Welcome to the first interview of the brand new series Found in Translation! This set of interviews aims to show a different perspective on the translation industry by giving a voice to its actors who have had an unusual path and were found in translation. Indeed, as they were little or studying, they didn’t dream of a world filled with languages, but of something else. Through this series, we will be learning more about their previous lives and how that has helped them being successful in their translation career, how they see translation and how they managed to learn the necessary skills without taking the academic route.
Today, my guest is Thea Hutchings. Thea is a motivated and experienced Director of Production at WordWorks Media, adept in localisation planning and global project management. She has a genuine passion for language and learning and thoroughly enjoys the production process. Her CPD interests are Law and Forensics, Language from a cultural understanding, and she has just embarked on the PRINCE2® Foundation course. She’s responsible for creating the world’s catchiest tune ever, in six different languages.
Hello, Thea! I’m glad to have you as the very first interviewee on my new series. Can you tell the readers who you are and explain what your current job is?
Hi Emeline, thanks very much for having me.
My name is Thea Hutchings and I’m Director of Production at WordWorks Media, in London. WordWorks is a multilingual reversioning company specialising in localisation, foreign voiceover and subtitling and I manage the day-to-day projects and oversee the teams responsible.
Let’s go back a couple of years… What did you envision as your future career when you were a child?
My childhood was quite bohemian – surrounded by filmmakers, music, installation artists, photography etc. I had a camera in my hand from the time I was 4, so I always assumed I’d have a career in photography.
When I was in my late teens however, I started working in a corporate photographic studio and soon realised it wasn’t for me. A friend who is now a very successful camerawoman told me I’d be happier in a more creative environment, so in the late nineties I started my first ‘tele’ job at Nickelodeon.
However, fate had its way and the reality turned out quite different. Tell us, how were you found in translation?
Well, after several years working in television and then in sports production, in 2011 I was asked by a recruiter I knew if I could recommend anyone for the position of a ‘remote project manager’ for an LSP based in London. Working from home fitted in with my childcare needs at that time and so I recommended myself! I became their full time Head of Production and a company Director, soon after.
Having no translation academic background, how did you learn about the ins and outs of the industry?
That’s an interesting question. I like to think I’m still learning! The disciplines of translation project managing are actually very similar to those of television production. You have an end product you need to work towards, whether that’s a programme, a series or a foreign language sales tape. You have a budget to stick to and there’s always a deadline to take into account. I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is that working across time zones – where people might not be reading your email until you are asleep – means you must have great ‘first time’ attention to detail, otherwise mistakes become very costly and time consuming.
I’m also a firm believer in learning from any mistakes I make and listening to others, too. Asking someone more experienced than you – and no matter how high up the ‘ladder’ you go, there’s always someone who knows more, can help fill in any gaps in your knowledge. No one can be an expert on everything. Never be afraid to ask.
Do you think that your previous career turned to your advantage in the end?
Yes. Although I don’t see a previous career in a different industry as a disadvantage. There are lots of crossovers from production to project managing. I think all our previous experiences are valuable in shaping who we are both in and out of work.
I am a voracious CPD-er though! Part time / online / night courses are a great way of filling those knowledge gaps and giving you further insight into a new area of expertise. Future Learn, Udemy and Open University are some my favourite course providers. I’m also a Digital Volunteer for the Smithsonian archive project, which is utterly fascinating.
What can we wish for you for the future?
It’s been a very busy couple of years for the team at WordWorks. Reuters, Pink Squid and Discovery Networks have been added to the growing list of clients and a multi language top-secret film, completed! Translation is an ever-changing and evolving industry as you know, and I love being a part of it. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into some new and interesting projects – after a Summer holiday though.