Welcome to the first ever episode of the Natural English Podcast! In this episode we hear from Clement from France, who works as a Project Manager in Canada and uses English as an integral part of his job. We’ll hear how he has used English in his field of Project Management to travel and live in different countries. Follow along with the transcript and download the full lesson to study the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation corrections and explanations.
Intro: The Natural English Podcast: Success stories from beyond the English language barrier. Follow along with the transcript, linked in the description.
Nahum - Natural: Hello and welcome to the first ever episode of the Natural English Podcast, a podcast where we hear success stories from beyond the English language barrier.
Nahum - Natural: We're going to be speaking to different people from different industries with different stories and hearing about their jobs and how English has helped them in their journey. And I'm delighted to be joined by our first ever Natural guest today. So a big welcome to Clement. Clement, how does it feel to be the first ever guest on a national English podcast?
Clement: Well, I'm honoured and excited. It's really nice to be to be with you Nahum. So, a pleasure to be the first guest.
Nahum - Natural: This is where your career peaks, I think, after this.
Clement: I do believe.
Nahum - Natural: Great. So, Clement, we're going to be asking you some questions about you, your your industry and your journey with English. So first off, where are you from and where are you calling from today?
Clement: All right, so I think you can guess it with my accent, I mean, I'm obviously French as so I was born in Paris and today I'm calling from Toronto in Canada, so North America.
Nahum - Natural: What's the weather like in Toronto this time of year?
Clement: Well, right now it's grey, like not very nice. It's it's a little bit starting to be chilly. We've gone past, you know, the autumn season with a red leaf where it's really beautiful, you can go out, it’s amazing, and we are slowly starting to go into winter, you know, so exciting at the beginning because it's the first snow. You know, you get excited, you can play in the snow. But yeah, the winter lasts about five to six months. So soon after Christmas, it starts to be less exciting. But yeah.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah, I imagine it starts to wear off very quickly after the first few days of low temperatures, a bit like England. I used to live in Manchester where it rains most of the time. The novelty quickly wears off.
Nahum - Natural: Great and so what is it that you… what is it that you do Clement, what is your career? What is your profession?
Clement: I think most of my career I was dedicated to project management. So I've done a lot of project management and especially in the public transport industry. Today I'm a director of process improvement and integration. So I deal with integrating new businesses into the company and streamlining and optimizing processes across, across departments so cross-functional and cross organizational for the busses that we operate in the US.
Nahum - Natural: Great, so you're in Canada, but it's a U.S. a US company?
Clement: Yeah, it's it's actually a French company, but we have operations all around the world
Nahum - Natural: For people who don't know exactly what project management is. I know you said a little bit about it, if you kind of summarizing what a project manager does in a simple way. I know it's hard because there's so much involved. But how would you describe it?
Clement: It's it's actually pretty simple. You know, project management is about making a vision or a dream becoming reality. So that's the simplest way to describe it, right so... and it applies basically to everything. You know, even in your personal life, you can do a little bit of project management, very simple steps. You plan first, so look ahead. What do you what do we want to achieve in the next three months or six months? What is our target? What is our goal? What does success look like? And then once you have defined what success look like, you define the way to reach this success. OK, so what was the differences that we need to take? Who needs to be involved in these different steps and how much resource will be involved financially or human resource? And yeah, and then once this is deployed, you kick it off with the team and then just kick ass!
Nahum - Natural: Yeah, in theory right? In practice... who knows?
Clement: You know, you need to have I think one of the one of the most important things in project management is communication. So you need to have regular communication with the whole team so that everybody's in line on what we need to achieve, where we're going in that direction. And project management, more and more is associated with change management, which is not just, you know, we have the software to implement, let's implement the software, but also we have the software to implement, great, but we also have to change the culture and the way people do the things. Otherwise, you have just implemented a beautiful tool that nobody is using. So it's also how do you change people's culture and people's way and habits so that it's a successful project in the long term?
Nahum - Natural: Yeah. So I guess organization is is an essential part of project management.
Clement: Yeah. Organization. Yeah. I think I'd say more than organization, is really communication. Really, really, you know, having your weekly meetings, you know, with all the team, sharing the successes and the priorities regarding the priorities, does it make sense has it aligned with the project goals? That's really where where you see value addition as a project manager rather than being a taskmaster. You know, you don't want to micromanage. You don't want to say you were to deliver X, Y, Z, you didn't deliver X. You need to stay and focus on the main priorities, especially on cross organization or big project. If you lose yourself in the details, you lose the big picture.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah. Yeah. Seeing the big picture, just going to explain. Big picture is like the full project, right. For anyone who's maybe unfamiliar, seeing the big picture, you can see the process from the start to the end. I happen to know, because we are friends, that you've you've had a chance to live in different parts of the world. So where has your career in project management taken you so far?
Clement: Yeah, I think, you know, travel for me has always been very important in my life since a pretty young age, I would say. So I started abroad, really living abroad. I studied just after school when I graduated, I spent six months in Vietnam and then I moved back to France for two years. And then I started to move again around the world with with the same company, actually. So I'm pretty lucky that my company is, you know, across continents and across countries. So I have been two years in India, two years in the Middle East, two years in Manchester, in the UK, and now it's been a little bit more than two years in Canada. So, couple of continents, couple of countries over the past ten years.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah, it's almost easier to ask “where haven't you been with your career?” Than: ”where have you been?" Yeah. So can you tell us about a particular project that you've worked on that was interesting? If it's not top secret!
Clement: It's public transport,
Nahum - Natural: Nothing is top secret.
Clement: Yeah, I think there's many projects that are exciting in my career. I would say the one in India was particularly exciting because it was about mobilizing a "greenfield" project. So that's an interesting term. Greenfield means we start from scratch with nothing and everything is starting to build up from zero. And so when I arrived in India, there was no organization we were basically two or three people there full time to set up and define the organizational structures, the processes and the way we would work going forward. And so it's really exciting to start from a blank page, a little bit scary sometimes, but really exciting to to do that because it's going to have an impact for the long term as well. So there's a lot of theoretical work involved. And today the Metro is actually working and it's working well. And it's it's it's great to to see updates, you know, a newsletter or on the Google News about this network and to see how people are engaged with it and how it's transforming the city in the long term.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah. So you described it as a greenfield project
Clement: Correct -compared to a brownfield project, which Brownfield would be. There is already something existing - taking over the existing structure, infrastructure, people, et cetera. That would be a brownfield project. Don't ask me where it comes from.
Nahum - Natural: No, it's, they're useful, useful terms to know. OK, we're going to ask this question to every guest. Which word or expression would only make sense to someone in your field of work?
Clement: And I think, you know, if if you look at public transportation, especially in France, but, you know, on the railway industry, you will have a lot a lot of acronyms and terms that are very, very specific to the railway. And you put that in perspective. You know, it's a 100 year old job actually in the railway industry in France, but in the U.K., in many countries, railway is pretty old. And by being pretty old, it has a lot of acronyms and it developed its own kind of sub language. I would say one of the terms that I like because I was doing this job when I was back in France at the beginning of my career is "run cut”. So run is to define the timetable basically for the bus or the train. And so you have a software on which you would build vehicles start at this time, and then we'll go through all these steps that this time, this time and then finish here and then it goes to the next trip, etc, etc. And you do that through the whole network so that when you do that, it's called a "run cut"
Nahum - Natural: A run cut, ok.
Clement: Correct. And then when you put people on top of the vehicles, right, you have the run cut that shows the vehicles, and then you want to associate people to bits of these "run cuts". It's called a roster. So then you put the people on and they are on the roster.
Nahum - Natural: So, yeah. So they know when to go and when.
Clement: Exactly. So you would have your sheet, you know, for the week that will say, you know, on day one you will run, on Monday you do this, on Tuesday, you do that on Wednesday, you're off et cetera, et cetera. So that would be your roster. I don't think roster is too particular to public transport.
Nahum - Natural: No, I've heard of that before. Yeah, but run cut is for me, whose not involved in public transport, that's a new, a new expression. Yeah. OK, I wanted to speak just a little bit more about your journey with the English language. Obviously you're a very advanced speaker. So how has English...
Clement: Thank you.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah. Yeah. It's a it's a big compliment, you know? And yeah you've obviously gone all over the world, I imagine English has been a big part of that. So, yeah. What's your journey with English and how has it helped you?
Clement: Well I think it started when I was pretty young because... very young my parents put me... when I was really, really little, maybe two or three years old, I remember I was in a bilingual school. So, you know, with a bit of English. And as I grew up, my father was working a lot in England. So we used to go at least once a year. So I had a kind of a connection to English, but I was really bad at English. I couldn't speak. I could barely understand it. I think I had my really first breakthrough when I well, my father and I, so, decided I was about 16 years old to send me to England for a couple of weeks, couple of months to find a job during summer time. And I would go there alone by myself. So, well, my father accompanied me to go there. We found a place to stay, etc. And then he left back to France. And I was by myself for, I think a bit more than a month. Well, and I think it's really where I realised it's a gap, I would say, between what you are taught in school, in France, in your home country, versus what is needed to survive, you know, abroad in an English speaking country. And it was really a click for me because I think it helped me to to get the basics done and covered and be able to have a normal conversation with strangers.
Nahum - Natural: And you arrive in England and "You alright mate, what's going on?" It's a bit of a shock to the system right?
Clement: In England you have these beautiful accents. You know, the ups and downs. It's really, really charming, a little bit difficult to get, but really charming. And I think after that, you know, I was really able to see more movies in English with English subtitles, you know, to start immersing myself more into kind of English based English language, culture from Hollywood or from whatever country and from there I think, for the past eight years, basically I have been abroad in an English speaking country. So in India, English is one of the main languages in Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East, English is the main language as well. In England. Well, OK, Manchester, I don't know (laughter)
Nahum - Natural: Mancunian, English
Clement: Mancunian English and Canada, so obviously, you know, being able to speak English got me my first job abroad, right? I think when when you are not able to go through the basics or when you struggle through the basics, that's really a barrier. And as you go along, you know, you have to learn everything. So for the two years I worked in France, at the beginning of my career, I learned all the terms of public transportation in French. So everything I understood in French and then all of a sudden I needed to translate all this in English. And as I move from country to country, I realized even in English, from country to country, you use different words for the same same things in public transport. So it's an ever learning process.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah. Never, never stops, right?
Nahum - Natural: Yeah, yeah. So lastly, if you were to give someone a piece of advice, someone who is interested in your industry or general project management, and they feel that English is a barrier to them, is there a piece of advice that you would give on how they can start maybe developing a habit or doing something which can help them get to that place where they can work in that industry?
Clement: I think so... I'm taking it from a more from a personal side than a professional side the idea, the idea of learning a new language is to break down barriers of communication. And the beauty of that is really to be able to relate to other cultures and other people worldwide. And it really is what allows you to actually discover a lot of the things that are hidden behind the language or even to judge your own culture and to try to get a little bit of perspective. So I would say one of the key motivator, I think, in learning a new language is frustration. You know, when when I relate back to when I was 16 years old back in England on myself. You're very frustrated that you cannot relate to people. I mean, you want to order your food, you know, it's very difficult, you know. No, I don't want this. I want that.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah
Clement: And so frustration is a big I think is a big motivational input, you know. And the second one is when I look at how I learned then after Spanish, I think, you know, having a strong motivation is also helpful. So both of these and the last one is practice. I mean, a language is like a bicycle, right? If the bicycle stops, you fall. Right. Unless you put your feet out or something. And it needs to be it needs to be in movement to stay to stay stable. And and that's the same thing with language. As soon as you stop practicing the language, as soon as you decrease the practice, it starts decreasing. And so getting getting to the professional world with English for me on my journey was really through my pleasure, actually. So through watching movies, reading books, everything that I really enjoy doing, I did it in English so that I get more vocabulary. I start to learn more, etc etc. but I'm very good at learning by myself, which is not the case of everyone. And so doing that, and in addition to having, you know, a bit of support from a teacher or from a school that gives you, you know, the direction, you know, what are the priorities to learn. And that's really, I think are definitely helpful.
Nahum - Natural: Yeah, that's great. I love the analogy. You put it very beautifully, very French, you know, make a beautiful analogy, language is like a bike, you don't want to fall off. But it is true. You have to constantly brush up on your your language, which means put it in practice and do something with the language and yeah, doing something you enjoy with the language is obviously a way to motivate yourself. I often watch football in a different language so I can - because I love football, things like that.
Nahum - Natural: Great. Thank you so much. It's been great to speak to you. Your advice was really good and you've had a very interesting career. As I mentioned, this is probably the peak now appearing on the Natural Podcast. I mean, good luck. Good luck in the future projects as well.
Clement: Thank you very much. And it was a pleasure talking to you.
Nahum - Natural: Thanks to everyone who's been listening as well. There is transcripts available on the site, on the website linguanaturalis.com Or you can go to the website in the description. And there's also a list of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation which will be formed off of our conversation today. So be sure to check it out and check out the next episode. Thank you Clement, see you soon!
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The Natural English Podcast is the podcast where we hear success stories from beyond the English language barrier. Be inspired by other people’s journey with English and study along with the transcript, corrections, and homework tasks.
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