Faces of Gengo: Jamie

As Gengo’s Project Management Lead, Jamie manages orders for our biggest enterprise clients, such as QuizUp and TripAdvisor. This entails devising workflows for each project, finding qualified translators and communicating directly with the client to get relevant information and feedback.

Together with his team—who are based in Berlin, London, Tokyo, and San Mateo—he helps to test and QA new products with our translators before being released to the entire pool.

Nationality:  American
Hometown: Missoula, Montana
Languages: English, Japanese and German
Education: BA Japanese, University of Montana; MA Japanese Literature, Portland State University; Inter-University Center (IUC) for Japanese Language Studies, Yokohama

Where have you lived before, and what were your previous roles?

While attending college, I lived in Missoula but studied abroad in Vienna for one semester and Kumamoto, Japan, for one year. After graduating, I lived in Yokohama for one year before returning to the U.S. and completing my masters degree in Portland. After that, I moved to the Bay Area and started translating for Gengo in the Japanese to English language pair. I then became an intern for three months within the Projects team, after which I was hired as a full-time employee.

How would you describe living and working in San Mateo?

It’s pretty fun. Our office is right in downtown San Mateo and we’re surrounded by lots of restaurants and places to see. Although our office is small, we all work closely together and get along well. There’s always something to do in the area, and we’re only about 20 miles from San Francisco, too.

How long have you worked at Gengo?

I started as an intern in January 2013 and became a full-time employee in April that year.

What drew you to the company?

I wanted to make money with my skills I had gained from my time at IUC. One of my friends, who was a Senior Translator at myGengo—as it was called at the time—told me to check out the company.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I really like working with our translators and hearing their feedback about Gengo. Although I work with a lot of different translators across most of our language pairs, I often work with the the same translators and get to know them well.

I also have a lot of diversity in my daily tasks. The projects team mainly exists to deal with assignments that happen outside the main Gengo system. So we’re regularly handling something new, whether a project, client or file type. I’m usually working with new clients and workflows, which means I often face new challenges. My work is always fun and I’m lucky enough to never get bored.

What have been some of your challenges, and how have you overcome them?

We often have customers who want particular end products that our system currently can’t provide within our existing quality tiers. So we have to go beyond this limitation for our customers and devise a tailored solution for them. For example, we may be asked to QA a website, or do cursory or secondary checks on their translations.

My team’s challenge is to figure out how to give the customer what they want with our somewhat limited resources.

How has Gengo changed since you started working here?

The main thing is that the faces have changed. I’ve only worked in the San Mateo office and, when I started at Gengo, there were only five of us here. At that time, our office was within another company’s space. Now, we have our own office with around 15 employees, and are still growing.

What has been your biggest achievement within the company?

I’m proud that I progressed from intern to head of the Projects team—it’s really cool that you can grow so much within the company. I’m happy that I’ve earned the trust of the rest of Gengo to able to do that.

In the future, the Projects team will grow and my challenge will be to manage a much bigger team.

What are you most excited about for the future at Gengo?

I’m very excited about the work that our engineers have been doing as well as the new tools they’ve been creating. These will really help my team, and will solidify Gengo as a really unique option within the translation space.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the company goes from here and how we will grow in different regions.

What do you think makes Gengo a great place to work?

I’ve always tried to be as cosmopolitan as possible through living in different places and learning languages, so I think one of Gengo’s strong points is that it’s so multicultural.

People from all over the world work for us so, as an employee, you’re always exposed to different cultures and ways of thinking, making work fun and interesting.


What do you do in your spare time?  

I play lots of video games, especially the Final Fantasy series. I read a lot—I recently read some really good short stories by Etgar Keret, an Israeli author. I also love Star Trek and like going to conventions, which are held every year in the Bay Area. Since I’m from Montana, I like baking Huckleberry pies, too!

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Megan Waters

The author

Megan Waters

Megan manages all things translator-related as Gengo’s Community and Digital Content Manager. Born in South Africa but now based in Tokyo, she’s passionate about languages and people. Megan spends her free time exploring secondhand shops, camping in the mountains and hosting the occasional dinner party.

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