Go Global: Silvia Campos Manages Global Services

By Anna Schlegel

Silvia Campos is an International Web Manager at VeriSign, a company that delivers intelligent infrastructure services. A native of Brazil who has been living in the Bay Area for the past eight years, she has more than five years of experience in the localization industry: as a translator, as a project manager for a translation agency, and now on the client side with VeriSign. Silvia is fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and she is now learning French. She has a master’s degree in business from San Francisco State University.

What are the responsibilities of an “International Web Manager”?
SILVIA CAMPOS: My job is to manage the ongoing maintenance and production of content for our international websites as well as translations, vendor and stakeholder relationships, and in-house reviews. I work with cross-functional teams (content partners, design, legal, developers, engineers, and QA) to implement site changes across our websites. When working with the different teams I need to ensure that the site gets built according to specification, on time, and on budget. I am also responsible for analyzing site traffic and data, evaluating user surveys, and participating in user testing. Finally, I need to make sure that we integrate the corporate brand strategy on the international sites through both visual and messaging.

Where does your passion for languages come from?
I always liked languages, but I guess it really started when I moved to the U.S. in 1997. I was living in a hotel for international students, a type of residence common in San Francisco. There, I met people from all over the world and thus was exposed to numerous languages and cultures. I was fascinated by them: all the differences and the common ways of life of my fellow international friends. Learning languages, visiting countries, and experiencing the different cultures became my passion.

How did you get your start in the translation business?
I started teaching Portuguese to Americans and doing occasional translations. These became more frequent and more complex, and because of my medical background I began doing a lot of medical translations. I was also doing voiceover work and interpretation. I landed a job at a dotcom company as a full-time translator, but later my responsibilities increased and I became the localization project manager.

Please describe your ideal translator and localization manager.
My ideal translator is reliable, available, flexible, and up to date on current issues. He or she is passionate about languages and cultures and is a native speaker of the target language. The ideal project manager is always on top of things, is detail oriented, has great interpersonal skills, and is pleasant to work with. Additionally, he or she is fluent in at least two languages.

Do you find that language – and language professionals – are becoming more important and visible in U.S. Companies?
Absolutely. As the Internet became popular over the past decade, local companies in many countries started to create their own sites offering products and services in the local language. This gave them an edge over U.S. companies; they had broken the language barrier. But as American companies began to see the need for localized sites, the importance of language professionals in this country grew drastically. Today, we know that a U.S. company wishing to succeed in other cultures must offer its products and services – as well as its website – in the target country’s language.

How does English influence other language localization?
The high-technology industry and the Internet are relatively new, so many of the terms pertaining to these fields were created in the U.S. and never translated, making the English language pretty common in a lot of the localized materials. In addition, a lot of times companies don’t translate product and service names because of corporate branding policies that dictate that names must remain the same; sometimes they even keep acronyms that don’t mean anything in a foreign language.

What are the major challenges facing corporations today?
Companies face challenges at all levels: from the day-to-day management of localization requests to the coordination of strategic localization initiatives. These days, it is no longer acceptable to offer older versions of products in foreign markets; the Internet-connected buyer is well informed and wants the latest version of products that are being sold in the company’s home market. Because of that, companies now must keep up with the demand for accurate and up-to-date information in all the markets in which they offer products – a huge and expensive effort. Conversely, in order to be competitive in foreign markets, companies need to reduce their globalization costs, but without affecting the quality of their localized content. It is a delicate balancing act.

What was the most difficult translation challenge you’ve faced in your own work?
It was probably when I first started as a translator. I had to localize a collection of children’s books to Brazilian Portuguese, and I was given a very tight deadline. There were a lot of words not found in the dictionaries, words that only children and parents know about. For a starter, it was a tough one.

What you are reading now about the localization field?
I’m reading Business Without Borders by Donald A. DePalma.

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