Meet our Staff (I). Hendrika Huisman, Assistant General Manager at our Dutch branch
10 April, 2014
Our blog contains many different articles about the translation industry and Jensen Localization as a company. But we want to give you a closer insight of our staff both professionally and personally. For this reason, our usual articles about languages, localization and international business will be collated with interviews with some of our colleagues.
This first interview is with our Assistant General Manager in our Dutch branch, Hendrika Huisman.
What is your origin?
I was born in the Netherlands. Both my parents are originally from Friesland, a province in the North part of the Netherlands where people have their own language (Frisian). Though I never lived in Friesland myself, I was raised bilingual, Dutch and Frisian.
What did you study?
I have a degree (similar to Master) in English language and culture.
Did you always want to become a PM or did it happen as a coincidence?
It happened as a coincidence. When I finished my degree and started looking for a job I knew virtually nothing about the translation business. I did not even know agencies worked with PMs until I stumbled on a job opening for a PM at Jensen Localization.
How long have you been working for Jensen-Localization?
I just celebrated my tenth anniversary this past January. I have been with the team since January 2004.
Did you start working for JL right after finishing school or did you gain experience from other jobs?
I started immediately after finishing my degree. I had some prior working experience in some prior small jobs I did parallel to my studies, but nothing major and nothing that I did fulltime. To me, it was an advantage not having any experience in the translation business as it meant I could be trained from scratch without being hindered by previous experience or insisting things should be done in a different way.
What are the pros and cons about being a PM?
The pros are that the job is very versatile. Each project is different and requires its own approach. I really like the fact that our clients and freelance translators are located all over the world and that we get in touch with many nationalities. I like the challenge of difficult jobs, where you start off thinking “how can we ever manage this” and then pull it off anyway. I also like the fact that the industry is very dynamic and that we learn new tools on a yearly basis. I guess the con can be that the job can very stressful because of the many deadlines we have to meet every day. However, this is not really a con to me as it keeps my jobs challenging and interesting. I would probably get very bored in a job without deadlines.
What are your main tasks as Assistant General Manager?
As the Assistant General Manager I have the responsibility to keep the office in Groningen up and running. I am in charge of the production/workload handled both by PMs and in-house translators. I also handle the job interviews in case we need new staff and in addition to that I handle small tasks that come with running an office, like handling mail and answering phone calls. In addition to the assistant manager position, I also work as a PM. I think this is an absolute requirement for my position. I feel you cannot be in charge of a group of PMs without knowing and, more importantly, actually experiencing what their work is like.
What are your main tasks as Project Manager?
As a PM I handle any jobs that clients send. This can vary from a very small job to be delivered the same day, or even very big jobs of thousands or even millions of words. Sometimes deadlines are good and sometimes tight. As a PM, I closely need to monitor budget, deadlines and quality. I select the translator and reviewer that are most appropriate for the job and make sure they deliver on time and that the quality is in good order. I run quality checks on my end and send reports back to translator/reviewer and have them fix the files. Part of the job is also to provide assistance to resources when they are facing issues. This could be specific questions about the project but also technical problems with the CAT tool. I always do my best to help them. If the technical problems are too complicated I can refer them to our IT team. Then there is also the administrative side to the job, as each project needs to be logged in our system so the resources working on the job can see their PO in our online system. A last task is making sure that we receive the correct PO from our client and log this in our system so the financial department can invoice the job.
What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
I dedicate my spare time to my family. I have two young children asking for my attention when I am home from work. When they are finally asleep in the evening I like to read, practice sports or watch a movie.
How many languages do you know?
I am a native speaker of Dutch and Frisian and a near native speaker of English. In addition I have good knowledge of German and French.
What is the most important element to you when working with new clients?
To me the most crucial thing is to really listen to their needs and make sure their demands are being met. This goes for all clients of course, but in particular for new clients I feel it’s important that we get a feel of what kind of service they are looking for. We need to make things easier for our clients, so we need to make sure we have a good understanding of what is required so that we do not have to bother them with needless questions.
What advice would you give a new PM working in the same business as you?
To have an open mind and to be tolerant, flexible and dedicated.
Being a PM how important is it to work in teams and communicate with other staff members?
This is crucial. Without good communication we would not be able to do a good job. We need to work in teams so the work can continue even when a PM is ill or on holiday. And good teams are nowhere without good communication. If a client has an important instruction or special requirement all team members need to be aware of this so we can work accordingly.
Do you communicate with the staff from the other JL departments?
Yes, and not only with the other PMs, but also with staff from the other departments, such as the in-house translators or members from the IT, marketing or financial teams. There is also a lot of communication on a daily basis between the offices in the Netherlands and in Spain.
Do you think machine translation will ever replace JL’s services?
This is an interesting yet difficult issue. I have the feeling that in the next few years our jobs may change. Machine translation will probably get a more prominent role in the coming years. At the same time, I think machine translations can never fully replace human translations. For certain type of texts, I think machine translation is not an option. And even for texts that can be used for machine translation, these will always still need to be edited by real translators. So I think the industry will change, along with our jobs, but not fully disappear. Let’s hope I am not wrong.
What types of projects do you prefer working with?
I like the big projects that are a real challenge. They can be very stressful but the feeling of accomplishment is all the greater if we manage to complete it successfully. In terms of topics I like medical translations, just because I think the medical world is very interesting.
We hope you learnt more of the busy days of our AGM. Keep checking in on our blog as we will post more of these interviews with different staff members in future posts, together with our industry-specific posts.
Interviews, Jensen Localization, Project Management