When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the economic and reputational benefits for companies are clear. Across the globe, the most forward-thinking organizations have already realized the potential for a diverse and balanced working environment.
Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day: a day established not only to celebrate women’s achievements but to call for groundbreaking action to accelerate change for women. This year’s theme for IWD is “Be Bold for Change,” which urges everyone—female, male, and non-binary—to question: What could we achieve if the world truly stepped up to take bold action?
In light of this, Lionbridge is proud to partner with Women in Localization, a global, female-focused organization, to recognize women across the industry for their critical contributions to advancing gender parity. Here are eight outstanding women leading the way toward a more gender inclusive world.
Veronica Carioni, Catalonia
“A community of people who share a challenge”
Based in Barcelona, Veronica Carioni is the Assistant Chapter Manager of Women in Localization Catalunya. Veronica started out as a freelance translator and terminology reviewer before joining Vistaprint as an in-house translator, and is now the company’s Senior Localization Specialist.
Working on the end-client side, Veronica thrives on learning from people who have a non-linguistic background and working toward a shared goal. “What I like about working in this industry is that it feels like a community of people who share a challenge: show what the value of localization is,” she says. “Because of this, I believe we are more willing to discuss, exchange views, and learn from each other’s experiences.”
With a mindset that firmly embodies the theme “Be Bold for Change,” Veronica has supported the ups and downs of the Calatan chapter since day one—spearheading every detail of every event, and supporting the women in her team to perpetually strive for new levels of self-awareness and professional growth.
Chiara Pacella, Ireland
“Boldness is in the little big things that we do every day”
Chiara Pacella went from freelancing in-house to eventually moving to the client-side at Facebook in 2010. As Language Manager, her responsibilities span from linguistic support, translation quality assurance, training, and vendor and crowd management.
Working in an ever-evolving industry, Chiara considers change exciting, more than scary—and as what makes localization fun and dynamic. Yet, as well as keeping up with the high pace of her job, she works to overcome the unique challenges of work and womanhood. “Being bold for change does not necessarily mean risking it all. For me, it has meant making a series of choices, at a personal and professional level: moving countries three times to follow the love of my life… starting a family while in a professional growth spurt… not being afraid of taking that extra leave to spend time with my loved ones.”
Yukako Ueda, Japan
“We can improve more by trusting each other”
Yukako Ueda is the APAC Global Content Management Team Lead at NetApp and the mother of three children. With 20 years of experience in localization project management, quality assurance, translation, and team management under her belt, she launched the Japan chapter of Women in Localization in 2015.
Based on her experiences working as a freelancer, at local and global Language Service Providers, and at buyer companies, she began to believe that being bold for change means everyone in the industry making equal effort to deliver their best work. “I launched and ran Women in Localization Japan based on that principle. With the help of assistant managers, I tried creating a place where every attendee can speak up freely, and set up an environment where attendees can bring their children to events.”
Aiming for the best was all for the love of localization. “I like solving problems. I like communicating with people in the world. I like learning something every day. My job in the localization industry gives me all these experiences.”
Ora Solomon, Northeast USA
“It’s OK to disagree and important to share your opinion”
Coming from a multicultural background, Ora Solomon began a career in localization for her love of diversity. She started on the vendor side: first at a company acquired by Lionbridge, and then at Acclaro Inc., where she built the company from the ground up. She is now Director of Global Product Management at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
“I have been lucky, and always worked in companies and teams where there was gender equality in leadership,” Ora explains of her experiences encouraging growth in her workforce. “When I work with younger women—men as well—who are starting their careers, I make sure they are comfortable speaking their minds in any setting. It is OK to disagree and important to share their opinion, even with someone senior to them.”
Alsu Shakirova, Pacific Northwest USA
“We have come a long way as competent localizers”
Alsu Shakirova, Russian Localization Specialist at Blueprint Consulting Services, began her career in academia for the love of teaching foreign languages and the desire to connect people of all backgrounds.
Today, working in the exciting field of video game localization, her ethos is still the same. “I enjoy the opportunity to be around multilingual professionals who are equally passionate about bringing content to people who might not have access to it in their native language,” she says. “I absolutely enjoy the fact that localization is so multifaceted, including not only language aspects but also cultural and educational notions.”
In terms of driving change, Alsu sees herself as both an advocate for the importance of localization and an ambassador for women. “I see my contribution first through work as a localizer and localization advocate, among my friends and in my professional circles. There are quite a few people out there who do not realize the value of localization.” And as far as being a woman in localization: “We have come a long way as competent localizers and promoters of cultural ties throughout the world, but we still have a long way to go!”
Yasmin Ismail Vanya, Silicon Valley
“A fairly new industry with limitless potential for growth”
After graduating from the University of Phoenix, Yasmin Ismail Vanya started her career as a software engineer. She later became involved in localization, joined PlayStation in 2011, and was promoted to Localization Manager in 2014. As well as English, Yasmin can speak Burmese, Japanese, Persian, Urdu, some Arabic, and basic Mandarin.
“The localization industry is a tight-knit community; it’s easy to get to know and help each other,” she says. “It is a fairly new industry with limitless potential for growth, meeting people from all over the world, and learning about different languages, countries, and cultures.”
Yasmin represents the theme “Be Bold for Change” through her extensive contributions to non-profit organizations. Currently a member of three California-based human rights organizations, she leads refugee programs, supports democratic changes, organizes volunteer activities and fundraisers, establishes ESL classes, and builds communities—to name only a few.
Weili Xu, China
“Change has always been my theme”
From project management at Welocalize, Weili Xu moved on to join VMware. At one point in her seven years here, she managed the company’s China localization operations. Finally, she landed at NetApp, where she now deploys worldwide strategy and planning for the globalization team.
Weili values her experience on both the vendor side and customer side, which gave her a unique opportunity to understand the industry from different perspectives. “In my current role, what I enjoy most is that I can really see the impact of globalization—all those initiatives we are driving indeed accelerate our company’s international growth and make NetApp a truly global company.”
Besides professional, Weili has also had the chance to push personal boundaries. In fact: “Change has always been my theme over the years,” she says. “I grew up and got my undergraduate degree in Jiangsu, then I moved to work in Beijing. I got my master’s in business administration at the University of North Carolina. I lived, studied, and worked in several different cities. I enjoyed meeting different people and embracing new cultures. I like to take on new roles and challenges as I always learn new skills along with the changes.”
Lara Millmow, UK
“Women have the power to achieve whatever they want”
Currently based in the UK, Lara Millmow started in localization in 1994 at a US-based language service company in Boston. Lara launched the UK chapter of Women in Localization in 2014, and is now Managing Director of Elia, the European Language Industry Association.
What initially attracted Lara to the industry was the open-mindedness and respect for others that defines localization. “For me, the joy is working alongside others who have committed their working life to the appreciation of language and culture, and to play my part—however big or small—in making the world feel that little bit smaller.”
But being bold for change means more to Lara than a passion for the industry. “It was a bold move to launch the UK chapter,” she notes. “But I couldn’t have done it without making the boldest move of them all: deciding to believe in myself and that I can succeed, something that took me a long time to embrace. With self-belief, women have the power to achieve whatever they want—this is what will ultimately change the world.”
We salute these extraordinary women, their contributions to localization, and the bold strides they have made to diversify the industry.