A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to Millie Tran on her role as Director of Global Adaptation at BuzzFeed. She first caught my attention when she joined the Ways We Work Slack group and introduced herself - I immediately wanted to know more about the role of global adaptation at BuzzFeed and what that involved. In the interview, Millie shares what the role is, what her and her team work on and how she ended up in such a role after a long career in various editorial positions. She gives a lot of good insight into being successful in operational roles and leveraging your skills to move up and sometimes over within an organization.
Tell me a little about your role and what that involves on a day to day.
My title is Director of Global Adaptation at BuzzFeed. What that actually means is that my job is to make the best of BuzzFeed available to anyone, anywhere, in whatever language, platform or format. What that means in practice is that if a story is doing well in the U.S. in English, exploring if we should translate that into French or into German, and vice versa. Or, say if a video or comic is doing well in France, should it be a post in the U.S?
It’s more strategic than just translating though. The idea behind my role and the team I’m building is to build out an “adaptation layer” on top of BuzzFeed. If we have one layer where all of our content lives, and another where we’re distributing that content, I think of the adaptation layer as above both of those — where we’re looking at what’s being published, where it’s being published, how well it’s doing and how we can maximize what we’re doing with different audiences.
How big is that team?
I’ve been at BuzzFeed for a while but I started in this adaptation role in November. Since then, the team has grown to 8 people. There are four of us based in New York, two people in LA, one person in Tokyo and another person in Paris. We’re also hiring two more people in Brazil and Germany.
We mostly run out of headquarters in New York and our team in LA focuses on video translations and adapts the best of our video content. Mamiko and Adélie, who are on my team in Tokyo and Paris, respectively, are working with our BuzzFeed Japan and BuzzFeed France teams and focusing on bringing the best of BuzzFeed’s content from around the world to our Japanese and French audience. That will be the same across all our other markets. What’s fun is that we haven’t totally cracked the code on all of these yet, so we’re going through this really fun period of experimentation, building off lessons from our strong local editors and learning more deeply about who our audiences are and what resonates with them.