Inside Vistatec with Cormac Eklof
This industry profile features Cormac Eklof and is part of a series of Vistatec Employee Interviews. Cormac is a Program Manager at Vistatec and has been with the company for over four years. We caught up to discuss localization and translation, working at Vistatec, and living in the Pacific Northwest.
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What got you interested in the localization and translation industry?
Cormac Eklof: Leaving college in Dublin, Ireland, in the mid-nineties, localization was a relatively newish buzzword doing the rounds, popping up in newspaper ads, job ads, and such. I definitely had to look it up; however, with basic computer skills from an IT course at the University of California, Davis, it seemed interesting and progressive.
In my first localization job, I worked on Internet Explorer 3, which dates me a bit!
How long have you been working for Vistatec, and how has the company evolved over that time?
Eklof: I have been with Vistatec for four and a half years now, and the company has made some incredible strides in that time. From working with some big, exciting new clients to developing a new focus on technical efficiency.
A number of the new tools we are using are very cool, such as Athena’s Query Management tool. (Created by the Applied Technology Group (ATG) at Vistatec.)
Tell us a little about your role and key responsibilities in Vistatec?
Eklof: I’m a Program Manager working on three accounts for Vistatec. The key elements are client and vendor interaction, wearing a flexible Operations and Sales hat, and team management, mentoring, and development. Probably the essential aspect of all is communication, both listening and communicating more actively also. You have to listen to what the client needs and then communicate that to your team at large to ensure results.
What does a typical day in Vistatec look like to you?
Eklof: Working in the Pacific Standard Time zone has its own set of pros and cons. Sometimes the mornings are a little hectic, with important meetings straddling the Greenwich Mean Time zone. However, the afternoon provides an excellent chance to prepare yourself and the extended team for the next day. So, the mornings are more about collaboration, and the afternoons are a chance to triage email, review details, and write content with the next working day in mind.
What is your most memorable experience, and what do you like while working for Vistatec?
Eklof: We have had a few great, productive, and enjoyable QBRs, (quarterly business reviews) with big clients in the last few years. One stands out about two years into the relationship with the client when they were catching on what Vistatec could do for them, and we realized we were providing great extended value to the client. The client localization manager called our Vistatec project management team an ‘extension’ of his team. It was a moment of synergy between the client and Vistatec. That was a particularly proud moment for all of us on the account—a tangible affirmation of our hard work to that point.
What’s one professional skill you’re currently learning/working on?
Eklof: Italian! It’s a beautiful language, and I have already nailed ‘The big brown cat,’ so I am almost there.
Where do you live, and what is your favorite thing about the area?
Eklof: I am living in Redmond, a suburb of Seattle, and a great thing about it is its proximity to the city and the surrounding towns, and at the same time, it’s only a half-hour drive to rural areas and only a couple of hours to natural sights like Mt Rainier, which is a stunning mountain here in the Pacific Northwest. The PNW is an incredible place. It’s beautiful, and nothing can prepare you for how stunning the landscape is.
How many languages do you speak, and what are they?
Eklof: Embarrassingly in the ”localization English” I have medium English, a bit of Irish, and very, very bad German. I learned early on as a program manager the trick to success in localization is to hire lots of talented people around who are excellent linguists so that you can hide amongst them!
Is there anyone that inspires you?
Eklof: My younger brother (4 or 5 years younger than me, depending on who you talk to). He beat cancer in 2002 and now has four amazing kids, and is the principal of a school in Cork. For me, it doesn’t get more inspirational than that.
What are your hobbies outside of Vistatec?
Eklof: In my spare time, I like to read; I love the movies for those couple hours of escapism and play a bit of soccer, which is pretty popular over here in Seattle, in a vain effort to keep in shape.
What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone aspiring to work within the localization and translation industry?
Eklof: I’d say, “Think Global.” It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a linguistic expert. The Localization industry is also the Globalization industry. They come hand-in-hand at this stage. Globalization means ensuring source content is suitable for a given locale or fixing it until it is. It’s a critical element of the whole localization game. So thinking about your job on a global scale helps a lot in the localization industry.
Finally, what’s one thing people don’t know about you?
Eklof: One thing people don’t know about me and is a very well-kept secret, I have never had one cup of tea in my entire life. Coffee or nothing!