Icebreaker 26, September 2017

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Welcome to the September 2017 issue of Icebreaker, the STP newsletter.

In this edition, we decide to go even greener by ramping up our efforts to make the planet a better place to live. We meet Ida Berntzen, one of our new account linguists from Norway who rejected a job offer in Malta to work for STP in England. We talk about industry conferences and whether they are a worthwhile investment of our time and resources. And we investigate the Nordic penchant for crustaceans, shellfish, schnapps and song.

Company News

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It’s official – STP is even greener

Although our staff satisfaction survey showed that most STP staff recognise that we are already environmentally responsible, we knew we could do better and enthusiastically embraced the challenge to prove it.

The first step was to launch an official policy in a bid to further reduce our environmental impact and do the right thing for the planet.

Volunteers from each of our offices were appointed ‘Green Champions’ and tasked with taking up the cause and promoting it within their work communities. Duties included providing guidance about recycling, organising social events with an environmental focus and working with suppliers to ensure that the products and services STP buys are in line with our environmental aspirations.

We set up an ‘Environmental Agenda’ group on our in-house social media platform where staff put forward ideas and suggestions on how to recycle waste and make better decisions with the long-term future of our planet in mind.

We encouraged a paperless office, investigated our heating and lighting practices and proposed more staff took public transport, rode bicycles to work or worked remotely to reduce vehicle emissions.

We signed up for next year’s Plastic Challenge, run by the Marine Conservation Society, and we participated in this year’s #2minutebeachclean, an initiative launched in 2014 aimed at reducing marine litter and plastic pollution on beaches.

We are very proud of how this initiative has been embraced at STP and we will continue to make improvements to all of our practices.

Photo: Staff at STP’s Varna (Bulgaria) office get involved in the #2minutebeachclean.

Staff Spotlight

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Ida Berntzen – Norwegian account linguist

In this month’s Staff Spotlight, we meet one of our new account linguists, Ida Berntzen. Ida joined STP in July.

1: Which languages can you speak?

Norwegian, English and a little Swedish.

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

I remember wanting to be a photographer, a game designer, a writer and a language interpreter during my teens. During the 90s, however, I wanted to be a Spice Girl.

3: How did you end up working in the translation industry?

After my degree, I worked as a teacher before deciding to further my academic studies in the UK. I had been thinking about working as a translator for some time, so I applied for some part and full-time jobs, and now I’m here. I could have gone to Malta, as I was offered a position there too, but I really wanted to work for STP. Although Malta sounds nice and sunny, I really don’t mind the English summer rain.

4: What is your favourite part of your role?

The fact that my focus for translation and revision is Norwegian nynorsk (New Norwegian or New Norse, is one of the two written standards of the Norwegian language, the other being Bokmål). It is such a beautiful and underappreciated language. I feel that by translating into Norwegian nynorsk, I do something important because I kind of participate in protecting and promoting it.

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

Book editor. It would be fun to be the first to read and publish some new up-and-coming author.

6: How are you finding life in the UK and what, if anything, do you miss from home?

I knew I would enjoy living in the UK, because during my studies I spent a semester in Scotland. I miss the common Norwegian style of winged clothes airers. They just make more sense to me. And they’re sturdy.

7: If you could wake up and be fluent in a new language, what would it be?

That is a hard question. It should be something cool and special, like Icelandic, but I would really like to be fluent in Spanish.

8: Machine translation. Friend or foe?

Its intention is to help people, and a foe wouldn’t do that, so I’m going to say friend.

9: Which three words describe your personality the most?

Curious, practical and proactive.

10: How do you unwind at the end of a long day?

I eat strawberry skyr with blueberries while watching NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).

Photo: Ida Berntzen

Industry Issues

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Conferences – A Yawn or a Dawn?

Industry conferences make regular appearances in our calendars. In fact, STP has attended ten to date with another seven to attend before the end of the year.

But are conferences a headache or are they a valuable resource that we, as language service providers, could do well to embrace enthusiastically?

The ‘Yes’ camp and the ‘No’ camp

Here at STP, we are firmly in the ‘Yes’ camp. We love a good conference and attend as many as is realistic. And we encourage others to do so, too.

But there are those in the ‘No’ camp who lament that you don’t learn anything from a conference that you can’t find out with a few clicks of a mouse. The ones who say that conference presentations are often inspirational, but usually unactionable.

This is correct to a certain degree, but it ultimately misses the point of what a conference is all about.

A conference is a meeting of people who confer about a topic.

The key word here is ‘people’. Conferences gather like-minded, knowledgeable and influential industry figures under one roof where we can pick each other’s brains, sound each other out and develop and maintain connections we would never be able to do over email, phone and Skype.

STP’s Anu Carnegie Brown and Maria Lindley are seasoned conference goers, and are both convinced of the inherent value of conferencing.

Managing Director, Anu Carnegie-Brown, said she had learned a lot from conference presentations over the years. But the learning came from how she interpreted the presentation’s content rather than the content itself.

‘’The point of the presentations isn’t just to sit and take notes, it’s about hearing the ideas and exploring them in your own way. Adapting what you hear to suit your business model,’’ she said.

‘’Some translation industry speakers act as teachers; they share the factual details of what they have done themselves, or what has helped them, and they do it openly and generously. Others are more like motivational speakers.’’

Sometimes you learn the most useful information by chatting with your peers during breaks and at after-event social gatherings, according to Anu.

‘’Everyone shares more freely one-to-one, without the pressure of a large audience. It’s important to spend time with people; gain their trust and respect,’’ she said.

Although the social aspects of a conference are important, Anu stressed that a wise conference goer should never underestimate the value of the programme content.

‘’A committed professional will turn up at the early morning presentations regardless of how late they stayed up the night before,” she said.

Conference tips

STP Client Services Manager, Maria Lindley, sees conferencing as an invaluable networking opportunity and has a few tips for doubtful conference goers.

‘’Go into a conference with a clear agenda. You are there to see what the industry is saying and doing, and the presentations are a great way of doing that. Identify the sessions you will get the most out of and attend them, and spend the rest of the time talking to people. These conversations hold great value and opportunities can arise when you least expect it – from a quick coffee, a dinner conversation, even a brief chat in the lunch queue,’’ she said.

Maria said it was important for conference attendees to use the opportunity to meet new people.

‘’Try to meet a few presenters or other industry figures you know are attending, and take the opportunity to catch up with any clients that may be there. Arrange some meetings in advance, but also make use of the informal setting a conference offers. And always attend the conference dinner,’’ she stressed.

Whether you see a conference as a waste of time, a necessary evil or a fantastic business opportunity depends entirely on how you approach the concept.

And with that said, we look forward to seeing you at the ATC conference in London in September, ELIA ND in Bucharest, Tekom in Stuttgart, LocWorld35 in Silicon Valley and the NTIF in Helsinki.

Photo: Conferences can provide a host of business opportunities if you approach them with an open mind.

Nordic Focus

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Crayfish, anyone?

By Didde Gaardsted

Kräftskiva, kräftkalas, krepsefest, or kräftfest, we have many names for the things we love, and in Sweden, Finland, Norway and to a lesser extent, Denmark, one thing is certain: there’s no party like a crayfish party.

Late summer is upon us, and as every season comes with its own set of region- and country-specific traditions, so too do August and September bear a special significance for the people in the Nordic countries. These months mark the peak season for crayfishing and are celebrated across the region with feasts where the beer and schnapps flow and family and friends enthusiastically partake in culinary crustacean creations – or basically, crayfish (and other crustaceans) aplenty.
A crayfish party will typically take place in the great outdoors, sat at long benches where there is room for everyone, not least the guests of honour, the crayfish themselves. The two-legged guests are encouraged to don funny hats and a bib, often decorated with a crayfish or two, to mark the occasion.

The crayfish are typically served cold, and as the stars of the show, they are often only accompanied by crispbread, cheese, mayonnaise, maybe a Swedish cheese pie (a lovely savoury pie not to be mistaken for the equally scrumptious cheesecake) and of course the aforementioned beverages.
And last but not least there is song! Yes, a song is as essential at a crayfish party as it is in life, and when the schnapps comes out a traditional jaunty tune will inevitably follow. How can we argue with the guys and gals of ABBA who once asked: without a song or a dance what are we?
So, the next time you find yourself in the Nordic countries in August or September, pack a funny hat, a festive bib, a voracious appetite for crustaceans and prepare your windpipe for some exuberant singing. You won’t regret it.

 Photo: It’s crayfish party time in the Nordic region.

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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