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A 100% Localisation Win-Win With Cristina From Meta

A 100% Localisation Win-Win With Cristina From Meta

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Our Guest
Cristina Trivino Castillo
Cristina Trivino Castillo
Localization Program Manager, Meta
Our Host
host image
Alpi Mantry
Chief Human, Translate By Humans

Step into the vibrant world of innovation and internationalisation as we unravel the dynamic journey of Cristina Borquez, Localisation Program Manager at Meta. Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses.

In the ninth tale, Cristina shares her incredible insights and experiences in a candid conversation with our CEO and host, Alpi. Whether you’re a seasoned localisation professional or just stepping into the global market, her story is bound to inspire, educate, and entertain.

Let’s begin the show. Welcome, Cristina!

Key Takeaways:

Key Insights:

How has your journey evolved, starting as a translator and interpreter working with Language Service Providers (LSPs) and transitioning into project management roles at client sites?

My journey has indeed been quite a ride. Translation and interpretation have always been my passions from a young age. I initially started as a court interpreter but eventually found my niche as a translator. I spent several years working in various fields, including some exciting projects for Apple. Then, about a decade was devoted to Language Service Providers (LSPs), where I gained valuable experience in the ever-evolving world of localisation. In 2015, I transitioned to the client side, offering a fresh perspective on localisation. Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with different software and technology companies, striving to enhance their localisation programs.

Certainly! Cristina, your journey has been quite interesting and filled with valuable experiences. While it’s clear that the destination isn’t the sole focus, the numerous learnings gained along the way are truly remarkable.

Now, I'm curious about your involvement in localisation project strategies. Can you share your insights on the process of selecting a specific target market?

Choosing the right market is a crucial decision for many companies. To make this choice, you should assess what you already have, especially regarding data. Your industry plays a significant role in this decision. For instance, if you’re in the SaaS or software business, you’ll need to identify your target audience, like knowledge workers, and understand the potential market for your products. Metrics on untapped opportunities are vital as well.

Consider the market’s history. Are there any historical trends that could affect your product’s success? Also, evaluate how your competitors are faring in that market. Their experiences can provide valuable insights. If you rely on a partner network, ensure they can operate effectively in the chosen country or region.
Having a presence in the market, such as an office, can be advantageous.

Understanding the local language proficiency level is crucial, especially if it directly impacts your product.

Create a matrix to prioritise countries based on their feasibility and risk. Your Tier 1 countries should be the high-priority, low-risk options. Gradually expand your market presence based on this analysis. These are the strategies we’ve used to make informed decisions.

Did you face any challenges in managing this research and the expectations of your stakeholders?

Indeed, my experience has shown that many companies often lack crucial data when contemplating global expansion. This includes basics like usage statistics in different countries and revenue per country.

Globalisation and localisation require more than just translation; they involve a broader scope.

This expansion demands additional resources, such as engineering and data science, which may not always be readily available. I’ve encountered situations where there’s a shortage of foundational data and resources, hindering the process.

Moreover, transitioning from a Language Service Provider (LSP) to the buyer side can be challenging. It necessitates a shift in mindset. It’s not merely about localisation; it’s about aligning with the business and its objectives. Effectively communicating and collaborating with stakeholders is crucial. It’s about translating your knowledge into a language that resonates and delivers results. This interaction with business stakeholders, gathering data, and aligning all the pieces supporting global expansion is both a challenge and a valuable learning experience.

Have you ever wondered why localisation is necessary, especially considering your assertion that everyone should speak the same language?

Certainly, especially in companies where localisation is still in its early stages, like my experience at Atlassian, where I was the first formal localisation hire. Often, it’s an afterthought and initially tied to international marketing. Proving the value of localisation is a daily challenge. You’re constantly demonstrating that it’s not just an expense but a growth enabler, boosting revenue, brand recognition, and more. This struggle is a common theme among colleagues in similar companies early in their localisation journey.

What's your approach to localisation projects? Whether you were working as a translator, collaborating with a Language Service Provider (LSP), or approaching it from a client's perspective, could you describe your methodology for handling these projects? How did you define and measure success for each of these roles in the localisation process?

My journey through different roles in localisation has been a tremendous learning experience. As a translator, nearly two decades ago, I received instructions and files, a far cry from today’s landscape, where translators often connect through various project management tools. Shifting to a Language Service Provider (LSP) role, I grasped the importance of precise instructions, communication, and technology.

Technology, in particular, emerges as a central theme. As you establish a localisation program, technology becomes your ally. Companies now have their project management tools, and during my time at Atlassian, we heavily relied on JIRA. This allowed us to unify our vendors and team in one platform. Technology offers the beauty of seamless communication and consistency, making it an indispensable tool for scaling up localisation efforts.

My approach to project management hinges on leveraging technology and maintaining effective communication. Ultimately, there’s a person behind every project, and it’s vital to connect on a personal level while harnessing the power of technology.

In the context of this project, could you elaborate on the pivotal role that communication has played? It seems likely that numerous interactions were necessary to ensure that everyone involved was well-informed and aligned, whether it pertained to utilising the technology or assessing the return on investment. Can you highlight the significance of communication in the project management process?

Effective communication is essential in localisation. While tools are valuable, the human touch is irreplaceable. Whether you’re dealing with vendors, customers, or your team, prioritise discussions. Tools shine when relationships are solid, but in the beginning, nothing beats a kick-off meeting. It’s about understanding anxieties, aligning expectations, and addressing concerns.

Communication is the lifeblood of localisation, enhancing the journey alongside technology.

What are the top three criteria when selecting Language Service Providers (LSPs) or external vendors for collaboration based on your experience with them?

When working with vendors in localisation, I view them as an extension of our team. Building strong relationships is key. Daily catch-ups, regular chats, and meetings help foster trust and collaboration. Having a responsive and invested production team is crucial. A bit of humour goes a long way in human relationships.

The ideal vendor is one who not only takes the work seriously but can also share a laugh.

The partnership must evolve and grow, not just when you’re a small client but as your needs expand. I’ve been fortunate to work with vendors who’ve stayed committed, even when our budget was limited, and we’ve seen remarkable growth together. It’s all about that enduring commitment and partnership.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you strongly preferred working with a specific vendor, but your management did not share the same level of enthusiasm or support for that choice?

I’ve been in a situation where we had an existing Language Service Provider (LSP) and proposed bringing in a second vendor for quality assurance in a different language. This understandably raised questions from the business about why we needed to invest more money in a second vendor. Explaining the value of the second vendor was a bit complex. It wasn’t just about reviewing; they played a critical role in language quality assets development and acted as the ultimate owners of quality. They also managed regional stakeholders. This situation required significant effort to make stakeholders understand the value proposition.

Did you ever encounter the drawbacks or disadvantages of technology, even though we previously discussed its benefits and central role in most localisation projects?

Technology can be a fantastic ally, but it can also be a bit tricky. Technology sometimes leads to misunderstandings, especially in the realm of localisation, where many of us are non-native English speakers. We use it to convey needs, urgency, and confusion. While technology bridges gaps and offers incredible advantages, the last few years have made us realise the value of face-to-face interaction, something we’ve missed during increased remote work. Technology is excellent, but there are moments when nothing beats good old human connection.

What's your take on machine translations?

Machine translation is a hot topic these days. It’s come a long way from the days of basic Word docs and quirky translations. With AI and other tools, it’s in the spotlight, but truth be told, it’s been around for a while. It’s a great tool when used smartly, boosting productivity and efficiency, especially for handling the deluge of content in our data-driven world. But let’s not get carried away – it’s just one tool in the shed. The human translation touch is still essential for some industries and content types. The future might bring new tools, but machine translation is here to stay, making business budget allocation and content prioritisation easier. So, yes, it’s brilliant, just not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Before we delve into the rapid-fire round, I'd like to ask about one valuable advice you would offer to your younger self or someone within this community based on your journey.

Seeking wisdom from others is vital. Learn to be, this is what I’m telling you, to my younger self and my current self, and learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I’ve been in many situations where I didn’t necessarily have all the answers and where I thought, what am I going to do? You know, and if you feel you’re on the right path, because you will learn something from it. So it’s going to be uncomfortable for a while.

It’s easy to assume everyone’s got it all together, especially in unfamiliar territory like software localisation. But remember, it’s okay not to have all the answers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from those around you. Even when you feel out of your depth, that’s often where the richest lessons are found. Embrace discomfort because that’s where growth happens. If you find yourself in a room with big shots like CEOs and CMOs and are the localisation expert, acknowledge what you know and don’t be shy about sharing your expertise. You bring value to the table, and that’s something to be confident about. In short, learn from others, but also recognise your worth and contribute humbly.

Certainly, Christina, your advice is truly appreciated, especially about embracing discomfort. That's a valuable lesson we'll carry with us. Now, let's dive into the rapid-fire round. Your insights have been incredibly enlightening, and I'm sure everyone will benefit from them. Thank you!
So ready for the rapid-fire then. Okay, so what's your favourite language?


Your favourite localisation tool?

Not so rapid-fire on my side. It can be anything like a translation management system.

Is there anything that you love using for most of your projects?

Trello is not a localisation tool, but I have used it applied to localisation. Trello or JIRA. I’ve loved the use cases we’ve used them for.

Any localisation advice you will carry on for your life that you've received?

It’s not just localisation advice but keeping your vendors close. And your stakeholders close. And yeah, your team. What I said about the extended team works for me.

Now, we'll budge out of localisation. Your favourite holiday spot?

I cannot choose one, it can be a beach, it can be a concert, it can be a city. It can be anywhere where I have something fun to do and good company.

Favourite country you like to go to often?

I’ve lived in four countries in the last ten years. Any new country is exciting. I’m from Spain. I go there on holidays, my friends and family are there, but I can’t choose one country.

Favourite colour?


As our conversation with Cristina Borquez ends, we’re left with a profound admiration for her journey and expertise. The world of localisation continues to evolve, and Cristina’s wisdom serves as a beacon of knowledge for those navigating its intricate waters.

On the other hand, how is your localisation journey going? Remember, the world is your audience; you can make a global impact with the right strategies. So, seize the opportunity, explore new horizons, and let your content shine internationally.

It’s time to translate your ambitions into reality, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Join us at Translate By Humans; we’ll transform your global vision into a reality together. Don’t wait; book your free consultation call with us and initiate the journey to localisation excellence today!

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