A localization lead answers the age-old question, "Career or baby first?"
In this post, Betty Lapeyre, Localization Lead for Freelance Operations, shares her incredible journey from project management to leadership and pregnancy.
Can you tell us how the Localization team is set up at GetYourGuide?
The Localization team does more than just translations, we make GetYourGuide feel like it's written in your neighborhood.
Our mission is to enable travelers to explore, book, and feel our products in their own language. We have a team of in-house language specialists who set the tone, style, and guidelines for each of the languages that we localize our website to, 18 languages at the moment.
We also work with a large pool of remote freelance translators. This is where the freelance operations team comes into play. Our goal is to make sure those 400+ freelancers can deliver quality translations that meet the needs of our ever-expanding inventory.
You have an incredible GetYourGuide growth story. In just four years, you started as localization project manager, got promoted into localization team lead — became a first-time mother — and then recently specialized as a localization lead for freelance operations. How did you start your career in project management?
I graduated with a Masters in Intercultural Management and Communications in my home city of Lyon. Then I moved to Dublin to complete a project management diploma and while I was there, I was hired as a localization project coordinator at Google. After a year there, I joined Evaneos as a project manager, which lead to becoming a project manager at ESCP Europe, one of Europe’s best executive MBA schools. Finally, I joined GetYourGuide as a localization project manager in 2016.
After only a year as a localization project manager at GetYourGuide, you were promoted to localization team lead. Tell us about this transition.
My manager and I talked about personal growth and development and had discussions around career trajectory. I told her I was passionate about people and that I had an interest in developing and coaching. She also noticed that this was where my strengths were. Especially after six years of project management, she knew I was ready to move to the next level.
This is how I made the move from managing projects, into leading and supporting a team of language specialists across seven languages.
As the saying goes, "Good things come in threes," and that's exactly what happened: I was promoted to team lead, celebrated my birthday, and found out I was pregnant within two days.
Wow, that's incredible. How did people react when you announced that you were pregnant?
When I told my team, they were overjoyed, and my manager was very supportive. I was really happy and relieved to receive that kind of support. I went through onboarding for the new role and learned the ropes of being a manager while pregnant. That was intense.
How much time did you spend on maternity leave?
I took 14 months of maternity leave, and my partner took two, of which we traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia with Sophia, our six-month-old baby. That was a fantastic trip and an incredible opportunity as a new family. The law in Germany incentivizes both parents to take parental leave.
Tell us about coming back to work after such a big break. How did you balance work and taking care of your child?
Well, that was not a piece of cake.
When I rejoined the company after a 14-month break, everything had changed. The company had almost doubled in the number of employees, the Localization team had a new structure, and I had a new manager. I came back to managing new languages. I had to re-learn all the processes and tools, get to know my new team members, and get up to speed on the new company landscape.
On the home front, we established a great routine. My partner would bring Sophia to KiTa, kindergarten, in the morning, and I would pick her up in the afternoon. Considering we live far from both our families, there was a dizzying amount of coordination. It was not without difficulties, but we made it work.
What would you say to our readers who are trying to balance growing their career and being a mother?
You can be a woman, a mother, and a leader all at once. That's something I want to drive forward. With the right level of organization, flexibility, and support, you shouldn't have to choose. I believe it's also essential to create an environment where men are encouraged to take as much parental leave as women. So career or baby? Both.
A few months after my return to work, I was enrolled in the Art of Leading Teams program that the company offers to all people managers. Throughout the modules, I learned a lot about myself as a person and manager. I identified what I strive for, the mission I have in life, and impact I can bring. It was eye-opening.
It sounds like this leadership training was a game-changer.
Honestly, it was the most transformative experience of my life, especially after coming back from maternity leave. My confidence was quite low after being out of the office for more than a year, but this training helped me bounce back.
Kevin Groen, the program creator, gave me the courage to move further with my career. He once asked me, “Why are you underestimating yourself?”
He had made me realize I was playing it safe with my career. My passion was to create a new team with an enormous impact. Shortly after the chat with Kevin, I worked up the courage to speak to my manager about my next step. It so happened that a new opportunity arose when we restructured and I jumped on the opportunity.
My manager's trust and support played a significant part in making it happen and I officially started as localization lead for freelance operations in August 2019.
Describe the new role. What progress have you made so far?
Since the beginning of August, I have been focusing on three main priorities:
1) Hiring team members. Within a month, I hired three new freelance coordinators. I am trying to create a collaborative and innovative environment where everyone is encouraged to be creative and take ownership.
2) Setting up the new framework. Previously, language specialists were responsible for managing freelancers. Now, we are transitioning all freelance operations from language specialists to freelance coordinators by the end of September, and started with a research phase. We’re sitting down with language specialists to learn about the techniques they put in place in managing freelancers as well as sending a survey to our freelancers to hear their side too. First learn, then act.
3) Identifying operational bottlenecks. As our freelancer pool has grown tremendously over the past year from 200 to 400+ and will continue to scale, we need to optimize and streamline our processes. Our key drivers will be innovation, efficiency, and scalability.
Ultimately, we are on a mission to build a world-class in-house 'localization agency,’ so it's an exciting journey.
Besides having open and honest conversations with your manager, can you offer our readers some tips on how to get promoted into their dream role?
Be passionate. Since my return to work, I was personally keen on learning more about freelance management. I regularly asked my teammates what processes they wanted automated and always tried to bring in new ideas.
Be proactive. Even though it was not my area of focus, before the creation of the new freelance operations team, I was active in streamlining and aligning our efforts across languages. I sent out surveys to our specialists to identify bottlenecks in freelance management. I also actively took part in setting up processes such as linguistic quality assurance and onboarding workflows for our freelancers.
Be courageous. It would have been easy to stay in a comfortable position and play it safe, but I decided to challenge myself and pursue a more impactful role.