Trust Me, I’m a Project Manager

welocalize April 24, 2018

The Evolving Role of the Localization Project Manager

Strong project managers (PMs) form the foundation of many long-standing localization partnerships with global brands for so many reasons. It’s a role in the language industry that has evolved, where each PM is now seen as a strategic business partner, rather than a file-pusher, identifying opportunities to create efficiencies and preventing issues rather reactive problem resolution.

Project Managers must be strategic business partners, rather than process followers. A talented PM focuses on enabling business outcomes and proactively seeks solutions. Click To Tweet

PMs are often the day-to-day contact for clients. Juggling multiple clients across time-zones, they are the go-to people for vendors and technical suppliers when queries, issues, and escalations occur.

Finding the right talent for PM teams is an important part of any lasting relationship in global business and an integral part of the onboarding stage. We have strong links to academic institutions across the globe to make sure we recruit PMs that have the latest skills and are a match for the Welocalize culture and client portfolio.

Our PM talent comes from top colleges across the globe including Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in the U.S., Beijing Normal University in China, Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.

To fully service an international brand at all stops on the global business journey, the PM ensures the right talent and tools are aligned to different content types. From foreign filing and patent translation at the research and development stage, through to managing digital go-to-market strategies that require multilingual SEO and complex AdWords campaigns, a project manager must be nimble to navigate complexity. The PM is like an orchestra maestro, leading a diverse team of translators, linguists, third-party reviewers, testing engineers, DTP operatives, translation automation developers, digital marketers and multimedia specialists. The result is a symphony of multilingual content that engages a global audience.


The foundational characteristics of a PM remain the same: meticulously organized, technologically adept, systems focused, and efficiency driven. We quite simply have grown and adapted with the evolving responsibilities every day. As the needs of clients and global brands broaden in scope and complexity, talented individuals are excited by the opportunity to take a more proactive and wider role.


To embrace a more strategic role, continuous training is crucial for PMs. In addition to standard training on tools and methodologies, it is important to keep abreast of emerging translation and localization innovations such as neural machine translation (NMT). We are now also more plugged into our clients’ training programs. Many team members attend client product presentations and retail store immersion training to ensure they fully understand the product, the brand, and the experience that the client is looking to deliver. To create and develop the right local experience, you have to experience it yourself.

Communication and engagement is key to maintaining a successful partnership. Continually engaging with clients is so important and the project manager role has the advantage of day-to-day contact. From face-to-face client visits, a quick phone call or video Skype to updating a customer on the status of a project or addressing an escalation or rapid response call, the project management team spends so much time in contact with the client. You can’t help but build up a close relationship. You do share personal information and over the years, we’ve sent out several new baby and wedding congratulation cards!

Project management is no longer a role focused purely on pushing files and systems, but rather on managing teams of people and encouraging open communication. Establishing a trusting and lasting partnership ultimately supports strategic goals and the localization project manager is now an established key player.


Based in Chester, England, Rachel Barakat is Enterprise Program Manager at Welocalize.

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