EGA Reteller: Women in Localisation Edition

Ever since VSI was founded in 1989, gender equality, diversity and inclusion have been an important part of the company’s DNA. We have always sought to ensure the people we work with represent the communities in which we live.

We are proud that more than half of our 700+ employees across the 26 territories where we operate are women. At a senior leadership level, women are well-represented too. Our COO, Cornelia Al-Khaled is female, as are 35% of our in-country Managing Directors. Within VSI’s senior management, we also have a relatively even gender split.

In this article, we’d like to throw the spotlight on some of those executives.


Ulrike Schubert, Managing Director, VSI Berlin  

Ulrike joined VSI as a trainee in 2001. Four years later, aged just 25, she helped set up VSI Berlin. She has run the facility ever since, building it into one of Germany’s leading localisation players thanks to an unwavering focus on quality. As MD, she leads 100 staff, delivering dubbing, subtitling, access services and multi-lingual production management from an impressive facility on the banks of the river Spree.

She’s known as an inspirational leader and team player who loves to embrace new ideas and develop people so they can succeed. VSI Berlin has offered training programs since its early days and 2022 saw the launch of several additional initiatives to ensure the talent pool continues to grow and diversify.

Ulrike has dedicated her career to localisation. Reflecting on the 22 years she has worked with VSI founder Norman Dawood, she says, “I am not sure many German CEOs would have trusted a 25-year-old linguist (and a woman) who had started as a trainee at their company four years earlier to then build and run a new facility. But Norman did.”

Özlem Özbay, Managing Director, VSI Istanbul

Özlem recalls it was a childhood dream of hers to be a voice artist. Her dreams became a reality when she found work as a voice talent while a university student and has now worked in the Turkish localisation industry for 28 years.

She’s been part of VSI since 2007 and leads VSI Istanbul, which provides localisation services for the MENA region. Last year, she oversaw the move to a much larger facility housing eight mixing rooms, three editing rooms and eight recording studios in a six-floor building. In total, she leads a staff of 54.

As a provider of Turkish dubbing, voice-over, mixing and subtitling services, the facility has launched several channels for leading international television networks through to re‑versioning Oscar‑winning features.

Whatever the project, Özlem says she and her colleagues approach it with the same kind of passion she had at the beginning of her career. “When we take a project, whether it is science fiction or a historical movie, I think about its scriptwriter and their starting point,” she explains, “All the labour and emotion behind a project makes me more excited about creating an outstanding reflection in our language. Being a bridge between the Turkish audience and the creators worldwide makes me feel fulfilled.”


Débora Arima, Managing Director, VSI Vox Mundi 

Débora joined the VSI Group with the acquisition of São Paulo-based localisation firm Vox Mundi in 2021. Now known as VSI Vox Mundi, the facility is focused on localising content into Portuguese for Brazil, one of the world’s most popular dubbing territories.

Her localisation experience goes back to 2008 when she first started working at Vox Mundi. She joined as a producer before being promoted to project manager and then business manager, rising to managing director in 2021. As MD, she played an active role in the negotiations which led to the company becoming part of the VSI Group.

One of her proudest achievements has been to contribute to the growth of the studio. When she began, it had two recording studios and two mixing rooms. Now the extensive facility is complete with eight recording studios (plus six remote recording studios) and five mixing rooms including an impressive theatrical suite with Dolby Atmos mixing. On her watch, VSI Vox Mundi has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the largest and most prominent studios in Brazil, serving the major OTT platforms as a preferred partner, as well as other high-profile broadcast clients.

Yuka Miyakita, Head of Operations, VSI London

Yuka has worked in the localisation industry for almost 18 years, starting in subtitling before taking on roles in project and account management. She is now Head of Operations, responsible for the vendor management, subtitling, creative services and media services teams at VSI London.

Working with security, IT and development teams on many company-wide initiatives, Yuka has a wide brief, operating within a technical space that is typically very male‑dominated. She has been responsible for testing and launching a complex cloud‑based translation memory solution for a major VSI client and is now part of the team helping to develop a subtitling tool, also in the cloud. She also oversees testing of new services such as tools for STT (speech-to-text) or MT (machine translation) and develops workflows for VSI, testing them closely and then training staff to use them effectively.


Continued effort

At VSI, we’re aware continued efforts are needed to promote gender equality, diversity, and inclusion within the localisation industry. We know many of our customers are very focused on this topic as well. Despite significant progress in this sector, there is still talk about pay gaps and glass ceilings.

We must make sure that everyone has the same opportunities in localisation. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense too. The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability, according to McKinsey research.  We ensure there is no measurable difference in terms of how any gender is rewarded, both financially and in terms of the opportunities available to them. And we are pleased to continue to help drive the progress in this space.