The art of solutions
Supported by RWS
One of the largest language companies in the world, RWS prides itself on being able to help its clients meet their business objectives, no matter where they are on their localization journey. A big part of that service experience comes from the leadership and guidance of Amanda Newton, who has spent the last several months settling into a new role with the company’s Strategic Solutions Group (SSG), the team that provide language services to the mainstream commercial market.
It’s a step change for an individual who has worked over two decades for RWS. But it’s also a reflection of who Newton is as a professional — someone who is fascinated by every dimension of language work. As she looks toward the future with an eye for innovation, she is reflective of the road she’s traveled thus far and excited for what the coming years hold.
In June of last year, you were promoted to lead RWS’ Strategic Solutions Group as executive vice president. Could you explain a little of what you do in your new role? What is SSG’s purpose? How have you settled into it?
I was very pleased to be given the role of leading the Strategic Solutions Group, and our mission within RWS is to really promote tech enabled services for our customers. So we operate within the traditional language services space. We work with our customers to use technology in the best possible way to automate their processes and allow them to benefit from more cost-effective solutions. We also look to see how we can collaborate and innovate with them in that tech-enabled space, and allow them to deliver their content in any language.
So you bring that personal touch to help them find the business solutions they might not be aware of?
Exactly. That personal touch can work wonders. You hear about AI and machine translation and automation, but we really do underpin that with a lot of human skills and expertise. It’s important that our ‘sales,’ project and account managers are able to guide their customers on their journey and through the different localization challenges that they’re facing.
You develop propositions and solutions that give clients flexibility, regardless of language needs or device platforms. What are some approaches and strategies to furthering RWS’ device-agnostic approach to language service? Are there specific examples you can share, and what value does this bring to your clients?
We do invest a lot of time in our ‘sales,’ project and account management teams — getting to know the customers and understanding their needs. But also we want to understand and predict what those needs will be in the future. So we do a lot of what we call pioneering in that space. We like to pioneer with our customers and go on that journey together.
One of our differentiators is that we have a large in-house translation team. We have translators based all around the world, and they provide a huge difference in understanding and managing cultural differences and nuances, as well as the more obvious language needs. That helps us to advise our customers on the wider aspects of operating as a truly global company. Especially as the amount of content continues to grow at an enormous rate and as we all live in a more connected and automated world with personalized content on the many devices that we touch daily.
Another element that attracts clients to RWS is its scalability and Go Global approach. Could you elaborate on how you achieve this?
What’s key for us is to be very close to our customers. We are a really global team of ‘sales,’ project and account managers and translators. So it’s important that we’re close to the customer and understand their needs in whatever country, language or market they operate in at the time. What we might be facing from our customers in Germany might be different to what we’re facing for our customers in the US.
We don’t want them to think, “Oh, RWS is a huge company. They won’t have space for us in our world and where we are in our journey now.” That’s why we have that global team who are experts in supporting those customers who are either starting out or scaling up. The tech-enabled solutions that our teams bring to the table allow those customers to grow and scale very quickly.
Marketing and elearning teams also assist in keeping pace with the rapidly changing world in which we find ourselves. Could you explain how these teams assist clients?
They’re both spaces that are changing quickly and for different reasons. If we think of our marketing and creative production team, they are working on customer content that’s highly visible. It’s the first thing consumers of our customers will see, so it’s the content that they really want to invest in in getting right.
That’s also where we focus for our elearning services, where the content is also high-value in nature. We can offer advice about what works in each country and in each market. What might work in Spanish for Spain won’t work in Spanish in Argentina or Mexico. So it’s about being able to give that consultancy and that support in a variety of global markets. Ensuring that our clients highly valuable content is properly adapted and localized, so that it resonates with their own customers and allows them to deliver results.
Let’s switch gears a bit. Can you tell us a little about your background? How did you get interested in this line of work, and what brought you to RWS?
It’s been a journey of language. All my life, since I was very young, I used to go to Spain with my family. And from the moment I landed in Spain, I wanted to be able to speak Spanish and understand what the people were saying and to talk with them in their own language. So from about age 5 or 6, I can remember just being obsessed with wanting to learn Spanish.
Secondary school allowed me to learn Spanish, and gave me the impetus to continue — and to add Portuguese. Part of that journey was also spent a year abroad, so I went to Argentina and spent a year living and studying there. Then when I started work as a translator after graduating, I moved to Mexico City and lived there for about eight years, translating from Spanish to English in the finance and legal space. And I just loved working in this industry. I moved on from translation when I came back to the UK and started in project management at that point, but my whole working life has been in the language industry.
In a way, your depth of experience matches that of RWS, one of the biggest and most established businesses in the industry. What attracted you to the company?
Well, I’ve been with the company for 23 years now. It opened up a different world to me and moved me from having a translator’s mindset to wanting to be more involved in processes, technology, and innovation. I really wanted to be part of the evolution of the localization industry that was being brought about by using technology to support the traditional approaches used in the language industry.
As you look to the future, what are some of the biggest priorities for your team and the company as a whole?
My biggest priority is being prepared for the future. What is the future going to bring in? And we’re talking to our customers about this and where they see their content going in the short, medium, and long term. And, you know, there’s a lot of change going on at the moment. Especially with the innovation around ChatGPT and everything that that will bring.
It’s about being really excited about the future and how this could change our industry. Change the way we work. But really, it’s about how we adapt with that change. That’s going to make it an exciting time. So really looking at how we can be innovating for the next five years in the company is something that I’m really heavily focused on at the moment.
RWS prides itself on the quality of its people. Can you tell me a bit about your team and how you’ve formed working relationships with them over the past half year?
I inherited a new team with SSG, where some had worked here a long time, some a short time, and some were brand new. We’ve worked hard to bring different cultures and ideas from different parts of the business together to create our own identity, and you know, I think we are truly effective multicultural operations.
I’m proud to lead a very high-performing team, with people from very different backgrounds: people from a languages background, or a scientific background, an editorial background, a development background, or a business background. It’s great to work with such a broad spectrum of skills, talent, and perspectives.
Before I let you go, is there anything you’d like to add?
I think the only thing I’d add is that we expected Covid would bring huge difficulties and challenges to the language industry. But, in fact, we saw probably the opposite. We’ve been able to grow and develop during the pandemic, even with the challenges of not being able to see and meet our customers or our own teams face to face.
Now the world’s opening up. We are really valuing the return to having face-to-face time, and it’s great. Getting out there on the road meeting our teams — including some people who we’ve never had the chance to meet face to face — or old colleagues, who we’ve been with for a long time, but we’ve not been able to catch up with.
I’ve traveled quite a lot recently. I was out in Japan not so long ago, meeting the team in Asia Pacific. And, you know, I think in our industry, despite being able to survive and cope well during Covid, the ability now to get back out there and meet and see people all over the world is something that we’ve all really needed and wanted. We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.
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