Identifying a Translation Leader

Sales. Hiring. Localization.

These are three key functions that determine the growth of a business today. However, most companies don’t have someone leading the 3 rd function. Localization doesn’t get the same treatment as sales or hiring. In fact, almost 90% of the time, localization is simply an after-thought and as a function, it gets distributed across multiple teams.

However, in actuality, localization is just as important as sales or hiring. It’s a function that needs its own master. Having someone dedicated to handling your business’s localization efforts can speed up the decision making process, eliminate confusion, and achieve intended results.

But, of course, how do find someone who can lead localization. Localization is interdisciplinary, which means, you need someone who can handle the function while also being involved in the areas of sales and hiring.

A localization leader does not need to be from a specific educational background. However he/she needs to possess these 4 qualities. Let’s take a look.

He or She Must be Able to Make a Business Case for Localization

Often, most businesses implement a unified localization strategy after getting the content translated. It’s only after a particular department head identifies the need for expansion that he/she incorporates translation management as a key function.

This approach doesn’t work, especially from the sustainability angle. Not having a long-term plan will definitely lead to issues down the road. Improvisation is a great sign of a business’s adaptability, but, it also leads to chaos. Before you realize it, your “quick localization” efforts could be draining money.

These are some of the common roadblocks that exist on the path to localization. An effective localization leader must be able to able to overcome these roadblocks with the help of a well thought-out business case.

In order to present localization as a legitimate function, a localization leader must be able to direct the organization’s attention towards the need for multilingual content. He/she must be able to point out the benefits to the bottom line. Only then will there be a consensus towards investment.

Similarly, localization leaders will also have to systematically create plans that maximize resource usage. They will have to define goals and create data-driven frameworks that demand accountability with regard to localization efforts.


Familiarity with sales or marketing jargon is one thing, but, an authentic business leader has to be multilingual. Being fluent in multiple languages allows localization leaders to actual assess the quality of translated content.

At the same time, he/she must also be familiar with the cultures within which his/her organization is operating. So, it would be ideal to choose someone who has lived in regions that your business is currently planning to expand into.

Your localization leader has to possess market empathy and be able to tell you what happens on the ground.

A Jack of All Trades

As established earlier, localization is an interdisciplinary function. Needless to say, your localization leader will be involved with several departments as he/she directs your localization strategy. This requires your localization leader to handle multiple priorities and meet several demands at the same time.

A Team Player

Another major challenge with localization is execution. Successful execution depends heavily on the cooperation between multiple departments. In order to ensure this happens in the smoothest manner possible, localization leaders must be able to moderate dialogue between various functional areas.

Localization affects different departments differently. So, localization leaders have the added task of having to craft conversations that are suited to each department. Doing so will also establish a social bond, which will allow the localization leader to demand more from each department in the future, without having to worry about conflict.

The interdisciplinary prowess of a localization leader comes into play here as well.

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