This time, we sat down with Megan Hancock, a Project Management Training Specialist. Megan started as an intern in our Whiteley office in 2013 and moved to our London office to work as a Project Coordinator after her initial three-month internship. She now lives in Bulgaria and works in our Varna office.
Which languages do you speak, Megan?
I speak – to some degree – Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Spanish, Japanese and Bulgarian.
Yes, you have been learning Bulgarian! How is it going?
Well, I’m pretty good at ordering lunch and that’s about it! The guys from the office will tell you that there is a lunch place near the office that we go to: I can kind of handle ordering there. Sometimes, I find that I understand questions people ask in Bulgarian in the office well enough that I can reply in English.
I only started studying it informally when I arrived. I’m picking it up as a I go along, really.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
The first thing I remember wanting to be when I was four or five years old was a dentist. In secondary school, I wanted to be a nurse. I think I dropped that when I was at sixth form college.
When I was choosing what to study at university, I picked Scandinavian Studies when I realised that I was passionate about languages and literature rather than science subjects.
How did you end up working in the translation industry?
Siân Mackie, who is a Senior English Translator at STP, was in the year above me at the University of Edinburgh. She had completed an internship at STP the previous year and came to talk to our translation studies class about her experience. After the talk, my tutor put me through to Anu Carnegie-Brown.
I was accepted for an internship: I started out doing translation, but I was asked if I wanted to try out project management as well. I really enjoyed it!
What does it mean to be Project Management Training Specialist?
It kind of means all things to all project managers! First of all, I take care of the formal project managers’ induction. Outside of that, my main responsibility is to provide ongoing training and support to the whole project management team working in our Varna office.
I do run formal training sessions, but aside from that, I come to the office in morning, see what people need help with and go and help them. I do scheduled shadowing: I observe project managers when they are working and help them. I support them with new tools and situations.
Basically, if a team member shouts out my name, I appear at their desk and help them out. I’m also in charge of the project management training documentation and wiki.
What’s the most important quality for a good Project Management Training Specialist?
Patience. The project manager role is complicated, and there’s a lot to learn. You need to recognise that everyone goes at their own pace and support them with that. Sometimes lots of people need you at the same time and you need to stay calm and help them all as well as you can.
How did you become a Project Management Training Specialist?
For about a year, I was a Team Leader for one of our Varna-based teams. The Team Leader was responsible for training, project management and leadership.
The team kept growing and there became a need to have someone else do the training. We decided that we’d have a new Team Leader and one full-time dedicated training specialist.
Training is something that I am good at and that interests me. I enjoy it a lot and I think the role is really well suited to my skills!
What is your favourite part of your role?
I would say it is just someone coming to me with a problem that I can troubleshoot and that we can solve together. It might be a technical issue, a client situation or they might be struggling to find a suitable linguist for a job. I enjoy finding a solution together.
Are there any differences between working in London and working in Varna?
Well, my life outside of work is less stressful here. I don’t have a big commute: I can just walk to the office. The Varna office is made up of project managers for the most part, so it’s a very chatty, interactive and collaborative space.
At the office here, there’s a big culture of celebrating occasions, like name days and birthdays. People will bring in cakes and biscuits to celebrate all sorts of things, which is lovely.
If you could have a professional superpower, what would it be?
I guess it would be to open a piece of software and to know exactly how it all works instantly. You’d save so much time looking for buttons!
Machine translation – friend or foe?
I think it’s a friend. At least in my experience, I’ve found it quite impressive – it’s not the same for all languages of course!
If you could do any other job for a week, what would it be?
I would work on making the costumes for a big period drama. I do sew a bit now, though I’m not very advanced. I would love to try that out for a little while!
If you could wake up and be fluent in a new language, what would it be?
Well, it’s not completely new to me, but maybe Bulgarian. But if it was a language I didn’t know at all, it would be Finnish.
When I was working as a Project Manager at STP, I was able to understand Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. I felt that if I had known Finnish as well, I would have been unstoppable!
Do you have any language-related pet peeves?
I would say that my pet peeve is when people are too prescriptive, especially about things like slang and the way younger people use language. Language is always evolving, and you’ve got to go with how people use it!
What’s your favourite word?
Which three words describe your personality the most?
Determined, curious, resourceful.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m quite good at knitting socks. I knit all kinds of socks, mostly for myself, and I like to experiment with different patterns. Usually the socks end up being quite colourful!
It’s fika time. Tea or coffee?
Coffee if it’s in the morning, tea if it’s in the afternoon. If I’m having tea, the milk goes in after!
Who do you most admire, and why?
My grandma. She’s just a really strong woman who has done a lot of things in her life. She was a nurse in the army and has eight kids and she’s so good at so many things. She’s really strong-willed and fearless.
How do you unwind at the end of a long day?
Usually I either watch TV or listen to a podcast and knit. Right now, I’m watching the TV series Vikings. A few people in the Varna office got me into it!
Where is your favourite place to be?
I think it’s Edinburgh. I went to university there, so I feel attached to it and I’ve still got friends there. It’s a really nice place to go back to on holiday!
Your dream travel destination?
Maybe New Orleans, now that I’ve crossed New York and Japan off my list.
Describe STP in three words
Flexible, innovative, intelligent.