Navigating The Language Industry As A Woman In Localisation

Alpi Mantry

Table of Contents

Welcome to the fifth episode of The Translate By Humans Podcast: For Humans, By Humans. In this episode, we talk to Translate By Humans’ co-founder about her experience with managing localisation strategies for global companies, rising up as a woman entrepreneur and the future of the language industry, among other interesting topics. 

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the translate by humans podcast, where I talk to colleagues, linguists and experts about their lives, cultural experiences and professions. I am Shifa Miyaji, a content strategist and social media enthusiast, and I am going to take you on a journey through some amusing and inspiring personal stories.

In the last few episodes, we’ve had some fascinating conversations with industry experts and translators from around the globe; from the linguistic diversity in the Philippines to the basics of legal and financial translations and even smart content management tools – we’ve discussed it all. Don’t forget to check out our previous episodes and get inspired by our language experts.

Speaking of the language industry, today, we have a special guest on our podcast. A woman in localisation, she’s successfully helped internationalise 10,000+ brands across various industries. She’s the co-founder of Translate By Humans and has experience managing global translation projects for eight years.

Dear listeners, meet Alpi Mantry. We’re very excited to begin this podcast and gain valuable insights from her on project management, experiences with global clients, the localisation industry, and most importantly, her journey as a woman entrepreneur. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Hi Alpi. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Hi Shifa. Thank you for having me.

We'd love to hear all about your journey in the corporate world and how it led to the development of Translate By Humans.

I’ve been in this corporate world for 16 years and more now. I’m currently at the executive positions here in Translate By Humans. My key responsibility is to promote a culture of high performance. I work with project teams, operations teams, with clients, business development teams and sales teams.

I am basically a people person, and I enjoy talking to people. Now languages have always intrigued me. And I think while they’re very disparate, it’s all about conveying your thoughts in words.

So, after having worked in the tech industry and tasting the waters of almost all the continents, I have seen the challenges faced by these multinational firms. Communication is always a challenge.

I always wondered, how can we get the world to communicate seamlessly?
And this is where the idea of TBH was conceived. We started from a remote, cold bedroom, and now, pleasurably, TBH is a thriving language services provider with more than 10,000 trusted clients,

That's definitely inspiring. Isn't that also the tagline of Translate By Humans - 'We're making the world talk'?

hat’s very true. That’s where it comes from. So anywhere and everywhere, I would say, a company wants to go local, Translate By Humans is there to help.

That makes perfect sense. So we often hear about the downsides of being a woman in a male-dominated society. In the early days of building up Translate By Humans, did you face any challenges or critical decisions with respect to your personal and professional goals?

I must tell you, it’s never easy being a mom trying to juggle a full-time job with a family life. I’m often asked about how I can be a good mother as well as an executive.
I understand that the question’s well-intentioned, kind-hearted, but it sounds inherently sexist as well.
You know, as a mother, as a wife, I’ve had my struggles, and some of them, I even faced today. And, just to put them in a few words, they could be about managing the morning rush, leaving behind my unwell child just because I have to attend an important meeting, having to make difficult choices, whether I should attend a parent-teacher meeting or attend a public event.
There have been many-a-times when I’ve missed out on difficult milestones of my only son. And how can I forget the mommy guilt trips that I often get onto?

I'm sure many females in the corporate world might have faced these struggles.

Well, as we discussed, it’s, unfortunately true, but then, I guess it’s getting better.

When you go through these times, how do you find the strength to power through?

I take my strength from other female leaders around, within my industry, outside my industry. Two names that I really adore are Sara Blakely – who’s the founder of Spanx, and Jacinda Arden – the very loved prime minister of New Zealand. They really inspire me in the way that they have taken up executive roles very successfully. I’ve also been part of quite a few women-led organisations. I follow them for networking – some names include GALA, Women In Localization, CITLoB.
It’s motivating to see these women and how they have overcome many challenges related to female bias and hustling harder to break the glass ceiling. Interestingly, many of them are also helping others break through the barriers. So it definitely helps me network with these like-minded females.
And that’s extremely important in the translation and localisation industry as well.
Well, I think, other than the professional experiences and meeting brilliant leaders as I’ve grown, I definitely consider my family as one of my biggest strengths, and my husband, who’s been really there for me – he’s been my rock!
We are husband and wife, and professionally, we work together as leaders as well. We try – it’s not always possible, I would be honest – but we try to keep our professional and personal lives separate.

That's really important, I believe. So being a leader, how do you motivate your employees to give their very best?

It’s always a heart-based culture here. It’s always a very dynamic environment. The question that I ask my teams often is, ‘do you love what you’re doing?’, because I believe that people perform best when they feel good about themselves and the work they do. I focus on creating a work culture that is quite loose yet creative, quite open, but still strong. And that’s the culture where I believe that each one of us can thrive.

We can see that many things have changed, and the work culture has been completely revolutionised in the last two years. So how do you ensure that your company keeps up with the changing work culture?

I agree, Shifa. You’re very right there because COVID has changed a lot of perspectives. Translate By Humans has always kept its promise, and we have stood by the team during the dark days of COVID and even now. Our key focus has been the safety of our colleagues; vaccination has been mandatory, and all of our employees have been vaccinated to date. Being part of the management, as you would assume, I’ve also had to make quite a few changes in our work culture.
Now, we have all adopted a hybrid model. Some days we are at the office – working from there, and the other days – we are working from home. So teams have the choice of choosing what they prefer doing.

That sounds interesting. So what's your working style? What leadership traits would you say resonate with you the most?

My style of leadership is not very traditional. I mean, I can’t put it in just one particular bucket. I think I’m a transactional as well as an interactive leader. More so, because I’m a woman, I focus on how individual interests fit into the product goals and vision of the company.
I encourage participation, and many of the times, to be honest, when I’m in a difficult situation, I ask my teams – ‘what would you do if you were in my situation?’. Now, this not only gives me great ideas sometimes. It exposes my teams to the complexity of management decisions. They understand what it is to be in my shoes. And sometimes, when the time is short, and participation is not feasible, I don’t have a choice but to take the bull by the horns.

I'm sure we all can take some pointers here. So when it comes to building and maintaining good, authentic relationships with the translators, interpreters, and the other linguists that Translate By Humans works with, how do you ensure that they are completely satisfied and do not face any troubles whatsoever?

Shifa, our resources are our wealth.
We talk to them. We listen to them. We stand by them. So in one word – we communicate, and that’s what we love.

I'm sure they already appreciate and reciprocate it. Focusing on India, we can see a lot of opportunities for the translation and localisation industry in the coming years.

That’s right. Yes.
So I recently heard someone say that the Asian century has begun, and I think, as the Asian economies integrate, we can fuel and shape the next phase of globalisation.
When we talk about India, India will be the global growth engine for various industries. After having saturated the markets in the tier one cities of India, the businesses are already looking at tier two and tier three cities for an untapped market.
Why? Because the consumer power in India is growing, and the internet is penetrating the remotest corners. And that’s interesting because most states have limited language support as a major challenge for accessing various online apps and sites. So that is the ice that we need to break. And that is the level of localisation that we want to reach to.

That sounds great. So have you noticed any difference in the language aspect in India from the rest of the world?

A consumer in India is more likely to buy a product or a service when communicated in his or her native language.
It’s also been found that, you know, Indian users prefer to download or buy apps localised in their language.
And by 2025, it’s predicted that the number of Indian language internauts – as they call them, will be more than thrice compared to the English language internet users. And that is about 75% of India’s internet users. I would say that it’s a myth to believe that English will be all-pervasive, or even Hindi will help you communicate with your target customers in India. So, the concept of globalisation, or I would say localisation, is something that is going to be the key industry within the Indian market.

Well, the future does sound promising. I'm sure many multinational companies will realise the importance of localising for the Asian markets.

So I think, when we discuss it amongst ourselves and with some of the leaders in the translation and localisation industry, we believe that in India, we would have to move away from being a high-touch concierge-type industry to a low-touch volume industry where we can portray the returns to the people who opt for localising their products, services, applications, or any other web content.

So, is there any way to overcome this challenge?

So I think, when we discuss it amongst ourselves and with some of the leaders in the translation and localisation industry, we believe that in India, we would have to move away from being a high-touch concierge-type industry to a low-touch volume industry where we can portray the returns to the people who opt for localising their products, services, applications, or any other web content.

That's a great way to go and definitely a very useful tip. Where do you see Translate By Humans in the next few years?

So, you know, Shifa, with the cascading global lockdowns that we have seen the past year, this year, we have all realised the importance of the digital-first universe. And I think, while not all of us were ready, but we have all adopted to hybrid cultures- in work at home and everywhere around us. So what I understand is that to be effectual, localisation cannot be just about words. It should incorporate meaning, it should incorporate comprehension and emotion, and the key drivers that motivate consumers to act. So in 2021, even more businesses have moved to the digital-first approach post the COVID era.
As a result, the localisation industry will be able to take its rightful place at the strategic table. And that is where I want to take Translate By Humans so that we can become the key component of every company’s multi-channel experience across the globe.

That's a great approach. So do you feel that Translate By Humans is ready to embrace digitalisation globally?

Definitely. We have already started implementing quite a few changes that include understanding users’ requirements and their perspectives, and we have started using that learning to help our clients accelerate their international growth.
I want Translate By Humans to be the go-to name for all humans language translation services, whether it’s in India, Europe, Australia, or the United States. We want to be the top five LSPs in the global market in the coming few years.

We love your optimism and futuristic approach. Well, it seems impossible to talk to you and not get inspired by your enthusiasm.

I’m glad this is helpful.

So, Alpi, it's been wonderful talking to you. Now, before we end this podcast, we'd like to ask you one last question. It's something that we ask all the experts that we interview. What advice would you like to give to all the women stepping into the localisation industry?

My advice for women would be – let’s not limit ourselves because we are women.
Sometimes, we just victimise ourselves unnecessarily, and that’s why we don’t succeed. So that’s the first one. And then a few more specifically around the localisation industry would be that you should be careful who we partner with.
You should work smart, not necessarily hard. You should dare to take risks, and most times, trust me, your gut is right. And the last one would be to get out of your comfort zone. There’s a wonderful world out there.

That's some golden words right there. Thank you so much for joining us, Alpi,

Thank you, Shifa. It’s been interesting to speak to you.

Thank you to our listeners for tuning in. We'll be back soon with another interesting episode with a new expert from the language industry. Do subscribe to our podcast so you know when we release our next episode. See you soon.

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. A former student of Mass Media and Corporate Communication, she conducts intensive research for her blogs and articles and keeps tab on all developments in the language industry to curate interesting & trending content for all our social media platforms. Learning about new languages, cultures and cuisines excites her and when she isn't engrossed in the newest fictional hardback, she can be found fantasizing about her next solo trip.
Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji

Shifa Miyaji is a Content Writer at Translate By Humans. A former student of Mass Media and Corporate Communication, she conducts intensive research for her blogs and articles and keeps tab on all developments in the language industry to curate interesting & trending content for all our social media platforms. Learning about new languages, cultures and cuisines excites her and when she isn't engrossed in the newest fictional hardback, she can be found fantasizing about her next solo trip.
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