Meet Vistatec's Program Manager - Heather Cunningham
Vistatec was founded on the passion of accelerating global commercial success in business and technology, connecting international audiences with compelling content and product experiences from various brands and companies. Although we prioritize fast-tracking brands to the market with reduced cost and overhead, we genuinely value the connection, communication, and bond built between global brands and their audiences in our work.
To continue building that bond, we have assembled a series of interviews geared towards shining a light on our expert employees and their fantastic work with Vistatec.
In this interview, we’ll be talking to Vistatec’s Program Director, Heather Cunningham.
Table of Contents
What Got You Interested in the Localization and Translation Industry?
I have a unique history in this industry. I first ventured into this industry after holding the temp admin position for about 20 years; Before I got this job, I never knew that this industry existed.
So, unlike other people who are tech engineers, linguists, or QA people, I ventured into this industry with an administrative background. However, the moment I got connected to the global community, I was completely hooked and wanted to learn everything I could.
In short, I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a unique global community despite the fact that I had no specialization in this industry.
How Long Have You Been Working for Vistatec, and How Has the Company Evolved During Your Time?
I have been with Vistatec for a little over seven years. This period has been quite some journey. Whereas evolution is a crucial part of almost all things, I am pleased to say that there have been some positive attributes that have remained constant with Vistatec over the years.
One such attribute is Vistatec’s positive people management process, which is one of the reasons why many people, including myself, opt to stick with Vistatec.
Another reason why Vistatec thrives is because of its dedication to its existing client base. They are not just after the next new fish, rather they take care of their existing client base. I suppose that this trend has been ongoing even before I joined the company. You can see that, over the years, they’ve developed a stable foundation for taking care of their current client base and allowing their clients to grow organically.
That’s not to say that Vistatec doesn’t pursue new opportunities because it does. This is especially true given that, unlike other companies that try to fit their clients into their box of technology, Vistatec is more flexible and adapts to customers‘ needs.
One of the notable evolutions of Vistatec is the review of the services. The quality of services available in Vistatec has significantly grown over the past seven years. I have no doubt that Vistatec is the industry leader in this area of the business.
There has also been exponential growth in the client base over the past year. This goes to show that clients and customers alike are realizing how crucial quality is for overall global success. User experience has become critical, and really it all comes down to quality, which comes back to the human approach.
Tell Us About Your Role in Key Responsibilities at Vistatec
I have really been fortunate to participate in quite a variety of roles in my time with Vistatec. I first started as a production manager for a team of PMS managers in the Mountain View, California office. Shortly after, I started expanding my responsibilities in the growing PMS in both South America, Asia, and Pacific regions. This role led to me taking on a global team.
After a couple of years, our team size tripled in comparison to what it was when I first started. With all of that growth in our primary strategic accounts, we found there are new aspects of business that required a kind of more focused approach. I, therefore, turned my attention to establishing a new role that focused on solutions for the ever-expanding needs of our clients.
This new role encompassed business intelligence, data analytics, and technology. In this new role, I can contribute to the overall planning of the business, including onboarding new clients to the company.
What Does a Typical Day at Vistatec Look Like?
The localization industry is greatly based on the time zone in which you are. Unlike most jobs, localization is a 24-hour job. Of course, this doesn’t mean we work for 24 hours.
Since I am in the Pacific Time zone, I begin my day at 7 am, after which I have a 3-hour overlap with our team in GMT Dublin. I then allow myself about 30 minutes each morning to scan through over 2,000 emails that came overnight to ensure that I see the most critical communication. I then proceed to back-to-back video calls for 2-3 hours. As soon as my team signs off, I review my priorities based on everything that has taken place within that time.
Typically, I take a little break then dive back into my list. That said, although my job is demanding, it has some flexibility to it. I, however, tend to stick to the focus time during the day so that I can be free in the evening like the usual job timeline.
What Would You Say Is Your Most Memorable Experience and What Do You Like About Working at Vistatec?
My most memorable moment is actually an emotional one. So, the thing I like most about Vistatec is that it cares about its employees. I say this because, in the very first year that I started working with the company, my family experienced two tragic deaths (one within my first month with Vistatec and the other within the first year), and Vistatec gave me support on both occasions.
Everyone, from HR to my manager and colleagues, gave me unquestionable support. There were no questions like ‘When will you be back?’ or ‘How long are you going to be out?’ There was no pressure. I was given 100% support and reassurance that I needed to focus on grieving and only come back when I was ready.
Frankly, I have never experienced such a flexible, supportive management team in my previous jobs. This experience not only impacted my family and I, but also affected how I manage my team as well.
What Would You Say Is the One Professional Skill You’re Currently Learning?
The one skill that I am focusing on right now is the allocation of resources. We have a growing client base, and workloads for each client are constantly changing. This skill will help me balance workloads based on individual team member’s strengths, new technologies, and the highs and lows of each account.
Where Do You Live Right Now? And What’s Interesting About the Place?
I live in Snohomish, Washington. This area is relatively new to me, given that most of my life, I lived in Northern California. Snohomish is a small historic town about an hour north of Seattle. It is known for its antique shops and Snohomish is actually starting to become a little bit of a destination for antique enthusiasts.
Whereas most people perceive small towns to be boring, I feel that there’s always something happening in this town. There are a lot of community activities like classic car shows, parades, farmers‘ market, and salmon bakes that you can engage in. Snohomish is a very active and welcoming place.
How Many Languages Do You Speak and What Are They?
Given that I have an administrative background, I am kind of an odd case when it comes to speaking multiple languages. That said, I can only claim to be fluent in English. However, I also double in Spanish, Italian, and a little bit of Japanese.
Is There Anyone That Inspires You?
For me, it’s not an individual per se; instead, it’s more like when you come across people who are just very honest. While they may come out as being a little harsh sometimes, honest and straightforward people inspire me to be better.
What Are Your Hobbies Out of Vistatec?
Well, I love being outdoors. This is actually something I have in common with my new territory in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). I enjoy activities like gardening, biking, hiking, and kayaking.
What is the Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received and Why?
The best career advice I have ever received is to learn to back up my gut feelings with concrete data. This advice actually came from a manager that I had difficulty with some years back. After working for some time in an industry, people tend to develop a gut sense. You begin to develop a strong sense of what the issues are and the solutions to these issues.
What I learned early on is that despite the strong sense of what you know needs to be done, backing this with concrete data is really the only way you can get resources from management to implement the solutions.
What Is the One Thing People Don’t Know About You?
There’s not much because I am an open book. However, I suppose one thing that I might not have mentioned is that although I reside in the United States, most people may not be aware that my mum is Canadian. So, half of my family is Canadian.