| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Winning team
The winning team from the recent localization case competition in action: left to right, Dayna Brown MATLM ’24, Jingwen (Jasmine) Huang MATLM ’23, Peixi Ren MATLM ’23, and Tianxing (Star) Tang MATLM ’23.

In what one of the judges termed “a great example of how academia and the real world intersect,” Middlebury Institute localization students recently organized and participated in a business case competition designed to hone their expertise in managing localization initiatives.

“If I didn’t know otherwise, I would have thought they were real localization teams presenting to upper management at a real company planning a three-year international marketing and management plan,” said competition judge Janice Campbell MAICC ’79, former senior program manager at Adobe and director/track chair at the Association for Machine Translation.

Modeled on MBA case competitions in which teams are given a business problem to address in a mock strategy presentation to management, the competition invited students in the Institute’s MA in Translation and Localization Management (TLM) program to present their proposed localization strategies for a fictional international business to a six-judge panel of industry professionals. Localization is the process of adapting the content related to an idea, service, or product to the language and culture of a specific market or region, including translation, associated imagery, cultural elements, and more.

The competition’s winning team of TLM students, Dayna Brown MA ’24, Jingwen (Jasmine) Huang MA ’23, Peixi Ren MA ’23, and Tianxing (Star) Tang MA ’23, loved having the opportunity “to show our creativity and test our ideas to address real-world professional challenges and incorporate feedback from industry leaders and peers.”

“We were elated when we found out the outcome,” shared the winning team, “and we are thankful to the organizing committee, judges, and peer teams for their excellent work. We take pride in being representatives of MIIS and showcasing our localization expertise to prove we are ready to take on the industry!”

“All of the presentations and presenters had a high level of professionalism,” says judge Edith Bendermacher, director of Globalization Strategy and Localization Operations at NetApp. “My favorite part was when students went the extra mile and added things like competitive analysis, what not to do, and ChatGPT as components of their solutions.”

First-Time Competition Centered on Real World Scenarios

The two-stage competition—which included a preliminary round of seven teams and 27 students, followed three weeks later by a final round of four teams and 16 students—was designed and coordinated by a student committee consisting of Min Chua, Nina Hampton, Cecilia Lin, Aurora Wang, and Ellie Wu (all MATLM ’23), supported by faculty advisor Professor Yelena Proskurin MATLM ’14.

The idea for the competition was inspired by Min Chua’s experiences with case study competitions when she studied business as an undergraduate. She thought it could be interesting to apply that to the field of localization.

“We’re hoping to continue it next year and working to recruit some first year-students,” said Chua. “We hope it will continue after we graduate.”

Student organizing committee
The student organizing committee for the localization case competition celebrates a successful event: left to right, Min Chua, Cecilia Lin, Ellie Wu, Nina Hampton, Aurora Wang (all MATLM ’23).

“I hope the participants observed that there are many different ways to approach the same problem,” says Proskurin. “Likewise, when leadership is asking rigorous questions, it is not because the idea is bad; on the contrary, it is because they like the idea and they are testing your confidence.”

This competition gave me the rare opportunity to get a sneak peek at what our students will bring to the companies where they choose to work. I have never been more proud to call myself their professor!
— Professor Yelena Proskurin

The winning team says that, in addition to having the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to a simulated business case, they learned a lot about planning work with machine translation, localizing different forms of media content, and the importance of closely collaborating with content and localization engineers to ensure a smooth product launch.

The full slate of judges included Bendermacher, Campbell, Proskurin, Nora Duong MATLM ’20 (senior localization manager at Tesla), Hilary Atkisson Normanha (senior program manager, Internationalization, at Spotify), and Carolina Salazar (localization program manager at Khan Academy).

Competition Broadens Students’ Professional Horizons

The competition offered Brown, Huang, Ren, and Tang a preview of their future careers, while also broadening their professional horizons. 

Many of the team would like to pursue careers in localization project management, saying they “hope to be movers and shakers in the localization industry and put our innovation into practice.”

Campbell agrees about the value the competition offered for student participants. “These kinds of competitions reflect what actual localization teams do: ideate, strategize, and plan ways to support business growth. It’s great practice for students who will soon enter the working world.”

For her part, Proskurin is delighted with the outcome of the competition. “As faculty, we usually don’t get to see how our graduates apply the knowledge they have gained after they leave the program. This competition gave me the rare opportunity to get a sneak peek at what our students will bring to the companies where they choose to work. I have never been more proud to call myself their professor!”