Experts Ignite: Madhuri Hegde

In this edition of Indus, we speak to one of the finest minds in the field of language and translation business. A perfectionist, Madhuri Hegde,  eloquently and suavely leveraged her love for languages to build Mayflower Language Services. As the CEO of Mayflower Language Services, she mentors like-minded individuals to strive for perfection without compromising on quality.

Mayflower Language Services is considered as one of the top translation companies. What would you consider to the keys to both your success and survival?

As Peter Drucker says, “ The result of a business is a satisfied customer.” This principle has always been at the core of Mayflower’s business strategy. We have focused on sincerely delivering value to our clients, enabled by dedicated and engaged personnel, informed decision-making, adapting ourselves to market demands and most importantly, taking pride in the success of our clients’ business. I admit,  it hasn’t been smooth-sailing all along. Focus, resilience, and perseverance have paid off.

Was there a major turning point or pivotal period in the company’s history that defined its course and ultimately led you to where you are today?

We started off with game localization and testing in 2003. The language services industry in India at that point was much unorganized. We had a first-mover advantage  as a company that knows its trade inside out.  Our growth plan included milestones to reach at specific points and we are grateful to have been able to cross each one of those successfully. Most importantly, we have been keeping track of market trends over the years and adapting our strategy and services to be in tune with market reality. For instance, in 2011, we introduced multilingual media monitoring and content curating for FMCG clients, to help them track market response to their products in various geographies. There aren’t many Indian companies offering this in multiple languages. This ability to adapt and innovate is what sets us apart.

With the advent of SaaS products,  are you prepared for any radical shift in the whole language services business?

As attention spans get shorter, concise formats, smart content management, and delivery systems now integrate seamlessly with translation management and automation systems. SaaS is soon becoming part of  our daily life. The radical shift in the way language services are evaluated and delivered is clearly visible – be it Adobe using a SaaS platform to decentralize its crowd-sourced translations, or a large retail client  integrating their content management system with a SaaS-based translation management system to receive seamless, real-time, continuous translations, and global delivery. Even Google Translate has a SaaS-based version that corporate can use via an API to generate high-volume machine translations that are later  edited by human translators for final use. Mayflower has already adopted SaaS-based technologies, to deliver fast and customized service to our preferred clients,  such as translation workflow management, post-edited machine translation, CRM, agile delivery system, real-time continuous localization, and more.  The language translation industry is possibly an ideal market for SaaS. However, most SaaS products targeted at this industry today, still fall behind expectation in terms of interoperability, performance, and information security. We expect that to change rapidly over the next few years.

To all those budding entrepreneurs or folks in small startups, could you share couple of best practices approaches that Mayflower follows?

Being an entrepreneur is like being a jack of all trades,  you are hands-on and have to do everything yourself for the first year or so. You make decisions, change direction on the fly, deal with self-doubt, set up processes that you think are right, experiment with ideas, and many more. You discover along the way that once you start hiring and growing, you need the right people to complement your skills. You need to empower and trust them to do a better  job. At Mayflower, we began aligning people to our business objectives. Our business prospers when our people know what they are doing and why they are doing it. As Mayflower grew, our teams kept looking at the top for decisions. It became imperative to delegate and to empower people to make their own decisions. This has helped us immensely as teams take ownership, and deliver on their commitments. Having a customer-centric approach to processes has ensured everyone at Mayflower works toward client satisfaction.

Share a story of Mayflower turning a satisfied customer into a completely satisfied customer.

One customer comes to mind particularly – this is a US-based firm that was struggling to get their product documentation right. Mayflower was roped in to take care of localization for the French and German markets. With a crunched turnaround time, we delivered to the satisfaction of the customer. Once their immediate need was taken care of, we provided the customer with an analysis of their source documentation and how they could achieve major cost savings by adopting simple changes in how they approached their documentation. The customer was very happy with our analysis, and we trained their entire documentation team on how localization works and how to create global-ready content. We went from being “a localization vendor” to “our localization partner”. We have been delivering value to this customer for the last 4 years and are still going strong.

Finally, what are the skills and capabilities a language expert should have?

The first thing you look for in a good language expert  ( linguistic proficiency in her native language being a given) is professionalism. Respect for timelines, knowledge of CAT tools, good communication skills, good editing skills, subject matter expertise in a particular domain – are what makes one stand apart from the crowd. Knowledge of terminology management and localization processes is a plus.

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