130: Culture and context. Never overlook the basics.

February 06, 2023

Your international explanation plans are ready. You’ve identified your target markets. Your team is ready to start engaging with customers. But how well do you know those markets? Japan, for instance, might seem like a prosperous country with plenty of opportunity. But will your remote-controlled garage doors take off? Most likely not – most of the population live in apartments. This crude example shows that, despite an optimistic outlook, a target market could prove to be a huge risk.

In this episode, Maria Schnell, RWS’s Chief Language Officer, explains why it’s critical for companies to fully understand – on a deep level – the culture and context of their audiences. And why these two pillars need to be part of the foundations of any growth strategy. She will also give examples where clients have seemingly overlooked the basics, and what can be done to ensure that companies always put culture and context at the centre of their customer engagement strategy.

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Maria Schnell

Maria Schnell

Chief Language Officer, RWS Group

Maria is responsible for the Language eXperience Delivery platform at RWS, and oversees all localization and production processes for client-facing teams.

Over 15 years’ experience in localization has given Maria an unrivalled level of expertise. Not only does she drive the day-to-day activities of language delivery teams, she is leading the transformation towards a data-driven, machine-first, human-centred localization process. 

After graduating from university, Maria joined SDL (acquired by RWS in 2020) as a Localization Project Manager. Her first leadership role arrived in 2010 when she led SDL’s operational and commercial teams in Germany. Five years later Maria moved to the operational side, leading production teams across Europe, and then globally. 

Maria has a Diplom Übersetzer from the University of Heidelberg. In her spare time Maria enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.


Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas

Senior Director of Product Marketing

Andrew Thomas has been working in the software industry long enough to have seen localization and content management grow from one-off manual, labor-intensive work to complex, highly automated systems management.

Based out of Northern California, Andrew brings a wealth of knowledge and industry experience to his global team as Senior Director of Product Marketing at RWS. Off the clock, Andrew enjoys spending time with his family, writing poetry and collecting lego sets.

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