For this next instalment of our “Getting to know us” series, we sat down with our Account Manager Marek Malec to ask him a few thought-provoking questions. During his four years as part of the AST team, Marek’s role at the company has certainly evolved. Let’s find out a bit more about his background, his everyday life at work and what he likes to do to unwind in his free time.
I’ve always enjoyed languages and learning about other cultures. Meeting people from different countries has always been a huge part of my life, especially after I moved to England. I’d say that I didn’t really learn English, it just happened spontaneously. I was 12 years old when I arrived in the UK and had to pick it up quite quickly so as not to fall behind at school. In my first year here, I started learning German and French. I found French pretty difficult, but German just kind of made sense, and it wasn’t long until I was stringing sentences together.
They say that you enjoy doing what you’re good at, so I continued with German at University, and can honestly say that my year abroad in Innsbruck was the best year of my life. Before that, I wasn’t sure what I’d like to do, but after truly experiencing the culture of a German-speaking country, I knew I’d made the right choice in my studies.
In a nutshell, it involves project management and sales. I speak with clients and translators and come up with solutions to suit all parties where possible. Where this is not viable, it’s important to keep trying until you find a solution or compromise on an acceptable way forward. My duties have expanded to include not only the senior project management role, but also to being the first contact for our UK-based clients and handling sales alongside some additional projects. I’m the person who speaks to our customers and makes sure our relationships stay strong and positive. This sometimes includes visiting the client’s office to outline our processes and develop bespoke solutions for larger projects. I agree that my approach to sales is different than most, as my background stems from project management, which means I have a lot of knowledge about the ins and outs of translation.
There are two things here, and I’m not sure whether I can choose between them. I love using languages every day. It’s not just the fact that I’m able to improve (though that’s certainly a great motivation), but also the satisfaction of having reached a level where I can think in multiple languages. It’s a great feeling when you pick up a call from someone abroad and are able to respond to them in their native language – people really appreciate that and I think it goes a long way to improve communications.
I also get to work with intelligent people who support each other when needed, and together we’re able to come up with solid plans and creative solutions, often when a project might seem almost impossible at first. I like the atmosphere in the office and the fact that everything feels like a team effort.
I want to say – break the rules. Not in the sense of not following procedure, of course, but thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions. This is a vital part of project management. Looking for different ways to solve a problem is part of the challenge, and taking things at face value sometimes just doesn’t quite cut the mustard. There is some degree of flexibility in project management and it’s important to make good use of it. So just keep in mind you have some control over handling each project.
Most importantly, taking on board what others say. This helps in maintaining a good relationship, which can never hurt if pressure starts to build. Knowing how much time a translator has, what tools they have at their disposal and what they enjoy the most makes it far easier to see each job through to the end.
As project managers we need to be silently aware of how much work we offer to our translators (nobody is thrilled to be put on the spot with 20,000 words to be translated within a day). This means we have to be effective, not only at communicating with our translators, but also among ourselves. I think as long as we have our eyes and ears open, we are pretty good at keeping everyone happy.
There have been plenty, so it’s hard to pick one. Landing the job, getting my own desk, becoming part of the team, my first German phone call – they all seem like small victories, but they’re all special in their own way.
But I think nothing beats the feeling when a client recognises they can trust you with their work. It can be as simple as addressing you directly with their request, or as complex as working with them for an extended period of time to achieve a massive goal. It’s always important to me and very motivating to see I’ve been able to see their project through.
Hitting things. I’m a drummer, and there’s nothing that relieves stress as well as playing along to a good song at the end of the day. It’s been my hobby since I first tried it when I was seven years old, and while it’ll sound cliché, for me it’s a matter of a simple equation. Drumming is life. Why else would your heart have a beat?
Profound words and food for thought to round off our interview with Marek. We hope you enjoyed reading about and getting to know him. Stay tuned as we’ll be bringing you another instalment to this series soon as we present another member of our team.