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My favorite spot in Buenos Aires, Argentina: The University of Buenos Aires School of Law and the Floralis Genérica sculpture

Embracing Empathetic Leadership

My Unexpected Career Path Within the Language Industry

By Pamela Parra

I

discovered my love for languages at an early age. When I was 13 years old living in Brazil, my best friend’s father — who knew I was born in Venezuela — asked me to help him translate a microphone catalog into Spanish. From then on, I was hooked on translation.

Fast forward to 2012, and I graduated from the Central University of Venezuela, officially becoming an English- and Portuguese-to-Spanish translator and interpreter. I walked out of the ceremony thinking the rest of my life would be me and my laptop taking on the world, one technical translation project at a time.

But the future had other plans in store. You see, a college education will provide the theory, but it doesn’t quite capture how vast, intriguing, and exceptional the world of localization truly is. Nor the endless job opportunities it brings to the table!

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In 2013, I accepted a job with Ushuaia Solutions, an Argentinian language service provider. There, a great team of female professionals mentored me and helped me explore various aspects of the organization. After a few years of language work, I discovered the fantastic and challenging universe of project management.

Project managers (PMs) have the privilege of glimpsing behind the scenes of the industry, and that’s something I found — and still find — fascinating. Initially, I thought that managing projects was the career path I wanted. It didn’t take long for me to realize that PMs are essentially people managers. But how does a translator transition into the communications-based world of a people manager?

When I stepped into my first leadership role, I quickly learned the importance of soft skills such as emotional management, assertive communication, negotiation, and empathy. After some years in the role, I’ve concluded that a good leader teaches by example, knows how to manage their own emotions, and understands that each person has a unique work style; just because someone works at a different rhythm than you doesn’t mean they are a poor performer.

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I’ve learned that leadership styles change over time. I’m proud to come from a family of female leaders, but they represent a different kind of leadership. My mother, aunts, and grandmothers belong to one of the first generations of women to enter the labor market. They had to commit their lives to work to make a mark, and they had to earn the title of “boss” to command their peers’ respect.

In contrast, my generation has a distinct perspective on work that prioritizes personal life and embraces remote work. I encounter different challenges than the ones my family members had to face. I manage teams in an industry that moves forward rapidly and undergoes constant change. And I work with a generation that no longer perceives working many years for the same company as the ultimate measure of success.

I feel privileged to be a leader in this era of history and to manage people from many cultures and places. Through my work as a PM, I’ve discovered not only the type of leader I am, but also — and more importantly — the type of leader I aspire to become. I’m grateful for the women who have been my mentors and have given me the chance to find my true passion within the language industry.

Pamela Parra is operations manager at Ushuaia Solutions. She has more than 13 years of experience in the localization industry and has worked as a translator, reviewer, QA specialist, and project manager. She is a member of Women in Localization. When not working, she is taking her 11-year-old to skating lessons or planning trips to exciting new places.

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(Brooklyn, NY) – Eriksen Translations Inc., a leading Language Services Provider, today announced the promotion of Kevin Hudson to Executive Vice President, Client Services. Hudson…

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