Global Career Roadmap: Learning From Connections

Mara Martins got into the localization industry right out of college. Her first job, in her hometown of Fatima, Portugal, selling wine and working in restaurants, provided her with exposure to many languages. Amazed by the diversity, she knew she wanted to work around people from different cultures. She imagined being a tour guide, showing people around and getting to travel herself, while doing translation on the side. She tried out her dream job working as a tour guide during the summer but quickly realized life on the road wasn’t for her and decided to pursue translation and interpretation full-time.

Like many, Mara was able to get her first experience as a translator/interpreter at the European Union where she had a linguistic internship. She loved the personal connection she could get with interpreting and enjoyed translating as well so she decided to go into this field after college. Her first full-time job after college was at Sony. This was a technology company and completely different from her other role working in government.  What she enjoyed at Sony was working for a company that made people’s lives easier around the world through using technology. For Mara, the connection to people through technology and innovation is a very important aspect of her career. After 3 years at Sony, she started working at Hogarth Worldwide, a localization service provider and later for Apple as a Localization Project Manager. Mara ultimately moved on to work at Microsoft, managing localization for, one of the top fifty websites visited in the world. Her most recent role is as Senior Localization Marketing Manager at LinkedIn.

Through her experiences, Mara realized that using technology and innovative ideas are essential to getting her job done. For her, innovative idea can come from a multitude of sources. Working on both the vendor and client sides provides hands-on experiences in managing projects and teams. She says that working on the vendor side of localization is the best way to learn about the business because you get an idea of how different companies manage their localization programs and are in a position to try new technologies or innovative workflows. On the other hand, Mara explained that her work on the client side afforded her the opportunity to get deeper into a single program and make incremental changes like changing the way that work is managed through vendors and how global stakeholders are engaged. She says “that the way vendors and clients work together has transformed from the old model where vendors would push a single workflow out to all their clients to a current model where vendors tailor a solution to each client’s unique needs.” She likes that there is a closer connection between vendors and clients and that there is more experimentation.

Aside from gaining knowledge through personal experiences, Mara supports collaborating with others in the industry to learn about new technologies and innovative localization strategies. When she has a new idea or challenge, she taps her network to discuss what has worked for them. They collaborate on innovative practices, reporting analytics and technologies that are working for them. This way, the community of localizers can stay up to date on the newest ideas and practices. Mara says she does this one-on-one or in a group call to get more opportunities for cross-pollination.

What advice does she have for people looking to get into the industry or to develop their careers? She recommends talking to as many people as possible and ask questions about their experiences. Doing research on technologies, reading about best practices in industry magazines and blogs and attending conferences are all excellent ways to learn and create personal connections.