To remain agile is to embrace change. That’s why we are pumped to announce The Loc Show’s new co-host: Gavin Grimes!
You know Gavin from the Smartling Leadership team and as the VP of Language Services, but you’re about to know him in a brand new way as he pairs his brand of savvy with Adrian Cohn’s tried and true interview skills to level up The Loc Show!
Gavin is stealing himself away from the Leadership team just long enough to help you become an expert in language translation management. Double the fun, double the insight! Our weekly podcast will help keep you up to date on best practices and tips on how to keep your business scalable and innovative.
Press play now and level up with us!
Save your spot at Smartling’s free online Global Ready Conference online April 14, 2021 11AM EST.
What you will learn on this episode: What Gavin will bring to the table on this podcast and a bit about his background His reasons and inspiration to work in Language Services What the culture’s “insatiable appetite” for content means What inspires him to push past his comfort zone What Gavin thinks companies need to be aware of to succeed in 2021
Jump to a section
[01:07] About Gavin and his background in localization.
[07:37] A story about why Gavin has a yellow hard hat hanging in his home office.
[10:06] How the path Gavin was on led him to Smartling.
[14:10] Achieving Smartling’s goals, scaling the company, and evolving with the industry.
[16:25] Gavin’s projections for the localization industry.
[20:00] What Gavin’s role is going to be on the podcast.
[22:04] Smartling’s upcoming Global Ready conference.
Full Transcript that almost certainly has typos (forgive us!)
Announcer: You're listening to The Loc Show, presented by Smartling.
Adrian Cohn: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of The Loc Show. Today I'm really excited to introduce somebody who is not my guest. He is actually joining the show as co-host. Gavin Grimes, welcome to The Loc Show and thank you for joining as co-host of the podcast.
Gavin Grimes: Thanks so much, Adrian. Super excited to be on board and hello to all the millions of listeners we have already. I'm sure there's going to be more now that I'm on board, but yeah, really happy to be here.
Adrian Cohn: Well, we're glad to have you and Gavin has just recently joined the company as our VP of Language Services. He's got a wealth of experience in the industry and today the purpose of the episode is to get to know Gavin. So Gavin, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?
Gavin Grimes: So as you kind of very, very politely said, you called me a veteran of the industry a little while ago, a couple of weeks ago, and I kind of shook my head going no. But I actually kind of am. I've been in the industry an awful long time. As my accent alludes I'm Irish. About 20, 25 years ago in Ireland, and Dublin specifically, the Irish government were given great incentives and tax incentives for US companies to set up their European headquarters in Dublin. And as that started to happen, a lot of the large enterprise companies started to realize that, "Hey, if we really want to penetrate the European market, we're going to have to think about localizing the product and giving them the product in the specific languages."
Gavin Grimes: So at that time, an awful lot of different diverse backgrounds and educational backgrounds kind of fell into the industry. It wasn't by design. It was there was a huge amount of jobs available from an engineer perspective, from a project management perspective, and from a language perspective. So I was one of those. I came from a civil engineering background. And I found myself joining a company called Lotus Development right out of college and worked on a product called Lotus Notes, which is very dear to my heart still. And I worked on site with those guys doing some engineering tasks. And then after a year I moved over to Cambridge in Boston and their headquarters and worked there for about a year on the internationalization of Lotus Notes on non-PC platforms, S390, S400. And that was in the time where IBM was acquiring Lotus.
Gavin Grimes: So after about two or three years I was up for another challenge and the startup world really was attractive me. So I joined a startup at the very early stages, in the same space, in the language space, and language services space. And that really accelerated my learning and my career. Anyone who's been part of the startup and the dynamic nature of a startup will understand that you wear lots of different hats on any different day. And it was a fantastic education for me, from a in front of a client perspective, from a an operational perspective, from a tech perspective. So I saw lots of different sides of our industry. I was lucky enough to go onsite with three or four large enterprise clients and be part of their internal teams as well.
Gavin Grimes: And we grew the startup to a pretty impressive size and it was acquired by Welocalize about 14 years ago and that started my journey with Welocalize, a wonderful journey. I stayed on site with clients for maybe two years post acquisition. And then Welocalize bought a quite insular Chinese company with two sites, Beijing and Jinan around between three and 400 people. And it needed to be integrated into this multi-national that was in a global company that was Welocalize. And I quite naively put my hand up for the challenge and thinking it was going to be maybe a six month gig. And I ended up staying there for six years and taking over the general manager role across all the different disciplines that was on offer in those two locations. And it was such a wonderful time. It was incredible.
Gavin Grimes: Number one, I was completely out of my comfort zone. I'm landing in Beijing, literally not knowing anyone, not speaking the language with my hotel name in English on a piece of paper, mistake number one, nobody could read my hotel name. So that was the first challenge. But I think to truly see what you're capable of as a person, as an individual, you need to be put in these situations that's out of your comfort zone. And this really forced me out of my comfort zone and it was hugely rewarding for lots of different reasons. So my main remit was to integrate this fantastic Chinese entity into Welocalize. But 50% of my time, yes, was spend on that. But 50% of my time was also spent on educating colleagues in the US and in Europe on how to be most successful in working with Chinese colleagues maybe from a cultural perspective, because there are differences. But once you get over that, the rewards are huge. I've got lifelong friends that I made in China and will have for the rest of my life. And it was an amazing experience.
Adrian Cohn: Wow.
Gavin Grimes: Yeah, it really was. And with all local entities, I think that the aim needs to be to have a local manager or a local lead, local country lead. I think it's the right thing to do. So, after a number of years I handed it over to my second in command and she will continue to do an amazing job. So then I came back to Europe and spent a year doing part of the M&A team and doing kind of operational diligence on some potential acquisitions. And that gave me a whole different perspective and a whole different understanding of what goes into the right acquisition fit from a cultural perspective, from an economic perspective, from a operational perspective. And what are the things you need to really focus in on to get a partner that will work.
Gavin Grimes: And then for the latter number of years in Welocalize, I was VP and General Manager for Europe, full responsibility on enterprise portfolio in Europe across a number of sites, across a number of verticals on a client side. And then for the last year, I sat on the exec, the extended exec, and had full responsibility for Europe, but also dotted line responsibility for Global Enterprise, which was quite a large portfolio. So lots of different roles, lots of different geographies and lots of different challenges.
Adrian Cohn: It's not easy to summarize literally 1000s of trips around the sun in four or five minutes, but you've done it.
Gavin Grimes: Yeah, right?
Adrian Cohn: But there's one thing that you said towards the beginning of your career that I'm really delighted to learn about it. And I want to go back to it for a minute, cause I've been meaning to ask for weeks now, what is that yellow hard hat all about hanging on the side?
Gavin Grimes: Oh my goodness.
Adrian Cohn: Because right now, of course, we're recording this over Zoom and Gavin's in his home office and there's a yellow hard hat. And you said you were in civil engineering.
Gavin Grimes: Yeah. No, wow. I did wear a hardhat. In some civil engineer exercises I did, but that's not related. My dad literally wore lots of different hats as we were growing up. He started life as a carpenter. And then he was into construction, he had his own construction business. Then he had a loan kind of machinery hardware combo, but he also was a farmer for 25 years in our local towns, Skerries in North County Dublin. And my dad was very much still alive, but this is a tribute to him. This was his helmet that he wore for those 25 years. And I have a little plaque underneath it with his name. Because it's not something he needed to do, it's something that he chose to do to help out the community and I have a huge respect. I learned an awful lot of life lessons working with my dad all through my early years. And I still use a lot of those lessons in my everyday business, every single day. So yeah, my dad played a huge role in my development as a young man and early career.
Adrian Cohn: I love that. Yeah. I mean, just to speak about my father for a moment, I'm very much influenced by his work and his life. We have a very strong relationship. Actually, he's an architect and graphic designer. So I grew up going to his construction sites, seeing him draw all of these amazing graphics. I've also had the opportunity to work with him professionally. He actually laid out the book, Move the World with Words.
Gavin Grimes: Wow. I didn't know that. Fantastic.
Adrian Cohn: So, we've worked professionally on a number of occasions, which has always been a good bonding experience.
Gavin Grimes: It's incredible. I mean, yeah, it's incredible. I think I only appreciated the lessons that I was learning as I got older and more into my career. And I started referencing back to information that I was kind of absorbing naturally and seeing how my dad did business and talking to a different foremen on building sites and stuff. So, yeah, it's fantastic to be able to use that information that you received at an early age.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. Okay. So Gavin, you spent 15, 20 years developing a career in the translation, localization space. How did you get to Smartling?
Gavin Grimes: Yeah, good question. If I look at my career holistically, it's gone in three or four year cycles. And I don't know whether I get bored or whether I want a new challenge after three or four years, but I definitely have changed direction quite dramatically. Even though it's under the same realm of language and localization and translation, I have had very different challenges every three or four years. And if I'm very honest, I was ready for another one. I see the last year as kind of a halftime in my career. I want to achieve a lot more in my career going forward, but it was certainly a time of reflection and COVID as well accelerated that reflection and I wanted a new challenge. And I didn't know what that challenge was to be very honest with you.
Gavin Grimes: And by chance, someone introduced me to Jack and we have a very common understanding and what's the right word, a clear direction of where we think an industry is going to go and we got talking and we hit it off. And then we talked again and was like turned into a, kind of a speed dating period of time. But what I liked about Smartling and what I liked about Jack is, first of all the integrity that he showed me on those early meetings and the cultural kind of, the cultural Smartling, what was what was being built. And that's hugely important to me and the people who know me will know that comes number one on nearly all my lists. Well Smartling is a company that I admired from afar for a long time in that tech space. And it became number one in that tech space, in the platform space and thought off or thought of very highly.
Gavin Grimes: But what a lot of people don't know is that the language services piece is equally as impressive, but just hasn't got the right exposure yet and is perfectly positioned to do amazing things because DNA and it, sorry, innovation and technology is in the DNA of a company like Smartling. So that can be adopted across all the different service lines. So that was true to the conversations with Jack that I needed to kind of parked that as I talked to the rest of the exec or the rest of the leadership team and see if they share that ambition and that intellect and the vision for where the industry is going and what role Smartling will play in that and to my delight, they did, to a person. And it was exciting to me. And it was like, I felt like I could play a role in what Smartling's ambition is.
Gavin Grimes: So yeah, that's really coming from a very high level why I felt it was a good match. And again, it's a challenge. It's something, again, as I go back to, as I said, as I landed in Beijing, and with that piece of paper with my hotel name on it out of my comfort zone, I wanted to be out of my comfort zone again. And when you're in a company for a long time, even though it's very challenging and very rewarding, sometimes you don't get that opportunity to be truly out of your comfort zone. And how have the knots in your, have the nervous feeling in your stomach. And that's a good thing a lot of the time.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. When we announced your appointment to the role of VP of Language Services, and I just pulled up the press release, Jack said, which is in reflection to what you've just stated as well. He said, and I quote for the past decade, Smartling has been recognized as the industry leader in translation management software. And on this decade, we embark to also be recognized as the industry leader in modern, scalable translation services. And that is what we aspire to do. And I certainly have been inspired by the quick action that you're taking, joining the team, and believe very strongly that this company will achieve these goals.
Gavin Grimes: It absolutely will. I mean to my delight, I mean, this is not a build from the ground up. A lot of the things are in place already. It's how we evolve and how we evangelize that as well in the marketplace we're just going to be key. So a lot of my initial responsibility will just be kind of waving the flag of what we can do and putting that out there, what we can do, but then of course scaling what we have internally as well. But the beauty of a company like Smartling again, is for me, is that everything's under the same roof. So I can go to the product. I can go to development. I can go to the data team with my wishlist, where I feel that that would benefit the language services team, and ultimately the client, and it can be and built internally, which is hugely powerful.
Adrian Cohn: And another thing that you and I have discussed, and that Smartling has recognized as a value proposition for many, many years, is that because we started as a technology company. We have the ability to act in a very agile way. I mean, just speaking of our product for a moment, we send out 20 new updates every single day. And that's the type of agility that any modern business across any, any business sector requires. I mean, you have to be able to iterate on a daily basis. So we have that in our DNA, and it's really exciting to have you join the business to help grow what we've already built.
Gavin Grimes: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I don't see that as a pivot or anything like that or that extreme. It's really just an evolution. So it's the language services piece is there, the foundation is in place. What do we need to do to evolve that, to become best in class, to be seen as equal pairing as the platform. I think it's very, very doable.
Adrian Cohn: Well, we'll definitely get to on this podcast and through other mediums what we're working on to make language services even better. But for now, Gavin, tell us a little bit about what your outlook is on the industry. What are some of the things that you're noticing that may be worth people taking a second look at.
Gavin Grimes: For sure. I mean, what a year we've just come through and it's been absolutely crazy. But out of that, there's a lot of things that have happened, out of the COVID pandemic. We're going to see a lot of growth. Growth will continue within the industry. What COVID has done, it's accelerated an awful lot of companies' digital transformation. It's accelerated the need to be on an e-commerce platform to get your product or your service out there. Of course, there's some verticals that have been affected more than others around travel and hospitality, but overall, it has changed a lot of companies' outlook and what they want to achieve and how they're going to achieve it. So growth will be a big thing. The type of content, so people's appetite for content just continuing to grow. And it is, hugely.
Gavin Grimes: People's attention spans as well is probably reduced. So how they want the content has changed. I read somewhere that by the end of 2021, 80% of the traffic on the internet will be video. So how people are communicating, how people are educating, how people are selling, how people are buying has gone more towards that video side of things. So how LSPs evolve and position themselves to handle that will be key. Emerging markets, of course, as economies develop, as GDPs increase, will give a platform for telecommunication, will give people access to internet, will give people access to smart phones to be able to afford smartphones. So again, their appetite for content will increase. Some of the two main areas in that kind of area now at the moment are maybe India and Africa, although there's been some fluctuations in GDP in India recently that economists are are saying it's going to go back up.
Gavin Grimes: It's been averaging maybe 5% over the last six or seven years. India is a country of, is it 20, maybe more, official languages. So English is not going to cut it there. So, and again, the appetite for content is going to increase. So how LSPs position themselves to service those emerging markets will be key as well. This, I mean, the evolution of working from home, everything virtual, how we're talking to each other. And I know Smartling was hugely out in front with bringing, sending people home, making sure they're safe working from home, will that change? I think we'll go to a hybrid solution. I think [inaudible 00:19:02] a lot of people are saying working from the office for some collaborative tasks, but working from home, I think the language services industry, especially the large players, we're well positioned to handle the kind of pandemic from a continuity of work perspective.
Gavin Grimes: You know, most people can work from home. Most things were in the cloud already. We'll, there'll be a demand for more AI driven solutions, for sure. A good example of that will be [inaudible 00:19:35] a machine learning engine that will get better and learn from its mistakes. And there'll be lots of other machine learning possibilities within our industry as well. So there'll be a lot of interesting things that are going to happen, but it's how you position to get out ahead of them and be leaders in those areas would be key for LSP's success.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. Tremendous. Tremendous. Well, there's so much for us to cover on this podcast. And what I'm really excited about is that now I have a co-host to work with on this show and we're going to have some amazing guests coming up. The format of the show will largely stay the same. The only big change is that we've brought Gavin on. So I've got some fantastic big guns now to help out with [crosstalk 00:20:29].
Gavin Grimes: Be careful what you wish for, Adrian.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah, well, you know, but I'm excited cause our guests have had a lot of fun being on the show and they've been able to share their story. And that's what this podcast is about. It's about learning from the experts in the language translation space so that each of our listeners can pick up a little bit of knowledge on a weekly basis so that they can go back to their own language translation teams, whether they're translators or localization managers or developers or engineers, and they can introduce different practices into their business and the variety of content that we've put together for this show, the variety of guests, I've been inspired by it personally. And I'm just so glad, Gavin, that you're joining the team.
Gavin Grimes: Me too. I mean, one of the beauties of our industry is the huge diversity in people and the huge diversity of people's backgrounds as well. It's fascinating to me and it's what's kept me in industry for so long. The people you meet are incredible. So I'm really looking forward to getting the opportunity to kind of hear about people's stories, how they got into the industry, what keeps them in the industry, what keeps them awake at night, what keeps them excited about it. So, yeah, it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun. That's the main thing. What to do every day should be fun. And people need to sometimes be reminded of that.
Adrian Cohn: Couldn't agree more. Well, if you're listening and you would like to be on the podcast, send us an email Loc Show and Smartling dot com. And for those of you who have not heard yet, we have also announced our global ready conference. It's going to be online this year, April 14th, 2021. It's starting at 11:00 AM eastern time, which I believe is 16:00 GMT. Right? You can register for free at Smartling dot com slash conference. We're going to be introducing the speaker lineup soon, but Gavin and I have been working on this with a few other folks. It's going to be amazing. Think more of a Netflix stream than a typical conference. We're going to be elevating the experience. It's going to be a huge amount of fun and I'm really looking forward to that.
Gavin Grimes: Yeah. I've been to an awful lot of industry conferences. This is something different. Yeah. And yeah, it's going to be good fun. It's going to be good fun. And it's going to be educational, but it's going to be very interactive and yeah. It's not going to be your typical virtual conference. Put it that way.
Adrian Cohn: Exactly. Well, great. Well, Gavin, thank you for joining as a co-host, introducing yourself today. We'll be back shortly with more episodes of The Loc Show and until then, hope you guys have a great weekend and we'll see you next time.
Gavin Grimes: Thanks, Adrian. Bye, everyone.