Conference Report: ELIA ND Focus on Project Management

Photo courtesy ELIA Facebook page

In September, the European Language Industry Association (ELIA) hosted nearly one hundred localization professionals in Porto, Portugal for ELIA ND Focus on Project Management. Nimdzi Managing Director, Tucker Johnson, delivered the keynote address and attended all of the available workshops. 

The format

For those readers who have never attended an ELIA focus event, it will be important to provide some background. This isn’t a typical localization conference, and the word “focus” is not used without specific intent. By focusing on a single aspect of the language services industry, participants are able to get a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the topics. 

The format is innovative. The first day starts with three main speakers and a keynote address. Each of the speakers focuses on a specific subject. 

Ivan Lukavsky

Process management and agile localization

Joanna Tarasiewicz

Strong client-relationship building

Korinne Le Page

Assertiveness and communication

Ivan Lukavsky from RSW Moravia presented on agile localization. Joanna Tarasiewicz, Production Manager at ATL, gave a presentation on how to build and maintain client relationships. Korinne Le Page of Thrive Coaching and Training spoke on the importance of assertiveness.  These presentations led seamlessly into the second day, which consisted of three workshops on the same subjects, moderated by the presenters from day 1. The first day’s presentations always provide an introduction to each concept and sets the conversation. Participants are then able to sleep on what they learned, discuss informally over a few glasses of port wine, and come prepared to dive in deeper on the second day. 

The crowd

The event focused on project management, and therefore virtually all of the participants were either project managers or came from a strong operational background. It was apparent from the first day that everybody was starting on the same page and could immediately dive into the weeds together. 

Perhaps what was most refreshing about the conference was that everybody was there with a single goal – grow their knowledge and strengthen their project management experience. This year’s atmosphere is not easy to describe, but can best be summed up with the word “humble.” There was no grandstanding nor was there a need to impress. Nobody was trying to sell anything. There was only open and honest conversation amongst peers. 

Focus on technology

Technology has become such an integral part of our industry that it is always going to be part of the conversation. As companies work to streamline processes and reduce overhead, there seems to be a general fear among project managers that the future of their jobs are at risk. Understandably, there was much discussion at the conference about technology’s impact on the profession, and although the focus was on project management, participants also discussed the future of the profession as it pertains to technology. 

The reality is that project management is already being automated, and has been for some time. Ever since the invention of email, the jobs that project managers do on a day-to-day basis have been evolving. The general consensus from the conference was that the role will continue to evolve as technology and processes change over time, but this is not something to be feared. Rather, forward-thinking project managers will learn to embrace technology and the efficiencies that come with it. Project management jobs will still be around 10 years from now, though the role may look very different from how it looks today. 

Focus on communication

The conference was fortunate to have Korinne Le Page of Thrive Coaching and Training who presented on soft skills that are useful for any project manager. This was a necessary inclusion to the agenda for any conference or workshop focusing on project management. One of the traps that project managers can easily fall into is go focus on process and technology but fail to improve communication and other soft skills. 

There was impressive depth to the discussions in the workshop about inter-personal skills and communication. The participants were open minded and brutally honest with each other. Following Korinne’s diplomatic guidance, the groups were able to work through real-world challenges that they are currently facing back in their home offices. They were able to walk away with practical action plans that are undoubtedly already being discussed with their teams as of the time of this publication. 

Tucker found this focus on assertiveness particularly interesting, since communication and soft skills have always been a passion of his. Tucker has taught workshops and hosted webinars on similar subjects, and was delighted to find himself learning new concepts and methods during the intensive workshop.


The event was great for anyone looking to grow in their role, be exposed to new ideas, or expand their network of fellow localization professionals. The format was innovative and effective. Tucker was impressed by the level of honesty, open-mindedness, and camaraderie between the attendees, speakers, and hosts. Has this article piqued your interest? Would like to learn more about ELIA events and other benefits they provide? If so, we encourage you to learn more by visiting elia-association.org.

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