Insight of AI inside’s Bilingual Communicator
Collaborating with members from 12 different countries
Hi, I’m Yamasaki from the PR team of AI inside. In April 2021, we opened a new “Bilingual Communicator” position. As the first Bilingual Communicator here, my job is to facilitate Japanese-English communication and maximize collaboration among members and units. I would like to introduce my role, what I keep in mind and what I would like to challenge in the future.
Aiming to become the global №1 AI Platform
AI inside aims to become the global №1 AI platform company with the mission of “to bring AI to every being in the world and contribute to a richer future society.” Global expansion has been a focus, especially from 2021, and we are increasing our efforts to become the global №1, including multilingual support for our products and expansion of global partners.
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Members of various nationalities working in different positions
The movement toward globalization is also ongoing within the company. About 20% of our full-time employees are non-Japanese and members from 12 countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and India. They work in various positions, including development, design, sales, corporate planning, and customer service. Some members work in Japan, while others work remotely from their home countries.
Being a Bilingual Communicator at AI inside
Many of our foreign members mainly use English for their day-to-day communication, although several foreign members speak Japanese. As the Bilingual Communicator, I am working to facilitate internal Japanese-English communication as well as improve the English proficiency of the entire company.
Interpretation at meetings and workshop sessions
We have many company-wide meetings, including weekly meetings on Mondays, quarterly all-hands, and workshop sessions that are held on multiple occasions. Interpretation is provided via Slack to enable foreign members, as well as Japanese members, would understand the content. This lets participants keep track of the presentations in real-time and participate in the interactive Q&A sessions. Even if they cannot attend the meeting live, they can go through the shared documents and Slack interpretation and catch up on the content later.
In addition, an Off-Site Meeting is held once a quarter per division for a full day to share each unit’s strategies and achievements and to discuss, workshop, and lecture on how to solve problems. A Bilingual Communicator is also present on these occasions in case foreign members are participating.
Translation for in-house documentation
The Bilingual Communicator is also the one to translate meeting documents, text displayed on the product’s UI, Slack messages, and internal regulation documents. We try to make sure to share documents in both Japanese and English before the presentation, especially when they are planned to be screen-shared.
External communication in Japanese and English
Our website is available in both Japanese and English, and our press releases, blog, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts are also provided in English. We consider these as sources not only for people outside the company but also for our members to know what is happening at AI inside. We will continue to provide information in both languages to help our members understand the company.
Three tips for working as a Bilingual Communicator
Now, I’d like to share three things I have learned and kept in mind as a Bilingual Communicator over the past year.
1. Don’t make the translation too literal, but make it natural and easier to understand
Not only do I translate what the speaker says, but I also go beyond by adding information and choosing the right words based on the background information, such as the company’s strategy or the speaker’s character. This is because literal translation doesn’t always deliver the speech’s main points. In such cases, I first understand the content myself and then translate it in a way that would be easier for the other person to understand; for example, by summarizing the content and putting the conclusion first, followed by the reason for it.
2. The unique Japanese culture of “Honne and Tatemae” does not work with non-Japanese people
Using “Honne (true feelings) and Tatemae (publicly stated opinions)” is a common and unique style of Japanese communication, which often leads to misunderstandings among people from non-Japanese backgrounds. That is why I sometimes add explanations of what the Japanese speaker is implying when I translate comments made during meetings or Slack messages.
3. Additional efforts could be necessary for deeper understanding and next actions
For important meetings or long meetings such as the Off-Site Meetings mentioned above, I try to translate meeting materials in advance and sometimes arrange a pre-meeting for input so that everyone can participate in the discussion on the day of the meeting. Even after the meeting, we set up a wrap-up session to organize and supplement the content and discuss the next actions, as necessary.
Working on further diversity
Although I feel that the level of my interpretation still needs to be improved and innovations need to be made, I have already received positive feedback from members about the activities of the Bilingual Communicator.
・We feel more integrated with the company with the real-time translation of major events.
・Thank you for translating our internal announcements so quickly, even when we hadn’t had the chance to discuss them beforehand, and I’m very impressed that your meeting translation went above and beyond what we had asked for!
From now on, I would like to take action on issues I have and will notice through my job, even outside the communication aspect. For example, in terms of working style, there are differences between Japanese and non-Japanese members in standards of what is considered normal and how work is done, so we are considering measures to make both parties feel comfortable working together. I would like to contribute to promoting diversity and inclusion in the company and help everyone work happily.
I also see it as my mission as a Bilingual Communicator to improve the English language skills of the members of our company. As we aim to become a global company, our Japanese members will eventually need to learn to communicate in English. We have already seen many of them using translation apps to communicate with non-Japanese members via Slack, but I would like to work further to improve the English language skills of the entire company.
Please look forward to updates on our internal globalization efforts as we move forward with our global business expansion!
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