Stranger than Fiction? A Day in the Life of a Project Manager

At precisely 9 o’clock in the morning, text&form project manager Sebastian Binarsch opens the door to the Berlin office. He takes exactly 15 steps to reach his workspace, greeting co-workers with a friendly “Guten Tag!” After turning on his computer, Sebastian makes a beeline for the kitchen, where he makes his first (of many) cups of coffee for the day. He walks 10 paces back to his desk, being careful not to spill a drop of the “Nectar of the Gods.”The project manager at his desk

Back at his desk, he…well I don’t know actually. The regular narrator is on vacation in Rome, so I’m filling in. I have a great idea – why don’t I get Sebastian to tell the story of his day himself? It will be in-depth!  Adventurous! Romantic! (And in the meantime I can go get a coffee).

I can hear you, you know. Narrating my day.

Oh. That’s awkward.

Is this going to be like Stranger than Fiction, where the narrator thinks about killing off the main character, just for the sake of the plot?

Why would I do that? Excellent project managers are hard to come by, and killing you off would be a waste of a perfectly good PM. Now, please continue. Something about your morning routine?

Thank you for your vote of confidence. I start the morning by checking my inbox and answering e-mails. These often include urgent inquiries and follow-up questions from translators. The motto “strength lies in calmness” is apt for a project manager, who should possess two essential traits: patience and the ability to work under pressure.

Since not everything runs according to plan or is successful at the first go, a project manager needs to be patient. Just like today: A translator who was supposed to complete an urgent translation using a translation memory tool is not able to deliver the file on time. In this case, it has to do with a few pitfalls in the tool.

After the problem with the tool is fixed, new orders are placed for translations that can only be performed using this tool at the same time. Since customer loyalty and satisfaction are priorities for us, I confirm receipt of the orders and make every effort to confirm the customer’s desired date of delivery as quickly as possible.

I have to ask, Sebastian, why do you do what you do?

For me, project management is an incredibly exciting and open professional field.  I enjoy being a project manager because the tasks vary a lot, and no two days are the same. A project manager must use many of his or her skills, and can apply them to a variety of areas. Not only are reliability, organization, and flexibility critical skills, but also a fundamental understanding of foreign languages, accounting and the coordination/execution of time-sensitive, tight-deadline projects.


Where was I? After studying English and Romance languages –

Romance language like “Oh Henry, you’re so handsome and wonderful! But I can’t leave my husband, Joe, and go to Nebraska to be with you and the child I left behind 12 years ago!”

Umm…that sounds more like a soap opera. Plus if it was a Romance language it would be more like “Henri” and “Giuseppe.” It was important for me to work in a field where I could combine my language skills and my organisational abilities. Project management in a translation company means that a project manager gets to work on a new challenge every day, a challenge I am always prepared to meet with élan and perseverance!

That’s the spirit!

Next up: a meeting in our conference room (complete with more coffee). Our weekly PM meeting is a chance for the team to share important information about new vendors, IT-related matters and scheduling–

And to be grilled mercilessly by your fellow project managers, those dastardly knaves, thereby exposing your weaknesses, which they use to climb the promotional ladder and rescue the princess!

Actually, my fellow PMs are nice, and we get along really well. It’s important to collaborate and share ideas; it ensures that our customers receive seamless service and allows us to prevent potential problems.

You’re killing my buzz here.

Sorry. I’ll check tomorrow to see if there are any princesses that need saving. Back at my desk, an email awaits me from a customer who wants a non-binding quote for a translation. In order for us to meet each and every customer requirement, text&form adheres to the four-eye principle and works only with trusted, long-time translators.

In just a few steps, our project management tool identifies providers who are available for a particular language pair and specialty. The project management tool can filter by provider, which makes it easy to find providers who have previously translated for a specific customer.

Wow, you do all that in the morning? I thought your job sounded easy. Easier than being a narrator, that’s for sure.

We can switch jobs tomorrow, maybe. I take my break around 1 p.m., grab another cup of coffee, enjoy a little breather and let emails be emails.

Coffee break

This afternoon I receive a special assignment. A customer has sent us new translations from one of its subsidiaries for products that have already been translated. Since these are revised translations, we need to update them in our translation memory tool accordingly. Maintaining accurate terminology is critical, since it guarantees that translators use customer-specific terminology consistently and preserves the customer’s corporate image.

Alright, I think I’ve got if from here. At precisely 5:30 pm, Sebastian prepares for the next day, prioritizing tasks and making notes about active projects and deadlines, while enjoying a nice cup of…tea. (No more coffee for today!). Then he goes home. THE–

Actually, I’d like to conclude my story with, “As a language services provider, we go home satisfied when we have delivered professional translations on time and at fair prices.” It’s nothing less than the truth, and I sleep well knowing I’ve done everything I can to give our clients the best possible translations.

Well said.



Sebastian Binarsch has been a project manager at text&form since 2016. When he isn’t taking care of translation customers he enjoys spending time in the sun. In Barcelona.

Charlotte Chase (our narrator) joined text&form in December 2017 to support the marketing team. The hockey loving Canadian (!) enjoys pucks and puns equally.