Icebreaker 13, December 2013

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Welcome to the thirteenth issue of Icebreaker, the STP newsletter.

Last month, the members of the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) elected Jesper to their Board of Directors for the 2014–2015 term. Very appreciative of the trust bestowed upon him by this global translation community, Jesper is looking forward to contributing to the industry via GALA whilst also continuing in his role as the Vice Chairman of the UK ATC.

Company news

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Keen To Be Lean

In May 2012, STP Nordic acquired Tranflex AB. The main strategic reason behind the acquisition was the two companies’ shared focus on working for other LSPs, mainly in the Nordic languages and English, and utilising an in-house translator model. However, Tranflex AB also had a small portfolio of direct clients that we continued to serve after the acquisition while the management team was pondering on what to do with such a legacy. In the end, we decided to look for a Swedish LSP that would be interested in taking over the work from us since we felt that the direct clients would be better served by a company already experienced in attending to this kind of client portfolio and wanting to grow it.

After discussions with many of the key players in the Swedish market, we eventually found a buyer amongst our old acquaintances, and the deal was concluded in November 2013. Jesper and Chris spent a couple of days in Sweden handing over the work, explaining the workflows and providing training on STP’s technical solutions. It was good to hear of the buyer’s plans for these new clients and we wish them every success with their keen key account and project management effort. For STP, this deal is another milestone in our endeavours to achieve a lean operation and focus on our core business: serving over 300 translation company clients.

Staff News

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Taking Care Of Business

Having spent the last year helping to integrate her former company, Simply English International (SEI), as a new division of STP specialising in translations into English (STP English), Rachel Stockley is now moving into the role of Client Services Manager for STP as a whole.

Although she has always had a profound interest in languages, Rachel’s qualifications are in marketing and mathematics, providing her with a strong foundation for a career in business analysis and development – two areas of business that she enjoys the most.

She began her professional life as an investment analyst but moved quickly into marketing where, despite her young age, her eye for detail and astute commercial aptitude led to her being appointed as the pricing manager for a manufacturing company with responsibility for influencing sales of over USD 515 million throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2006, she relocated to Dubai for three years where she worked as a marketing consultant, and it was there that her natural entrepreneurial drive led her to found SEI after she identified a gap in the market for high quality into-English translation and editing services. Initially started as a hobby, SEI soon began to grow as Rachel’s reputation for quality, strong communication skills and dedication to customer service spread amongst her clients.

Here at STP, we appreciate the importance and value of every single one of our clients. We take pride in doing all we can to support them, developing solutions and even adapting our systems and processes to suit our clients’ specific requirements. Our aim is always to build long-lasting relationships based on mutual trust, respect and our willingness to go the extra mile.
With the high growth STP has seen over the past 12 months, resulting from two new business acquisitions, 65 new clients and the introduction of a wide range of additional language combinations offered through STP English, we recognise that making sure our clients’ needs are given the attention they deserve has now become a full-time job. Rachel’s past experience and the passion she has demonstrated for providing exceptional client service make her an ideal choice for the role.

Industry issues

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Beyond Translation

When I visit universities to talk to translation students about working in the industry, it is apparent that they have only a limited idea of the options available to them in the commercial world. But that is all about to change. In my dealings with academic institutions from now on, I will urge both the students and teaching staff to get hold of a copy of Nicole Y. Adams’ book ‘Diversification in the Language Industry – Success Beyond Translation’, published by NYA Communications in November 2013. After that, I will hopefully never again have to deal with the question “what else is there to do but to translate?”.

The book was not written for students or academia; it aims to encourage freelance translators to adopt diversification as a risk-reduction strategy, helping them to safeguard against boredom, plummeting word rates, social isolation or potential lack of income at times of physical strain or injury. Nicole has done a brilliant job in examining the views of 250 practising freelance translators and putting together an almost exhaustive collection of articles and interviews by some of the brightest and most engaging professionals in the translation community today. Demonstrating the global nature of that community, the 50 linguists contributing to the book represent different parts of the world, yet are well-known to us as bloggers, conference speakers, trainers or active members in our associations. Some of them I have even met personally. A few of them write about the current trends and best practices in the industry, whilst others share their own success story in diversifying their services. For many, it was not a planned course of action but rather a decision to develop new skills in response to a call for them.

In analysing their stories, Nicole determines and demonstrates a diversification strategy for freelancers who already operate a solid translation business. The progression path goes from ‘Translation’ to ‘Linguistic Diversification’ (examples of this include editing texts written by non-native speakers, machine translation post-editing, voice-over, subtitling, transcription, transcreation, copywriting, cross-cultural consulting, linguistic validation, language teaching and interpreting); to ‘Extra-Linguistic Diversification’ (project management, strategic alliances with fellow freelancers, blogging, social media, online marketing, specialisation in domains and differentiation from competition); to ‘Passive Diversification’ (turning the standard time-based translation activity into a product that only needs to be produced once and then resold multiple times e.g. publications, continuing professional development or online training courses); to ‘External Diversification’ (offering specialised services to fellow translation professionals e.g. coaching, business training, consultation, DTP or public speaking) and finally to ‘Distinctive Diversification’ (creating a unique service or product e.g. Mox’s Blog – comic books about the life of a translator; Translator Pay – a foreign exchange and money transfer service; Translators Without Borders – a non-profit global aid organisation; or Rainy London Branding – an identity and branding consultancy for translators).

This inspiring collection of real-life testimonies is a tribute to the agility and innovation of professionals tackling an inevitable change in the circumstances affecting their working lives. Although the translation industry will undoubtedly continue to flourish due to the increasing data volume on a global scale, a generalist translator with purely linguistic expertise may struggle to find satisfactory demand for their services in the face of technological advancements and new consumer expectations. None of the writers of this book wishes to compel translators to abandon the occupation they love and have invested years in training for, but diversification will certainly help all of us to find our niche in the brave new translation world.

Nordic focus

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Salty Sweet

Here at STP, a member of staff’s safe return from annual leave often heralds the arrival of a tub of salty liquorice on the lunchroom table. The Nordic employees obviously crave the stuff the same way other people are addicted to more common sweets, but how does it taste to someone without Viking heritage? Our in-house translator Siân Mackie, born and bred in the UK, explains:

For many people, the appeal of salty liquorice lies more in the faces pulled by their co-workers after spotting this Nordic oddity than in the item itself. Dividing opinion since the 1930s, reactions to it range from utter delight to the complete disappearance of any facial feature whatsoever as people attempt to prevent it from entering their systems by any means.
Thought to have originally been developed as a kind of cough medicine – which makes sense really if you stop to consider its similarity to some varieties of Lancashire’s famous sinus-debunging Fisherman’s Friends, which also have a select and dedicated fan base – salty liquorice has long been sold across the Nordic region as confectionary. Nowadays our Nordic cousins take great delight in feeding it to unsuspecting visitors, who, after a brief moment of watery-eyed assessment, will either spit it across the room or offer up a determined ‘it’s getting better’ before soon being a firm convert to its disputed delights.

However, despite this clear divide, salty liquorice has slowly but surely been sneaking its way onto shelves in sweetshops up and down the UK. One might attribute this to our current and apparent obsession with all things Nordic, but really, who would go so far as to eat something just because Harry Hole, Kurt Wallander or Sarah Lund happens to favour it? There can only be one explanation really: it’s tasty stuff, and a conversation starter to boot, so why not give it a try?

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