We talked to Pavel Koshak of Palex Group CEO about translating ideas to global success and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pavel Koshak: We are doing fine, and the reason I believe is that I haven’t felt any fear nor panic about the whole thing. There are doctors in our family who explained in detail how the virus works, how to get prepared, and what safety measures to take.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Palex Group?
Pavel Koshak: I got really lucky! In the 1990s, I worked at a large factory and was finishing my research paper at the same time. My bosses saw their own benefits in my degree and provided me a quiet place in the localization department. There I became a much-appreciated subject-matter expert who was luckily good at languages. That was when I first touched the magic of translation, and it has never let me go ever since. In 2001 my daughter was born, and it gave me a huge impulse to change my life both mentally and financially. So, I decided to rule my own company instead of the factory department. This is how Palex Group was born 19 years ago.
How does Palex Group innovate?
Pavel Koshak: Our main innovation is the creation of a unique method of high-speed selection and training of translation teams. In the shortest possible time, we are able to assemble a team for a specific project, which is a competitive feature in our industry. Our innovative Language Quality Assurance forms allow all the participants of the translation process to dive deep into the subject matter, adapt to the reviewers’ workflow and requirements, and to train the team to speak the same language. We also created an educational program for localization project managers when no college or university had such specialization. Last year we collaborated with Tomsk State University and created a unique course called Translation Quality Management for Coursera with 7.5 thousand students registered.
We are also the creators of one of the leading Quality Assurance tools in the translation industry called Verifika. In general, we largely employ the workflow automation principle, which allows us to reduce the amount of work significantly and affects the total cost of work.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pavel Koshak: The pandemic has affected us in the same manner it has affected our clients. Some of the industries we are serving have fallen while others have grown. The producers of brick and mortar goods obviously suffered the most while the online and multimedia businesses are thriving.
Some of our bigger clients put projects on pause and wait until the situation changes on the client’s side. For companies of our size, this is much like a marathon where those who will be able to make it to the finish line win the game. However, we managed to fit into the average industry schedule, which is a 2% fall.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pavel Koshak: Switching to online communication was a difficult decision. All face to face meetings are now handled online. Critical components of the communication, such as emotional impact and fueling each other, have disappeared. Now I have to think twice before saying anything online to make my message as unambiguous as possible. As a leader, it became very challenging for me to communicate with the team. At a 100-person general meeting, I lack non-verbal feedback, which is always much more honest than any words. One more challenging issue now is hiring. Previously, one of the main factors affecting the decision was how a person adapts and fits into our corporal spirit. Now, when the communication happens online, the involvement and adaptation process takes more time and effort from both a newcomer and us. Working in such a manner makes the hiring decision very tough, and most likely, there will be mistakes. We have to be prepared for that. One more difficult decision was canceling all offline corporate events. Palex Group is 19 years old, and we have lots of traditions which are carefully preserved and respected by all employees. These traditions include a great deal of interaction outside the workspace. And now we need to rethink our long-standing values to maintain a team spirit.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Pavel Koshak: There’s research saying that stress blocks creative processes in the brain, which is very detrimental to decision-making, especially in instability times. Therefore, stress is a very destructive condition for the body, including such consequences as suppressing the immune system. My stress response is sport and communication with friends. I also practice visualizing positive moments zoning out of work. It’s like an active meditation aimed at positive thinking.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pavel Koshak: According to the Slator rating, Palex Group takes 108th place among more than 140 thousand linguistic companies. So, we treat these 107 LSPs as our main competitors. We are not a big company, which we see as an advantage, granting us the flexibility needed for a fast adaptation to the market demand. We look closely at market trends and follow our clients’ needs. It allows us to stay in touch with reality and adapt to the changing situation offering the needed service just in time. Now we register the demand for visualizing content, 3D modeling, video streaming, and subtitling. However, it hasn’t happened overnight, this was a pre-pandemic trend, and as it became stronger, we have already had a trained team prepared for the growing load of work. We are good at it, especially taking into account our mentioned training methodology. We also have to support a wide range of skills within the company to be able to take on any order that comes to the sales office. Turnaround time is becoming a key feature for the client since the overall time to market is rapidly decreasing. Whoever makes it first to market takes it all. So we focus on trends and reduced time to market to meet the customers’ expectations.
Your final thoughts?
Pavel Koshak: Despite all the issues with logistics, communication, online conferences, and many others, now is also the time of great opportunities. So, the first to adapt to the new reality will become a game-changer who gets the world. We choose to follow this paradigm. Moreover, this lockdown has taught us the importance of human interaction and family integrity. Stay safe!
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