For our latest Q&A, I spoke to Alex Stolyar, a project coordinator who works in our Varna office. She started at Sandberg late last year, along with two other project coordinators. Her full name is Oleksandra, but she goes by Alex.

Which languages do you speak, Alex?
Bulgarian, English, Russian and Ukrainian, and a bit of French, I guess, though maybe not enough that counts! I was born in Ukraine, and I’m Russian by nationality.

Where did you grow up?
In Odessa, it’s a city on the Black Sea. Similar to Varna, but bigger. I’ve lived in Bulgaria on and off, I left and then I came back, so altogether I’d say six years.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Well, I didn’t exactly have a dream job, but I always knew I was going to be connected to languages in some way. I wanted to be a translator at one point, an interpreter, but then suddenly I changed my mind. But hey, I’m still working in the translation industry. I didn’t have an exact job in mind, I guess.

So you’d call yourself a bit of a language nerd?
Yeah, maybe. I’m a grammar Nazi for sure, but I’m [mostly] interested in cultures.

What was your first job?
My very first one was here in Bulgaria, in Varna. I was a hostess in a hotel in Golden Sands. It was a five-star hotel, and I was a hostess for four months. It was hard because we would work twelve hours straight – two days’ work, two days’ rest. It was tough, so obviously I made up my mind not to work in the hospitality industry.

How did you go from hospitality to working in the translation industry?
It’s been quite a ride! I always wanted to do something with languages. I didn’t exactly want to be a translator into Russian, maybe once a long time ago, but now not really. I just wanted to try something different. Before Sandberg, I was working at an IT company doing customer support, but that’s totally different from what I do now.

What does a normal day look like for a project manager at Sandberg?
Coffee. I need my coffee and then I can start the day!

We receive projects from the client that we need to set up in our system, prepare in the CAT tool (Trados Studio or memoQ, for example), optimise as best possible for the linguist, and we send out purchase orders, keep in constant contact with the client and linguist, answer queries from all possible sides. And in the meantime, we also handle old projects from previous days.

We also have meetings with other teams, vendor management and client services. There’s also approving projects for invoicing, so a lot of stuff!

What’s the most important quality for a good project manager?
There are a lot of things a good project manager should have. Attention to detail is important. Patience.

Finding the time for everything is also super important; time tracking. Sometimes the whole process can swamp you, but you need to keep an eye on things because you have several projects ongoing at the same time and you can’t be engulfed by one.

Multitasking is another very important thing! It’s hard to pick just one.

What is your favourite part of your role?
Getting my coffee! Delivering the projects, on time with great quality, without any issues. That’s the best, best thing.

Any advice for new people starting out in the industry?
My advice would be not to panic and not to get stressed by all the stuff, because it’s a lot. I’ve been panicking myself, but you just need to get past it and you’ll be alright after some time!

Machine translation – friend or foe?
From the training I’ve had, I understand that if the MT is good, then it’s good for the linguist. It can increase productivity and then it’s a friend. When proper MT is used for the proper job, then it’s definitely a friend.

If you could do any other job for a week, what would it be?
Testing beaches in different countries. I’d get cocktails and read a book. I like to chill!

If you could wake up and be fluent in a new language, what would it be?
French. I’ve always wanted to speak French. I’ve been studying French all my life and I’m still not fluent!

What’s your favourite word?
Bulgarian is a foreign language to me. I really like the word гушкам (guškam), “to hug”. Slavs tend to make words smaller and cuter, especially in Russian. Гуши (guši) is a short version of this word and I really like it, I use it a lot at home!

My mother tongue, so to speak, is Russian. Ukrainian is a bit harder for me even though I was born there. But they’re so different. People say Bulgarian is like Russian, but that’s not true. I mean the Slavic languages are all similar, but still different.

People born in Odessa like me speak Russian mainly. But now with the political situation it’s a bit more complicated, I suppose.

What’s something about you that surprises people?
When I was smaller, I moved to the United Arab Emirates. I can’t speak Arabic though, I can only write my name.

People at work know me as a positive person, but once I showed up really tired and moody and everyone was asking if I was sick!

Describe yourself in three words.
Positive, international, sociable. I like to be around people. If I was working from home I’d go crazy!

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can do origami, but only flowers, so I’m not sure that’s a talent! I can rollerblade pretty well and iceskate. I broke my hand when I was little, but that didn’t stop me. When my cast was removed, the first thing I did was go back and rollerblade.

It’s fika time. Tea or coffee?
Coffee, with milk and sugar.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
To go to the beach and have drinks and see friends and listen to good music. It’s summer, that’s all I can think about right now. I like winter too though, I prefer the cold to the heat. In winter we often go to the beach as well, just with coffee.

How do you unwind at the end of a long day?
I like to watch TV shows just to chill. I recently started watching Stranger Things. It’s good, really interesting. Before that I watched Game of Thrones. I was really disappointed by the last series! I recommend trying the books, I loved the books.

Where is your favourite place to be?
Where my close people are, my best friends and my husband. People are important to me.

Your dream travel destination?
I’m going to Rome in October – I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve never been to Italy!

Describe Sandberg in three words.
Welcoming, challenging, fun.

About Sandberg, Icebreaker September 2019, Staff spotlight, Working at Sandberg