Getting to Know Naroa Lasarte, Project Manager at On Global

Naroa is senior project manager at On Global. On a daily basis, she manages more than thirty translators and works with multiple customers mostly from the automotive industry. At On Global, Naroa also plays a key role when onboarding new clients, either by establishing new workflows or specifying processes and standards.


How did you get into languages first?

It all started when I was a kid, mainly because in the Basque country we start studying English since we are four years old. But it also has to do with me and my personality, because I love traveling, meeting new people and cultures.


My first experience abroad was to the United Kingdom when I was eleven years old. A friend of my family used to organize summer trips so I asked my parents if I could do one myself. Then again, when I was sixteen, I went to study a year abroad in the Catskill mountains, in New York (US).


What languages can you speak?

I consider Basque to be my mother tongue, but I feel my Spanish is native too. I speak in Basque to most of my friends and family, but I was exposed to Spanish from a very young age, through school and television. I also speak English, Catalan and French I lived in the south of France for one year.


What was your first job?

It was a summer job. I worked in the production line of a factory in the Basque country which manipulated rubber that was then used for manufacturing cars. I worked there for four straight summers.


And your first job in the translations industry?

It was an internship for the Association of translators, correctors and interpreters for Basque language (EIZIE) that was coordinated by my University — the University of the Basque Country, in Vitoria-gasteiz.


I must say it was a great experience. There I got the chance to meet a lot of translators from the Basque Country. As a matter of fact, back then I got to work with Arantzazu Royo; and now I am reading “Hutsegiteen garaia”, a book written by Mohamed Xukri and translated by her from Arabic into Basque! 


What is your favorite thing about working in On Global?

It is not just one thing, but rather a mix.


The team spirit is definitely there, not only during work but also outside! Just a few weeks ago we went for a calçotada altogether. In a calçotada (a gastronomic feast typical of the western region of Catalonia) we eat calçots, a variety of onion roasted directly on the flames and eaten by hand. They are delicious because they are seasoned with a special sauce, the salvitxada, which is similar to romesco sauce.


Workwise, I value that we are a young team full of opportunities for learning about different companies and industries, as well as translation itself. I also love how techy driven we are. I came to Barcelona a few years ago to do a masters degree in translation technology and I was lucky enough to find a company like On Global where I have been able to put into practice everything I had learned.


What is your view on machine translation?

I did the thesis of my masters degree in machine translation, more specifically on the application it has on the Basque language.


Let’s be honest, everyone knows translators don’t see machine translation very positively, many believe translation companies only care about costs. But the truth is machine translation could be business relevant and user-friendly on some specific projects within certain vertical markets and language pairs with extremely tight deadlines.


We have to be honest though. It doesn’t work with all the language combinations. For Basque, the output is not really business-useful and the post-editing efforts could compare to translating from scratch. Yet, I would encourage translators not be to be so against it.


It can be your friend or enemy, you choose it.


How would you describe On Global?

I think On Global is a great company both to work for and collaborate with. It’s a very supportive and friendly working environment and I think this is reflected in the work we do for our clients. I feel very lucky!


What would be your advice for someone starting out in the company?

I would tell them to absorb as much they can from their teammates and to be courageous to take on new projects. I would also explain to them that there are different career paths and that being a translator is very different from being a project manager.  


What else?… To be ready to keep calm under stress, because we work with very tight deadlines, and for those who choose project management to embrace multitasking.


What three traits define you?

Friendly. Detailed-oriented. I learn from my mistakes fast.


When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy reading and discovering new places. I also used to play the piano, but ever since I moved to Barcelona, I haven’t been able to do so.


Lightning-round questions

  • Comedy or drama? Drama
  • Summer or winter? Summer in the Basque country / Winter in Barcelona.
  • TV shows or movies? TV shows
  • Print books or ebooks? Print books
  • British or American English? British
  • At a movie: candy or popcorn? Candy
  • For vacation: sea or mountains? Sea
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee


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