The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand


The Translation Pros

Language Management supports the work of monitor Larry D. Thompson and his team 
by translating documents and interpreting in meetings.

Monitor Larry D. Thompson and his team have been scrutinizing structures and procedures at Volkswagen for just over a year now. Language Management plays an important role in the company’s collaboration with this monitor from the USA. The department translates documents, primarily from German into English, and interprets between those two languages in meetings.

“We have to work quickly and precisely.
We have adapted most of our processes and procedures in order to meet those requirements,” says Language Management head Dirk Zehnpfund. “Our 27 employees carry out the work for the monitor on top of the ever-increasing volume of daily business,” says Zehnpfund of the Language Management team, which is based in After Sales in Wolfsburg. “For that we are very grateful!”

What are the particular challenges for Language Management when supporting the monitor? One of them is time. The monitor’s team often needs translations on short notice. Moreover, many source documents cannot be edited electronically. As Kristin Winterboer from the Order Management department explains, “Those who are familiar with this work know that it is not easy to generate editable files from PDFs for translation purposes. It requires a lot of preparatory work and the use of modern systems.”

Nine native speakers are permanently
employed in Language Management, and they provide translation for the Supervisory Board, the Board of Management and the monitor and his team. Six additional employees take care of organizational matters. For example, they coordinate orders and select service providers to translate and interpret when the permanent employees’ capacities are exceeded.

"We have to work quickly and precisely."

After translation, editing is also required in order to check the spelling, grammar and meaning of the texts. “Those tasks can only be performed by expert professionals, who also have to undergo rigorous screening with respect to secrecy, confidentiality and security. After all, they are dealing with sensitive documents,” explains Nikolas Meyer-Aun, who is responsible for supplier and quality management. He says that it takes a lot of effort to find suitable, reliable partners.

And as if that were not enough,
the Volkswagen employees also maintain and expand a database on a daily basis that currently contains about 30,000 terms. The terminology database primarily includes specialized terms that are coordinated with the particular departments and with the legal team. “We speak Volkswagen and have a terminology all our own,” explains Catherine Williams. “Furthermore, every department uses its own terms and abbreviations,” adds Williams, who is responsible for terminology management. “However, uniformity in language is important, so that everyone means the same thing and can understand one another.” That’s why maintaining the database is also so important when providing translations for the monitor.

The company saves a lot of money
through the department’s translation IT systems. Those systems are instrumental in ensuring that work is not duplicated. How? Algorithms compare new orders with previously translated texts and ensure that only unfamiliar sentences are translated.

"We speak Volkswagen and have a terminology all our own."

However, the ultimate challenge for Language Management’s employees is probably the meetings between the monitor’s team and the various departments. “Interpreting simultaneously and without a script – that’s Champions’ League stuff,” explains Elske Schulze, who coordinates interpreting.

The central office for Monitorship Coordination
is satisfied with Language Management’s work. “A big thank you to my colleagues,” says manager Thomas Meiers. “Without the translations, which are consistently of high quality, we would not have been able to meet our obligations vis-à-vis the monitor. A lot of work still lies ahead for us in the next two years. To complete it, we will continue to work together closely with Language Management,” says Meiers.