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Interview with Nancy Matis

Moi-250Our school is growing fast, welcoming not only new students, but also teachers from all parts of the world. We are happy to welcome Nancy Matis as part of our international team. Nancy is the author of the book “How to manage your translation projects”, she currently manages her own translation company based in Belgium and teaches at four universities. Together with Nancy, we are now announcing her new course in translation project management. Just a couple days ago Olga Arakelyan took an interview with Nancy so you could find out more about her. Here it is.

1. Olga: Hi Nancy! Could you share some fun/weird facts about you? It can be anything from having 4 kids to climbing Everest in your free time 🙂
Nancy: I’ve never been great at sport. No time for it and, I have to admit, not really fond of it either. But I’ve just started to take tennis lessons. I have two small kids, 3 and 5 years old. Both of them have started tennis and their father, who used to play a long time ago, recently decided to take it up again. I suddenly had this vision of my two kids playing tennis with their father while I was sitting on a bench watching them having a good time. So I decided to register for beginner courses. I started three months ago and I actually enjoy it!!! I’ll never be a top player, but I’m so happy now to imagine that the four of us will be able to play matches together! 😉

2. Olga: You have tried different roles in the translation industry, working as a translator, reviser, project manager, teacher, etc. Am I right in thinking that project management is your favourite role? Why?
Nancy: I really enjoy managing translation projects, it’s true. Working for different clients on various kinds of projects means that you keep learning new things, new processes and, of course, you continuously face new challenges. I really like this, honestly, even though I don’t actually manage the projects myself most of the time as instead I supervise the work of my project manager team. But I appreciate the other tasks too.
I don’t have many opportunities to translate these days. I only do it for non-profit organisations once in a while, and it’s really thrilling! The subjects I have to deal with are often linked to development and the stylistic level is usually rather high. In another life, I would have loved to be a literary translator. When I’m polishing those articles, I feel that’s what I’m doing for a short while ;-).
I also enjoy revising texts. Generally, I revise the same translators and I always cherish the moments when I look at their translations and wonder how they could find such a nice way to translate something that I thought was so complicated in the source language.
Lastly, although I started teaching by chance, this is one of the most enriching aspects of my career. It obviously pushes me to keep in touch with newcomers in our industry. And it also constantly forces me to keep up-to-date with new technologies and trends and to understand how other companies operate so I can offer trainees a wide range of examples and ways of working.

app-1013616_6403. Olga: Is there a translation project that you remember most? Can you tell us about it?
Nancy: It’s quite difficult to pick just one example as I remember many projects with different types of challenges AND issues! 😉 If I had to mention only one, it would probably be my first software localisation project, more than 20 years ago, when I entered the translation market.
After three months spent revising economic documents, the translation company which had hired me asked me to work on the localisation of Microsoft PowerPoint into French. Naturally, I was extremely interested, but I didn’t have a clue about software localisation at that time. I even have to admit that when I had started three months earlier, I had never handled a mouse… and never used any software programs running on a Windows platform LOL. This project was an incredible start in the localisation world. And I loved it. It was very stressful since I had to learn everything from scratch, but so fascinating!
My manager gave me the opportunity to work on ALL aspects of the project. I translated part of the user interface. Then, I revised the help files and the documentation. I was taught how to do some desktop publishing and mock-up illustrations. I was then involved in the testing phase of the French software. And, at the end, our little team of four ended up spending a full month at Microsoft, in Dublin, to finalise the product. No other project could have been better to learn all the ropes of software localisation! 😉

4. Olga: What do you think is the future of project managers in the translation industry?
I think that diversification is important. Project managers should be able to supervise any kind of project linked to the translation industry and not simply document translation. The more they master new technologies, know how to deal with software, website and multimedia localisation, grasp the specificities of SEO localisation and the like, the more they will be able to respond to any client request and ensure their own professional development.
I also think project managers shouldn’t worry about working as freelancers as this could also give them an opportunity to collaborate with clients OR translation agencies worldwide and to broaden the types of projects they manage. This perspective should also encourage more freelance translators to extend their own management capacities and to take on larger projects, involving several participants, different production tasks and various target languages in addition to their own usual translation projects.

5. Olga: What would be your top 5 tips for start-up PMs?

– Be very well organised
– Enjoy learning new things
– Communicate with all project stakeholders in an efficient, polite and friendly manner
– Always remember that project analysis is the first key step of a successful project
– Have fun when managing translation projects

Olga: Nancy, thank you so much for taking your time to reply to all my questions! You are fantastic! I am looking forward to your course in Project Management.

We are happy to invite all our readers to take part in the Translation Project Management course by Nancy Matis. You can learn more about it on this page. And if you have any questions, you can always contact us at info@translator-school.com

Date of publication: Tuesday May 17th, 2016

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