What makes up a Career Path of a Language Specialist at IBM

Yashasvi Kapoor Chauhan, Global Technology Services (GTS) – Solutions, Delivery & Transformation talks to us about what it means to be a “Japanese Language Specialist”; and shares her views on the skills & personal attributes that one needs to be successful on the job. She details in this interview her success story at IBM; encouraging students & professionals to take up “Language” as a career.


  • Tell us about your role at IBM?

As a “Japanese Language Specialist’, my role is to ensure all conversations are smoothly interpreted, and all documents are accurately translated. But above all, I use my language expertise to build relationships with our clients!

It is said; to be understood one must communicate in the language of the listener. Therefore, the role of a ‘Language Specialist’ becomes all the more crucial in building a connect between the country management and clients; creating that trust and confidence of working together. Additionally, my team and I are working towards enhancing Japanese language skills of extended teams.

  • What is a typical day at work?

A typical day at IBM would include interpretations for meetings, trainings, translations, client interaction, and some more interpretation (Smiles). When tagged to a specific client, my day includes receiving knowledge from the client and interpreting that for our teams & management within specified timeframes.

Language experts in our team are constantly exposed to various scenarios & complexities for interpretations. We interpret for individuals while they go through knowledge transfer; and we also interpret for management to ensure smooth transition of work to India. We play a crucial role in keeping projects on track, by ensuring timely exchange of emails & documents and making accurate translations.

What kind of skills and experience are required for a language specialist to understand the role of an interpreter?

Five essentials to becoming a good interpreter

  • First, one needs to have a good grasp of both the languages, the one you interpret from, and the one you interpret to. An interpreter’s job is to ensure the ideas and conversation are converted from one language to the other, keeping the essence and feelings intact.
  • Second, a good understanding of the business, for which interpretation is being carried out. An overall understanding of the field for which the interpretation is being carried is an essential component of becoming a good interpreter. An interpreter needs to carefully chose the words that shall describe the conversation aptly, and are industry specific.
  • Third, a good understanding of cultures for both the languages. Certain expression, and behavior are country / culture specific. Therefore, as an interpreter, one needs to understand what might be acceptable from one culture to the other, and what might become offensive. For example, French greet each other with a peck on the cheek, while Japanese avoid any physical contact. Hence, it is the responsibility of the interpreter to ensure smooth transition happens from one culture to the other.
  • Fourth, a good understanding of human behavior. As an interpreter, we come across several types of personalities, therefore it an interpreter’s responsibility to ensure all conflicts, arising due to conflicting personalities, are mitigated, and smooth transition of business takes place.
  • Fifth, always have a seeking mind. An interpreter needs to keep learning, from industry specific vocabulary, to understanding different aspects of a culture. An interpreter needs to keep adapting to the situation, or meeting. All this is possible only when an interpreter is ready to keep learning.

Share your experience as a Japanese interpreter?

As an interpreter, I have had multiple opportunities to interact with people from different industries, sects, and countries. These experiences have given me multiple learning’s – about people, cultures and progress being made in different industries.

 Becoming a Japanese interpreter has opened different avenues as a career. I worked as a freelancer before joining IBM. This allowed me to chose my assignments and even travel while I worked. Now at IBM, I am constantly exposed to various scenarios & complexities for interpretations, I get to learn new technologies & platforms and  I am more knowledgeable and up-to-date in the IT field.

To summarize my experience as a Japanese interpreter, I would say, it has been fulfilling.

What is your message to prospective candidates who want to join IBM?

When I was appearing for an interview with IBM last year, a friend of mine casually made a statement, “if you get an offer from IBM, you should not refuse. It will change your life”, and six months of working with IBM, I couldn’t have agreed more.

IBM offers an eternal growth curve. I have come to view IBM as a practical school, a place where all the employees receive abundant opportunities to experiment, and experience growth in several fields, along with practical exposure. Once an employee aligns their goals with the goals of the company, the entire team works to ensure each employee receives exposure and opportunities to learn.

I would suggest prospective candidates to always have an open mind when they enter IBM, because there is learning and growth waiting for you at all corners.

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