Localization Leaders
Localization Leaders

Localization Leaders: Meet Glovo’s Stefania Russo

In our latest Localization Leader interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Stefania Russo, Head of UX Content at Glovo. Glovo is a growing Spain-based delivery app serving customers in 25 countries throughout Europe, Western Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Listen in on our conversation with Stefania where she shared insights from her 18 years of industry experience, including best practices for building a localization team and establishing localization and content as key business stakeholders. 

Read the full interview, or watch the videocast below: 

Can you start by telling us a little bit about your career path and how you ended up in your current position as the Head of UX Content at Glovo? 

My career started around 18 years ago as an in-house translator in a software company. After some time, I moved from the in-house side to the language service provider side where I worked for a combined seven years between TransPerfect and Acolad. 

After that, I returned to the client side and worked at FedEx logistics company as a Senior Localization Specialist, focusing on product and marketing localization, implementing a translation management system (TMS), and working with all the internal stakeholders there. 

After some years at FedEx, I moved to Booking.com as a Language Process Lead where I was in charge of implementing a translation management system (TMS) and other language technology to streamline language processes, so my focus was more on the tech side of localization.

Around three years ago, I came back to Barcelona and joined Glovo as the Head of Localization and the UX writing team. And here I am, still at Glovo and enjoying it. 

What role does localization play at Glovo? And how is your team or department structured? 

At Glovo, localization and UX writing fall under the UX content team, which is part of the UX organization within the product department. In my time at Glovo, my main objective has been trying to elevate the role of localization and content in general. 

As you can imagine, content is not generally considered an important craft like product management, design, or development. But of course, content plays a key role in the overall user experience. The example I usually give when I have to pitch for the importance of localization is to imagine an application without words. It can have the best features and the latest design, but users cannot really interact with it. 

Of course, the role of the localization team is to make sure that all the necessary pieces of content are translated and localized in the supported languages. 

But beyond that, in order to elevate the role of localization, we have always dedicated time and defined specific objectives and key results (OKRs) to work on initiatives that are key for the business, especially from the internationalization and UX localization points of view. 

Throughout these last few years, my team has positioned ourselves as the guardians of international users, because as you can imagine, everyone always thinks of English and English users interacting with English content. We have always tried to shift that focus. 

In the beginning, for instance, my team was only involved when there were issues such as, “Oh, this translation is too long.” 

Now, after not only educational work, but real hands-on collaboration with design, product, tech, and the rest of our stakeholders, we are really considered stakeholders at Glovo. 

Whenever there is an important feature being developed, we are involved in design reviews during the ideation session. It’s not perfect, but I can say that the positioning of the localization team has considerably improved in the past three years. 

You’ve already touched on it, but many localization professionals struggle with gaining budget and recognition of localization’s importance. Do you have any tips for localization managers looking to demonstrate the value of localization?   

Yes – one thing that I did from the very beginning was gather data. When you are in a tech environment, if you don’t speak the same language as managers, then you won’t be considered as crucial and important at higher levels. 

So, the first thing I did was gather data about the number of users who were using our products in English versus other languages. When you actually have those numbers and dashboards, which take a long time to gather, and you show them to upper management, then of course they start realizing the impact that your work is having on the product and the business. 

Another tip that I found useful was creating a mind map of all the stakeholders. For instance, we were in the product department, but we interact with all sorts of stakeholders from marketing, brand, and local teams – so really localization is a very central point across all the departments. I asked each of our stakeholders, “What are your challenges? What is your main frustration around content?” This way, I could be sure that translation and localization were not considered a black hole our stakeholders send something to and then receive localized content back without knowing exactly what happened. 

When we define OKRs for the year, we always need to make an effort to link our localization OKRs to the business ones. It’s a challenge because localization contributes to literally everything. 

Every feature that’s developed is going to be localized, but it’s at least important to find a couple of initiatives of higher importance for the business and product. Make sure to update upper management with the results of what you are contributing to. 

Whenever there is an important initiative, there will likely be a monthly or quarterly business review. If you are contributing to that review and can represent your craft, that will really help you gain visibility and credibility. 

At the end of the day, what we are trying to do as localization leaders is make sure that the rest of the business sees localization as a growth lever. Without good localization, your business cannot be in international markets. Another big role of localization teams is to elevate the user experience. We care about the users in the countries where the brand wants to do business. 

Last but not least, localization teams are usually smaller in size so it’s important to educate your colleagues. For instance, we organize several lightning talks and small workshops with developers and designers to make sure that some basic concepts can get through. The daily work is where you can really show the impact that you are making.

Are there any markets that you found particularly challenging to break into for one reason or another? 

There are always challenges with different types of markets depending on the product or service that you’re trying to provide to the country. For instance, last year we launched a machine translation service for our product catalog, meaning that we can machine translate the restaurant menus or the grocery shopping list into the user’s device language. That content is usually only available in the country’s local language because it’s uploaded directly by partners. 

This project started because it was customers’ number one pain point in countries like Armenia and Georgia which have a higher number of expats who couldn’t read the local language. So we developed this initiative with these two countries as the top priority. 

Georgian and Armenian aren’t very common for machine translation, so we had to collaborate with our local teams there to successfully implement the feature and demonstrate the impact over and over again. 

It was a constant demonstration of “these are the results month over month” and “thanks to these features, we are increasing the number of orders in the country and contributing to the improvement in sales.”

There is not much material or data available for language models in Georgian and Armenian, so translating them into English and Russian (which is highly spoken in both countries) was very challenging since those are difficult language combinations. Gaining trust from users in Georgia and Armenia isn’t easy. It requires a lot of effort, but we are on a good path. 

Do you have any advice for global brands that want to build a localization team for the first time? 

I don’t think I’m saying anything new here, but I would really love to see global brands think about localization in a strategic way. Don’t hire a translator or a project manager first just to make sure that you close the gap and translate your content as soon as possible without actually thinking much about it. 

Hiring a translator or a project manager is necessary, but you also need a leader who can really speak the same language as the management and work together with upper management to establish localization as a pivotal role in the company’s expansion into other markets. 

That’s the dream that we all have in the localization industry. It does happen sometimes. I know some companies really value establishing proper localization, but many other companies just try to fill the gap. And so I wish that the amount of companies that think about localization as a growth lever and in a strategic way will increase over time. 

Thanks for your input, Stefania. Let’s move on to our rapid-fire questions to get to know you a little bit better. First question, what is your favorite language?  

Spanish. I’m biased. I’ve been living here in Spain for many years. 

And your favorite localization tool? 

I would say Phrase. So far, it’s my favorite. 

What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to? 

Sweden…and I’m looking forward to visiting Denmark this summer. I really like Nordic countries. 

What’s the best localization advice you’ve ever received? 

Always be open to change, and look at challenges as opportunities to learn. And of course, try to break the localization silo by talking to your stakeholders. 

What’s the most successful market you’ve invested in? 

Connected to what we were discussing before, I would say Georgia or Armenia. It’s been a really interesting project this past year. 

And what would you say is your localization nightmare? 

There are a few. The typical requests like “Oh, we need to make this content more catchy or friendly.” Or that local teams don’t like the translation because they sound robotic and require a lot of editing, that’s a recurring nightmare. 

And do you have anyone who you’d say is your localization role model? 

I really like Nataly Kelly’s content because I find it super inspiring and she is always talking about localization in a broader way. 

Lastly, which brand is your localization crush?

Airbnb and Spotify are doing a great job, so I always look at them as inspiration. 

Before we go, are there any localization projects that you have coming up at Glovo that you want us to look out for? 

This past year has been pretty intense with our new machine translation process. This year, we are continuing to improve the solution for the product and the machine translation itself.

We look forward to seeing Glovo’s continued growth. Thank you so much again, Stefania, for taking the time to speak with me. 

author post

Corinne Sharabi

Corinne is the Social Media and Content Lead at BLEND. She is dedicated to keeping global business professionals up to date on all things localization, translation, language and culture.


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