Back to Blog

My Journey Into Globalization

May 21, 2024 • by Aaron Presley

I'd been a Software Engineer for nearly 10 years when I had a recruiter call me to talk about a job opportunity they thought I would be a fit for. It was for Nike, on their Globalization Team.

I knew what the practice of Globalization was within computer science (or I thought I did). It was the perfect chance to work for a large company doing something new and interesting.

Many phone screens and panel interviews later, I landed the job that would forever change the trajectory of my career.

My team and I (third from left) and the Nike HQ

It turns out that I didn't know what globalization was. Not really. I had no idea the amount of technical effort going into enabling human scripts to be sent over the internet or even copy-and-pasted. Even sorting worked differently than I ever knew!

Nike was present in 20+ languages and countries. I had the great fortune of being assigned some really tricky issues faced, and each language would present its own unique problems that we hadn't previously encountered.

For example, our design teams often wanted developers to use all uppercase letters when the word "NIKE" appeared in text. Easy enough. However that would turn into NİKE for our friends in Turkey (note the dot above the I).

I recall doing a multi-week deep dive on not only the Turkish alphabet, but figuring out a way to fix this problem without requiring a redeployment of each and every team's codebase (that's 1,000+ codebases). Fortunately we found a solution in the end.

Ultimately, gaining a deep understanding of globalization helped me truly understand the depth that language has on us humans. I came to feel that dedicating my career to helping companies grow in this area would be the best thing I could possibly do to encourage diversity of human thought in the field of software engineering.

I love teaching engineers about Globalization, and I love seeing the moment it clicks in their mind. That moment they realize that there is a deep, vast area of practice here; just under the surface, waiting to help them understand their fellow-human just a little bit better.