Icebreaker 25, May 2017

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Welcome to the twenty-fifth issue of Icebreaker, the STP newsletter.

In this edition, we have news of a glorious STP double at the ITI awards. The staff spotlight shines on Natali Dimitrova, from our Varna office, who gives us a Bulgarian perspective on life at STP. Raisa McNab, our quality queen, runs the rule over industry standards. And as translators across the Nordic region get set for their holidays, we explain why now is the time to start planning your summer projects involving DA, FI, IS, NO and SV.

Company News

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Two STP translators honoured in ITI awards

We’re incredibly proud to tell you that two of our in-house translators were honoured in the Institute of Translation & Interpreting’s (ITI) annual awards earlier in May.

Danish translator Junie Kristine Haller took the prize for Best newcomer – employee of a corporate member, while Swedish account linguist Jonas Fust received a special commendation in the same category.

STP was invited to nominate two translators for the Best newcomer – employee of a corporate member category. Nominees must have been working as translators or interpreters for two years or less, and must be employed by an ITI corporate member.

Of all our eligible employees, Junie and Jonas were the two outstanding candidates for nomination.

Junie joined STP in May 2016 as a freshly graduated junior translator. Since then, she has impressed everyone in the company with the speed of her development, becoming a skilled, productive and fearlessly confident member of our Danish team.

Jonas, meanwhile, was nominated for excelling in all areas of his role, which is a demanding mix of translation and project management. In just under a year with STP, Jonas has established himself as a rock in our Swedish team, and is particularly valued for his calm demeanour and committed approach.

“As a fledgling translator, who came into the translation industry more or less by chance, I feel extremely honoured to receive such an accolade from such a respected association,” Junie said of winning the award.

“Receiving this award has convinced me that I have found my vocation, and I am very happy to have been given the opportunity and the support that made this possible.”

For more about the ITI Awards, including a full list of winners, visit http://www.iti.org.uk/news-media-industry-jobs/news/851-award-winners-celebrate-at-gala-dinner

Staff Spotlight

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Q&A with Natali Dimitrova, Client Services Assistant

Natali, which languages can you speak?

Bulgarian is my mother tongue but I often prefer to think and express myself in English, since I started studying the language when I was five. I also learned the basics of Russian at primary school and took French for four years in high school.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I’ve always felt a natural need to help others, and when I was little I thought this could help me become a successful doctor. But as the years passed I realised that biology and chemistry weren’t for me, and I ended up getting a degree in international and European law – allowing me to help people in a different way.

How did you end up working in the translation industry?

My curiosity and thirst for new challenges led me here. After living and working in the Netherlands for six years, mainly in legal roles, I decided to move back to Bulgaria and explore other opportunities. I eventually found my current role, at STP’s Varna office, and I’m so glad I did. There’s a very friendly atmosphere around the translation industry, which has been a nice surprise and a change from what I’d been used to before.

What does your job involve exactly?

My main responsibility is to help clients: help them find STP, help them identify which of our offerings will best suit their needs, help them get registered in our database and ensure that all paperwork is reviewed and signed. I also work on various ad-hoc projects with crossover between the client services and production departments.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The chance to help people – though you’d probably guessed that already! As a lawyer at heart, I also really enjoy the negotiation side of the job.

If you could have another job for just one day, what would it be?

Within STP, I don’t think there’s a better job for me than the one I have now. Otherwise, I could see myself being a personal coach for a day.

As a Bulgarian working for a Nordic translation company, have you noticed any cultural differences between you and your colleagues?

Just one. Here in Bulgaria the professional environment is very formal, whereas the atmosphere within STP is much friendlier and more relaxed. It may have something to do with the kind and open nature of Nordic people.

If you could have a professional superpower, what would it be?

The ability to read clients’ minds. Although, on second thoughts, that would actually take away half the fun of my job.

If you could wake up and be fluent in a new language, which would you choose and why?

The classical Chinese in which “Tao Te Ching” was written. It’s often described as the greatest book ever written, and I’d love to be able to fully grasp the wisdom of each and every word.

How do you unwind after a busy day?

With yoga, meditation and a good book.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without

Books and motivational videos. That’s two things, I know, but they are my guide in life.

Your dream travel destination?

I want to go everywhere in Bulgaria.

Where is your favourite place to be?

Here and now.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“This too shall pass.”

Describe STP in one word

NORDIC!

Industry Issues

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There’s nothing standard about industry standards

By Raisa McNab, Quality & Training Manager at STP

I’m sure you don’t often stop to think about how quality standards affect your everyday life. And why would you?

Yet standards help prevent your electric toothbrush from exploding in your face while you brush your teeth. They save you from a nervous breakdown at the hardware store when you’re searching for a replacement for a leaking tap that will actually fit the existing installation.

And think how life would be today if, back in 1791, the French Academy of Sciences hadn’t proposed that the metre be equal to one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant along the Earth’s meridian through Paris (that’s the distance from the equator to the north pole, to you and me).

In the translation industry, what would we do without XLIFF, the XML Localisation Interchange File Format, that has since 2002 allowed us to CAT-hop and interoperate in ways that proprietary file formats never could have?

Helping to set the bar

Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in the development of emerging language industry ISO standards together with the UK Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and its ISO standards committee.

You may be excused for thinking that the work must get a bit tedious at times, but you’d be surprised how heated the exchanges can get over definitions of terms, or translator qualifications. It’s serious business!

Of course, it’s a completely different matter to be working with standards on tangible, physical things, compared to the translation and localisation services that we produce.

When the translation services standard ISO 17100 came out in 2015, there was much discussion and criticism of its contents and requirements. And I’m sure the newly published ISO 18587 on machine translation post-editing will also spark debate – especially considering how quickly the field develops.

None of the standards specific to our industry is perfect, nor can there ever be a one-size-fits-all solution. But to me, that’s fine.

Standards are there to set a bar. And while that bar may only apply to a part of the range of services we provide and sell these days, it also wouldn’t make any sense to have standards that say “Do what you like”.

I believe these emerging language industry standards are part of a larger trend of professionalisation in the industry. They help raise its profile, which in turn benefits everyone from the lone freelance translator to the multinational localisation company.

It’s an exciting time for our profession, and I feel privileged to be part of it.

Raisa McNab is the ATC’s lead on standards

Nordic Focus

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How your LSP can beat the Nordic summer shutdown

There’s something you should know about people from the Nordic countries. And it’s something that could save you – and your clients – a lot of bother over the next three to four months.

You see, Danes, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes take summertime very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they spend much of it off work.

Indeed, from mid-June until late August, businesses in the Nordic region effectively shut down, as employees take their generous holiday allowances and head off for long, uninterrupted summer breaks.

Summer loving: it’s the law

In Sweden, employees are entitled by law to four consecutive weeks of holiday over the summer season.

And it’s a similar picture in Denmark, Finland and Norway, where many people take the entire month of July off to enjoy the long-awaited lighter days and warmer weather.

Freelance translators don’t have the same privileges as salaried employees, of course. But since pretty much everyone else in the Nordic region shuts down for the summer, it makes sense for them to do the same.

With no holiday limit, those freelancers who can afford to are free to stay off work for the whole season. And many of them do just that.

Lucky them. Now remind me how this helps me?

Armed with this knowledge, you now have the chance to plan ahead for the summer.

Do your clients have any Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish projects in the pipeline? Now’s the time to ask them, so that you can start sourcing suppliers for the summer period.

It’s also a chance to manage your customers’ expectations. Nordic translation projects often take longer than usual during the summer months, given the shortage of suppliers, and urgent jobs can be tricky to place.

Make your clients aware of this now, give them time to plan, and you may be able to save both them and yourself a few headaches further down the line.

The Scandis who will be working this summer

At STP, we specialise in the Nordic languages. But because we’re based in the UK, we’re open for business all year round.

We have 20 years’ experience of the Nordic niche – and we’ve helped our clients through more than a few tricky summers in that time.

We employ 70+ full-time in-house linguists and work with 1,000+ qualified freelancers. And while they all become extremely busy in the summer months, we are still better placed to meet your needs and deadlines than most non-specialist agencies.

So if you’re keen to beat the annual Nordic shutdown, please drop us an email today – and let us help you get a headstart on summer.

Feedback

If you have any feedback about this issue of Icebreaker, or if you’d like to suggest a topic for a future edition, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us your thoughts and ideas by email.

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