Global Career Roadmap: The Importance of a Personal Vision
Localization is an industry made up of people with diverse experiences, skill sets, and aspirations. Lahcene Guerrouj has a vision that stands out in a way that is above and beyond and that is unique in the industry. His career has evolved from a focus on global content creation to transforming content strategy to better reach global audiences.
Lahcene’s early experience was working with Dell as an EMEA Content Producer. Having grown up in France, managing content for the EMEA market at Dell was a natural early career experience. Lahcene noticed that while some of the content he and his team produced could be developed internally, when volumes reached a certain level, it was necessary to work with outside partners and language service providers. This early experience taught him about the limitations there are on planning and creating global content and the nuances of working with diverse content stakeholders, including LSPs, in-market field marketers, and the web production team he was managing.
His vision was to transform LSPs into true global partners. Seeds were planted in Paris, grown and matured when he moved to London. Indeed, while there were many (EMEA) regionally-focused opportunities, there was more potential to work with a broader global audience outside of France. He left Paris and moved to London to find additional opportunities to work with broader international markets and strategy. There he took on his next role working with LexisNexis as an EMEA Content Product Manager, looking at how content was delivered to their international customers. He helped revamp operations and modernize the entire operation to make content more meaningful, focusing first on the priorities and later normalizing and documenting clear requirements which had been difficult to nail down. He became the lead for EMEA and spearheaded the addition of non-Latin languages (Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew). Lahcene enjoyed collaborating with counterparts in the US, Europe, Middle-East, Africa, Asia and Pacific to develop larger scale, platform-wide functional changes to maintain leadership position within the industry.
After LexisNexis, Lahcene joined Skype. From an international perspective, he found working at Skype much more challenging because of the larger number of languages, which was 32 at the time. He had also noticed that Skype was attempting to reach customers on a more personal level and was excited that the content was directed toward consumers. Skype had aspired to adapt content to truly engage consumer users. They used technology to ensure a consistent international experience for consumers by aligning the geography of their IP address to set the language, which was innovative at that time. After Skype was purchased by Microsoft and was then part of a larger entity, creating and managing global content was much more complicated from an operational perspective. Adding a single language to the product had ripple effects throughout the entire organization because languages had to be aligned across certain products. After the Skype team decided to add Hindi and had worked with engineering and got everything worked out, it was clear that Hindi would need to be added to the entire Microsoft ecosystem before it could launch on Skype.com. While Lahcene enjoyed the challenge of working with more languages and more complex operational processes, he felt that his contributions would be more valuable focusing on the strategy side. In a more strategic role, he helped spearhead the move from one CMS to another, rationalized content by consumer need, reduced content by over 50% and moved to another platform that was easier to manage both English and international content. Later some of these processes were adopted by other marketing divisions in Microsoft. He recognized the value in enlisting global digital content teams to build and maintain world class content across Skype and other Microsoft marketing channels. His vision was directed to better engage with end users as well as support a variety of business objectives such as enabling product launches, landing marketing campaigns, supporting optimisation efforts and SEO. Lahcene’s experience at Skype and Microsoft both expanded and clarified his vision for managing international experiences.
Lahcene says: “A content strategy is not complete without effectively managing the end-to-end content operations and consumer experiences. If you have great content but your audiences cannot consume it at the right time and in the right format, then your content effectively does not exist for them.”
Over his career, Lahcene has focused on setting up marketing groups in their local regions creating fantastic experiences for their customers, while having central marketing management on teams located in the headquarters. He believes there needs to be an international hub with employees who support global content, but their role should be different from a localizer in that they get to help decide what content gets pushed out, how and when. He noticed that there was a lot more content that was being localized that was not useful to the markets because it was either outdated or US-focused, and therefore not meeting the needs of the regional audiences. After spending a short time at Juniper Networks focusing on EMEA Content marketing, he rapidly joined Salesforce where he is still today. Ideally, for him, the Content Team and Localization team should be part of the same organisation. The localization team should take part in the editorial board meeting. We need to leverage inputs and experience from the localization team who can identify the challenges right early enough when we produce the content. This is the dream team! Lahcene championed autonomy in markets to produce their own local content. Since competition is high and capturing attention is difficult, he believes the jobs of marketers is to enable the sales teams in their home countries through local PR, local social media and local marketing campaigns whenever possible. When it comes to product marketing, if content is created in the US, focus more on educating the audience on your product and localize that centrally to make the process more streamlined. Now at Salesforce, he aspires to make this vision a reality.
What can we learn from Lahcene’s experiences? We can learn that a career is an evolution. Experiences lead to other experiences through which we can create a vision. Keep moving and evolving in order to execute on this vision.