What skills must a project manager have?
Thread poster: jankar

May 10, 2016


i have finished my Master Degree in Translation and want to know more about the job "project manager translation" . I am really interested in it and it would be great if someone could tell me more about the job in general.

Thanks in advance


Achmad Fuad Lubis  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (2015)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
<b>Project Manager Competences</b> May 11, 2016

Hi Jankar, welcome to the translation business. As a Project Manager in a translation business is more than just a skilled or certified translator, a managerial know-how and skills are essential. I recommend the following reference text which you might browse on line or purchase:
Hope this reference would be useful.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:23
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
PM skills May 11, 2016

You need to be very responsive: clients need to be reassured very quickly that they will get a good translation in no time for almost as little money, and translators will be fighting for more money and more time, and to obtain both or either will threaten compromise on quality. The PM acts as a buffer between the two (not forgetting the sales guy who'll be intervening on behalf of the client too). You need to be on the ball, you need just enough knowledge of source languages to be able to quickly find the right translator for the job (bearing in mind the language combo, the field, the money available etc.). You need to be able to produce estimates and POs and write flawlessly at all times, lest a silly mistake make the agency look sloppy. You need to be diplomatic and it's better not to have to pick your kids up at a set time because emergencies always crop up the minute you reach for your coat. Knowing how to cope with stress is a great asset, people skills are of the essence. If you're outgoing, it can help.

The skills are totally different to those of the typically introverted translator, and it's really quite sad that so many translators prefer to work as PMs because they waste their skills and often end up getting burned out.

Sorry that sounds quite negative. I didn't enjoy that job, mostly because my boss was a total jerk but also because of the stress. The only part I enjoyed was interaction with translators, I learned a lot about translation from them and several of them became good friends.


Nancy Matis  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:23
English to French
+ ...
References on TPM Nov 13, 2017

Dear all,

First of all, thank you to Achmad for having referenced my book hereicon_smile.gif.
I also wanted to add that I wrote a few articles on Translation Project Management, most of them being published on LIn:

And maybe, Jankar, would you be interested in reading this one:
"Translation Project Managers and Translators share many skills".

If you have any question, do not hesitate.

Best regards
Nancy Matis


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You should NOT be a wannabe translator! Nov 13, 2017

Diplomacy and being able to explain to clients what is possible and what is not possible!
An ability to negotiate, so that clients get what they need, even if it is not exactly what they originally imagined.
Being organised and able to make the best of the time available when deadlines really are tight.

I once thanked one of my all-time favourite PMs for doing all the work I did not like doing myself - negotiating with clients, sorting the formatting or getting the DTP people to do it, coordinating my English text with all the other languages when that had to be done. When she took care of all that, I could translate in peace...

She replied ' You're welcome. Those are the jobs I like! I don't have the patience to translate properly, so really I am grateful to you translators for doing the work I find boring!'

It can be an enormous help if the project manager has at least tried translating, and knows where the difficulties crop up, but it is not absolutely vital. The other skills are more important, and a good translator is not necessarily a good project manager.


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