Online you can find videos showing how bicycles are made and airplanes are flown. But to understand the mechanics of a major translation company like Skrivanek we need the words of Skrivanek’s specialized professionals.
One of those specialists is Global Sales Manager, Jaroslava Ouzka, most often called Jarka. She has worked for Skrivanek for 17 years, as the Global Sales Manager since 2016, and she still adores her job. Which is saying a lot because global business doesn’t really ever sleep, and the challenges for busy LSPs are many and varied.
Interviewer: What originally brought you into the world of language services?
Jarka: Oh, it was the English language. It’s gorgeous. It sounds like a song to me.
Interviewer: And it’s at the core of international business, even for Language Service Providers?
Jarka: Yes, it is.
Interviewer: How do you handle the intense demand on your time of a job like yours?
Jarka: I have to leave it alone for the weekend to avoid burnout. I don’t open my laptop until Monday morning. I have gotten better at this, and it’s really necessary. I have learned to keep my 12-hour days to just 5 days a week.
Interviewer: How did your years at Skrivanek begin?
Jarka: I started in the role of Branch Manager of the EU Project Centre, training linguists on methodologies like using CAT tools. I have also worked as a Project Manager, and now as Global Sales Manager I find that those experiences help me understand how to talk to clients and listen to their needs. I know precisely what Skrivanek can do for them in terms of our resources and capacity, and I am able to be thoroughly honest and never promise something that can’t be done.
Interviewer: So what exactly is a Global Sales Manager?
Jarka: As Global Sales Manager, I focus on language service sales in countries where we don’t have an established branch office. My team of 3 has grown to 8, and we reach out to global companies to get to know those people who make decisions about language services. We focus on countries where we aren’t shut out by in-country rates that have been driven so low we can’t compete, like Russia.
Interviewer: Can you tell me what the Global Sales Manager position is like in terms of the tasks you do?
Jarka: When our team acquires a new job, I oversee the execution of it, supporting them in whatever way I can.
Interviewer: Could you give me an example of a recent day in the life of Skrivanek’s Global Sales Manager?
Jarka: Oh sure! Today, for instance, I was finalizing a tender for a new project. Later I met with a client who needs voiceover services, and we were considering a new tool that might help the client do voiceover more cheaply. Some of us were brainstorming new graphical designs with updated colors and fonts this afternoon. And throughout the day I was monitoring 16 virtual United Nations sessions where we were delivering several languages of interpreting through dedicated channels. My role there was to fix any technical problems and make sure every participant could get in, and to oversee recording of the sessions, that sort of thing.
Interviewer: Wow! An average day? Are such days stressful?
Jarka: I love it, it’s great. Basically, we prepare all the conditions for a job so that the Project Manager (PM) can focus on assigning project parts to specialists. Global Sales ends up being about not only securing tenders, but managing job fulfillment, too, in order that the client is truly taken care of over the long-term. In fact, we do so much for the client that sometimes it looks like we are the client’s advocates. For instance, if a PM is nervous about dedicating resources to a job that initially has a small volume of work and doesn’t seem like it will pay off, I may advocate for that client to be taken on and handled a certain way. Often I feel I am working with various parts of the company for the fulfillment of the client’s expectations.
Interviewer: What is your relationship with your team members like? Is “teamwork” a defining concept of the way Skrivanek is run?
Jarka: It absolutely is. It’s one of the joys of working at Skrivanek and one of the reasons we are successful. I trust my colleagues. They have freedom and they come up with ideas. We have very creative people. They don’t wait for my instructions and that’s important. Everybody has their own style and I let them do it their way as long as it works. I am largely monitoring what’s going on. I bring knowledge and information and I help them. We understand each other.
And on the other end of the organization, the management is willing to invest in the company and trusts the employees. If there is a new technology, for instance, that I feel would be helpful to sales or services, our General Manager is supportive. In turn, I listen to the tech specialists, linguists, and other employees I am responsible to.
Interviewer: Do you have any thoughts to share about the guiding philosophy at Skrivanek?
Jarka: Well, I would have to say that our passion for excellence is at the heart of most decisions. And that isn’t just a tagline or something. The reason for the company’s existence is to help people who need language services. If Skrivanek is not passionate about helping its clients and providing superior translation in all of its forms, then what do we have to offer? Of course we have the goal of making money – but that requires excellence, and to be excellent is to ensure that both the clients and the employees are taken care of.
Interviewer: How do you personally handle the stress of a leadership position, especially when problems arise?
Jarka: I always say that this is just translation, and as much as it means to me, it is still just business. We have situations in life – like health and family – that are more important. I just let the stressful incidents pass.
J. V. McShulskis