressure from from the client, etc. So I thought that by conferring more and doing more things, myself, that would work better. And this is I was totally overwhelmed, I realized that people were not engaged and committed enough what they had to do, because they knew that I would be doing this anyway after that, and that I will be controlling. And that’s simply didn’t work. And for myself, it was not a solution. And for the people, either because they didn’t feel trust. And yet, they didn’t want to do to do more. So I fail to explain the the vision ahead and not set clear objectives to the people. So it was more a surviving node, rather than really working a working model. And also what failed there is that again, a manager would have told me, Look, what you’re doing is not correct. So I think to be as well, a leader, you need another leader or someone to, to lead you or to inspire you, and then you probably cascaded to other people. And this is what you went for it and it changed the day, I had another manager stepping in to basically opened my eye and gave me a couple of hints, tips and cetera. And some guidance also for sure. And I changed my, my approach also. And this was a relief for me. Because my personal life was better. And the work balance was better. And the people in the team as well felt also more valued for their work and more accountable, responsible for what they had to do. And they accepted therefore more, to have more responsibilities. So that was the the early days when I started managing people weren’t found when you

Andrej Zito 

talked about the trust, but have a question. Do you think that trust is something that needs to be gained over time? Or now after your years of experience? Do you automatically trust everyone that you start working with? And then eventually they can only let’s say lose your trust?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, it’s actually what I tell people. When I start on, when I take over my teams and working with people, that’s probably one of the first thing I’m saying is that by default, I trust people and then it’s up to them of course to to maintain it or, or to lose it. Of course. It’s not like a threat. It’s a fact to say, look, I would trust you. But don’t give me any reason not to do that. And, yeah, it worked to do to achieve that, of course. And this is more than that the general rule I have now, but it will depend also, because I’m not to name it. If I’m taking over a very junior team with people, I know that we need maybe more. The title management, or more to be more careful about what they’re doing, it may be a bit different, I would probably set some controls, not of course, micromanaging, but there’ll be probably more careful asking for the adequate reporting. Probably, yeah. Asking more, more questions about equal topics and be more more careful about couple of things, because then could be doomed to failure. But with globally speaking, yeah. When I have been working with people already, who are senior in their role, and unless have heard before from HR or their previous manager, or warnings, or I would trust people, by default. Yeah. It’s, I think it’s really about the character, and the personality of the people so not about when you say, we can get it over time, I don’t think that will change. Over time, people would remain as they are so bad, then I would also adjust if I see that doesn’t work. And I would be, of course, not losing full trust, but I will be more careful. But couple of topics are indicators and criteria, I would monitor differently.

Andrej Zito 

Alright. Now let’s talk about something more personal, maybe outside of localization? What are you curious about right now. And I mean, it can also be related to work if you want. What is something that keeps you I don’t know, up at night?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, related to technology, I’m not very, gonna be very move too much away from what we’ve been discussed. But I think artificial intelligence is really something that which I find very exciting. Not necessarily in our business, I see that in sciences, in culture, in art, everything, all the applications there under the medical field, it’s extremely promising. i And it’s we are in the middle of this revolution from it, it’s really a revolution. And it’s going to impact our lives, of course, with a lot of ethical topics. At stake, because we need some gatekeepers there, guys be some also some dangerous about privacy, privacy, or no copyright, and also about the accuracy and reliability of the data that can be generated can be extremely misleading. I guess you heard about the elucidations what we call the irritations of tissue intelligence. Well, it’s purely nonsense. I mean, it’s, it looks like something very elaborated, very, very clear. But if you’re, you know, the, the field of the domain, you realize that isn’t just only Yeah, it’s incorrect to be polite. What the model and algorithm is providing you with, so yeah, this is something we need to consider. In terms of interest, I like of course, traveling, it’s not very original, and visiting, I was visiting the us a couple of times, this year, I find it very, very, very beautiful. And I like all this nature, and the culture as well over there. So that wasn’t really different states and every state is typically specific. And I think it’s really country difficult to call it a country because it’s such a huge huge Can I say that? words in English but it’s like discovering a new word or whenever you you go there to a different state. And what else did you ask about? No one generally speaking, I’m very, I like reading literature and music, etc. I got a lot of topics to remain awake and to keep a balance, because this was also what you were asking me when working life, I would say or working, it’s not really working life because work is part of life, but the personal life and professional life. I also do a lot of sports on an activity in the boxer and I do a lot of this. That helps me keep my mind and the rest of physically as long as possible good shape. You are a boxer. Yeah, really not a professional boxer, but it doesn’t need hurt. No, no, it’s, you know, this, this sport has maybe bad reputation, or whatever. But when you do that, I mean, it’s less risky to do that people are already pretty much trained and with what I’ve been practicing, for many years, it’s everything is really controlled. And it’s not like a fight in the bar, you know, it’s, I guess he will not hurt you less hurt yourself, doing sparring or boxing training that doing other sports like skiing, or you know, even football to the soccer is more dangerous, you can really hurt yourself get injured much more seriously. In boxing your protections. It’s so and there is a lot of respect. No aggressivity. So yeah, it’s a good way to keep a balance. So with my wife and my kids, but my kids are not old enough with us to spend time with them doing going to a concert, for instance, or doing stuff so they get that that’s the way I balance it.

Andrej Zito 

Have you ever been in a fight? No.

Yann Le Boulch 

Because, you know, in, you know that when you practice boxing or any type of sport like that fighting spot, that it can be painful. And you you learn or to de escalate the situation, you see what I mean? Because either you defend yourself, but the best thing to do is really to avoid the troubles and not get into fight. Unless it’s something you have no choice. But if you have this in mind, you know that you will avoid it and you will not get into fights. That’s probably the best thing to do is to avoid it not throw, sometimes even running away when you because you don’t know what can happen in a fight. You don’t know what people have in their pocket. Now it can get really bad. Not like in movies. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s better to do that if you’re in need to sweat to do that in a in a club. It’s much, much more secure.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, the next question, I guess, what’s something people seem to misunderstand about you? I guess you told me you were a boxer. I wouldn’t have guessed that.

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, it’s, um, you know, of all, I try to be very pragmatic, and sometimes it’s seen as I don’t show emotion, or that I’m very distant. It’s something I’m trying to. It’s not that I don’t have emotion. Of course, I help but I don’t share it at work. Or, I mean, to very low extent, because, and I’ve seen that when they’re in our industry, we have a lot of pressure from clients or from other teammates, colleagues, managers and everywhere, but especially with with clients. So you need to as a manager, you need to be them there to come down people and to basically to take over their stress on so they can be in the best conditions at work and they don’t panicky should not add stress to stress situation or the auto stressing situation. So maybe this is why I don’t over react. I don’t overreact at work. I’m not you know, getting and shouting and these type of things and I know people because it’s their maybe their personality and they need to do that. But I don’t think as a manager It is advisable. So yeah, it could be considered as someone to one that doesn’t have that is not concerned about people’s emotions external, but it’s no, it’s the opposite. And whenever there is a need, and people who know me, and especially in my teams, they know they can come to me and ask, and they get support. I just, I just don’t overreact. So this is probably a misunderstanding. It’s difficult to, to see and, and to get into my mind sometimes, because I will not show the type of emotions. Yeah. It’s what I thought of when you I saw your your question, What misunderstanding? And besides, I may look maybe cold sometimes. But also like celebrating and having fun with with my team. So yeah, it’s probably something I prefer. expressing myself in positive situation, but when it’s more negative, and yeah, as I said, being even more panicked or in stress mode and the other people

Andrej Zito 

how do you like to celebrate with your team?

Yann Le Boulch 

Yeah, we go on out on the yacht have some, some drinks, or in a good restaurant and these type of things, or I mean, bringing us to do that, when we celebrate birthdays on these type of things, to bring some cake and, or to have people preparing cakes, and bringing something, something to drink and something we used to do what was possible with smaller teams, but bigger teams, it’s more the manager. The team, the team leaders who do that cannot be everywhere. In the other teams in Europe to celebrate with, yeah, when I visit people, they’re always like to invite the teams to dinners or lunch. It’s good to break the ice and, and talk directly with people in person has been a bit challenging over the last few years, but help it can happen again, know that we can travel legit, through the monitor of the computer. It’s a pity.

Andrej Zito 

And when the tourists question, what do you think is wrong with our industry?

Yann Le Boulch 

I think we briefly spoke about it before. But as I think I don’t have to defeat answer, otherwise, I should have brought some solutions. And I would make some money over there. But it’s yeah, it’s what I explained to you. It’s about pricing and the fact that translation is seen as a commodity or something, any type of normal, normal goods that you can, you can buy, negotiate with cetera. So I think this is the most damageable part of it. And I think the unlike interpreters who have been much more are much better organized. And were able to different, more their, their their rate, and the statues are the last decade. Translators tended to also to follow the the trend, translators and LSPs to get the prices down, just to follow them, the customers request and basically, we shoot into our foot. I don’t know, it’s English to say that, but we you know, we should be let into our foot. Do I say that? It makes sense. Because it’s never ending trend? I mean, it goes down down. I don’t know, if we were off or down. We’ll go with that one day, how much with a word be worth, or we used? Are we going to still pay by the word or I don’t know. So it’s probably what is not working there. So we need to find other services, something to bring value to what we can offer to our clients, like consulting or additional services, as I said, developing technology so we can compensate the lower rates with lower costs, but and being more efficient in the way we produce the translation. This these are problems that we have been facing for more than 10 years and are still there and I think this is going to speed up now with machine translation. and so on, there will be any more discounts expected by clients, of course, more volumes to translate. So yeah, need to probably to rely on technology to help us achieve that are maybe there are some niche? Did you know? Yeah, domains in that recently about companies specialized in patent translations, that where you can still make money over there or legal translations, licenses is also some domains that we were basically there, the clients still are earning lots of money and their their budget also accordingly. But otherwise, yeah, it’s a bit, it’s not really bright in terms of pricing in the manufacturing or industry fields. And there, we really need to produce massively with automated workflows, etc. As much as possible to be to be effective. But then it’s again, technology for sure and having different roles for project managers, because the workflows will be mostly automated with TMS and so on. And connection connectors between the CMS and the TMS. So the role of the project managers we become, for this type of projects. Different we need to we need to change that and probably being more consultant for the clients and providing suggestions or helping finding solutions to to produce the transmission of their content differently. It’s, it’s tricky, actually, to answer this question, because I guess, the Lionbridge or LW A’s or keywords exam, they would have contacted me and say, Oh, you have the solution to domain problems in our company. I think content management have always seen as a bright future because the more we will produce content in all the fields that the more we need to have this in multilingual content. So we need services. But how to produce for, you know, lower costs, and faster, etc. So yeah, again, it’s intelligence at shouldn’t agents and, and technology that will give us the solution? Yeah, that’s cool. I had in mind that it’s no, it was a headache. Yeah,

Andrej Zito 

no, I didn’t expect you to provide a solution. I think this question is mostly for people to sort of around and just say what is wrong, and maybe someone will listen, so come up with some solution.

Yann Le Boulch 

Ya know, what’s wrong? I don’t think we’re so wrong. I mean, we, it’s just per se, the, the core business, which is difficult, because it’s still an activity where we need, and thanks, God, we need, it’s the case. The human beings, so room beings really remain at the core of this business on this industry. But the work that is produced is not a commodity, it’s not something you can dispose off or like, you know, like, just dispenser, it’s not a word you translate, there’s intellectual process, there is someone you know, who is thinking and doing some researchers of terminology and to understand what he’s translating, etc. There is an effort and there is value there, how to reflect it, in the in the price on that we, we are selling our client, make it something acceptable on where? Yeah, so maybe we realize that the big companies, the discount organizations may not be the right model anymore. There’s been so many mergers and acquisitions over the last year. And now we have this huge companies with 1000s of people and with a lot of fixed costs, etc. Maybe it’s not the best model. Maybe we should come back to smaller companies with less people maybe but doing more added value for work and keeping key people only doing the processing in delivering it, you need people to run this large organization. These are costs. The more people you have, the more you need managers you need support teams, it HR, to director and this costs money and you cannot be in a position to to charge the client for this cost. That’s not the problem.

Andrej Zito 

All right, maybe let’s end this interview on a more positive note, if you could say your final words, you could speak to anyone in the industry, what would you tell them?

Yann Le Boulch 

Well, maybe I will repeat myself. But really, it’s the final words you said in your industry. So we see technologies real, evolving at a huge speed. And it’s a new era that is starting with artificial intelligence, not only in our industry, but but globally. So our jobs are going to evolve in the future in the wake of artificial intelligence. But there will still be a need for multilingual multiculturalism expert, so it’s the way I would call us in in the industry and so that we have we need to find our where we would stand in the in the in the new models in the new India industry, probably will probably be a place for everyone. And what we need to keep in mind again, it’s that human being to the humans need to, to remain at the core and the center of all the activities. This is I think, what’s what I will keep in mind for the future. Yeah, yeah, it’s exciting. We should not be afraid of that.

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