Interview with Ray Valido on the PM SIG

Published on 11.09.2018

Interview with Ray Valido on the Newly Formed Project Manager Special Interest Group of the Translation Company Division


Ray Valido proposed the creation of the Project Manager Special Interest Group, nested under the Translation Company Division of the ATA. A translation project manager of the Office of Language Services of the U.S. Department of State, Valido holds a Master of Arts in Translation and Localization Management (Spanish) from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. His language pairs are Spanish to English and Filipino to English.


ATA TCD: How long have you worked in your field? How did you get started in the field of translation and/or interpretation?

RV: I have been working as a translation project manager (PM) with the Office of Language Services at the State Department since 2008. However, I first worked as a Spanish translator in various jobs from 1996 to 2000, and also held positions in localization and tech support for a few Silicon Valley startups between 2000 and 2002. I worked for an international corporation in Madrid, Spain from 2002 to 2004, and after returning to the U.S., I discovered the localization project management degree program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Since I was already familiar with the industry, I decided to apply and was accepted. I was attracted to the program because it offered training both in translation and interpretation as well as in localization project management. Not only did I meet my future employer at Monterey, but it was also there that I began to develop a network of professionals in the field of localization project management.

ATA TCD: What inspired you to propose the creation of the Project Manager Special Interest Group?

RV: At a recent ATA annual conference, I was at the welcome celebration with several other translation PMs, and as we visited the different tables that were set up for the ATA divisions, we quickly realized that there was no group for those of us who work as project managers in the translation and interpretation industry. The need was evident for a group within the ATA where we could meet and learn from one another about our projects and our companies, and discuss the future of our field. I also met many people at ATA conferences who work as both freelance translators and translation project managers. This only underscored the need for a forum in which PMs could network, and ATA is the perfect community in which to do so. As a participant and speaker at ATA conferences, I have myself experienced the valuable networking that takes place among various groups: translators, translation companies, recruiters, and fellow project managers to name a few. The presence of a Special Interest Group (SIG) for translation PMs would offer us an opportunity to engage in dialogue not only with one another, but also with the various groups with whom we relate closely in our work.

ATA TCD: Where do you see the field of localization project management going in the future?  What are the most urgent issues to be addressed?

RV: The past few years have shown much growth and change in the translation and localization industry, and one can only expect that the future will bring more. I see an ever growing need for PMs who are trained specifically for this field to meet these future challenges, and I anticipate more employment opportunities for those who have the proper training both in the public and the private markets.

Translation and localization project management has emerged as a profession in its own right. Those who fill these positions are professionals who bring a unique set of skills and play an integral role in any translation company. The skills required of PMs range from linguistic and organizational to technological and interpersonal. For companies to attract and retain competent PMs, attention must be given to issues like compensation, workload, and burnout.

There need to be more opportunities for PMs to obtain training, both within academic settings and through mentorship and internship programs. One way to provide such preparation would be for institutions of higher learning to develop degree and certificate programs (both at the undergraduate and graduate levels) for training and equipping future translation and localization PMs.

ATA TCD: What are the broad objectives you hope PM Special Interest Group will achieve? What do you envision as the first actions that need to be taken to achieve those broad objectives?

RV: I have come to find that the work of PMs varies greatly with respect to tools, workloads, work environment, and projects. I think that translation PMs should start to get to know one another, network and share stories. Having a SIG within the ATA would provide an ideal forum for PMs to get to know one another and come to a deeper understanding of our role in translation companies and other translation organizations.

As the Special Interest Group grows, I would like to see a separate division for project managers within ATA where best practices could be developed and codified for PMs across the industry. Eventually, I would envision an ATA testing and certification program for project managers in the translation / localization industry. I can also see ATA conferences providing opportunities for translation / localization PMs to receive ongoing training through workshops and other intensive educational programs.

ATA TCD: What support does the PM Special Interest Group need from members of the Translation Company Division?

RV: Strong relationships and fruitful dialogue between PMs and translation companies can be mutually beneficial for both recruiting and hiring skilled PMs and providing them with optimal working environments. The TCD could be a forum in which conversations could be held regarding the current state of the project management profession. Since the PM-SIG is in its infancy, the TCD could spread the word within the various translation and localization companies about the existence of this emerging community of PMs. We are looking forward to ATA59 in New Orleans this fall and hope to network with other PMs both at the division meeting and at the TCD’s dinner.


We thank Ray for the interview and invite members of the TCD community to learn more about the Project Manager Special Interest Group at the Translation Company Division meeting at #ATA59.