How does project management relate to translation? The MS in Translation and Interpreting program invited Tom Alwood, a consultant in operations and technology for major communications companies, to explore this question with NYU SPS students.
Following his graduate studies at Columbia University, Tom began his professional career as an editor and gradually found himself involved in project management and translation technology in the wild-west phase of the translation industry when “we were inventing things as we were going along.” He now brings 28 years of professional experience to bear and views the uncertainties he had to navigate as having been an opportunity to learn, grow, and influence an evolving field.
The field of translation is getting more sophisticated and specialized areas such as software localization and audio-visual translations drive the need for specialization. Tom highlighted how translators benefit from knowledge of project management to more efficiently handle high volumes of work. And for those with a background in linguistic studies, project management of translation projects in translation companies offers career opportunities to use language skills in a different way.
As the translation industry evolves, Tom notes that freelance translators have a responsibility to understand the project management landscape: “To work effectively with project managers at language services companies, freelance translators must understand the purchase order process, how to follow detailed instructions, receiving and delivering work, asking relevant questions and invoicing.”
Tom concluded his talk by sharing his vision of industry trends, emphasizing the need for “more specialized training and credentials across the fields of translation and project management.” He suggested to students that experience in translation and localization project management can open the door for a wide range of career options in addition to being an essential skill in managing their own business as a translator.
Tom Alwood will be teaching TRAN1-GC3525: Translation & Localization Project Management this spring.