A company’s 20th anniversary is a really important thing: So much time spent together, so much effort put into making things happen. As you have probably seen on our social media platforms, we have decided to celebrate ours in a big fashion. But beyond the cute pictures on our Facebook and LinkedIn walls lives our company’s history. That is why we decided to hold an interview with the entire TextTrans team to learn more about their beginnings, the risks that were taken, the fears and the team spirit, and more.
Robert: Okay, TextTrans. Congratulations on your 20 years in business. How is everybody feeling today? Claudio, how are you feeling on this fantastic anniversary?
Claudio: Well, I am on cloud nine, it is a great feeling. To be honest, I never really expected all of this to happen! I mean, that I would be here, in this position, 20 years later! 20 years ago, I was working in another company and I never really thought about starting a business; it all happened so fast!
Robert: Tell us where you were 20 years ago. What was happening? What was going on?
Claudio: I had decided that I was going to go back to Brazil. I went to see my boss at the time, Robin Hilliard, to tell him that, and he said: “Well, I’m actually going to sell the business, so maybe you would like to take over the translation side of the business. You can set your business and I can recommend to our clients that they can continue to work with you.” And, of course, I was delighted with it and had no doubts about starting the new business myself.
Robert: Were you nervous about starting the company? Did you have any worries?
Claudio: I didn’t have time to think! I was so shocked! I guess, at some point, I wondered if I would be able to do it and how long it might all last!
Robert: Are you still asking the same questions? How long will it all last?
Claudio: No, now I think we are pretty happy about where we are today. The girls and I always said we wanted to have a healthy but smaller business. We never wanted to get big to the point where we lost sight of providing good service and having great relationships with our clients and translators! And I think we now produce enough to keep us happy. In the beginning, I found it pretty hard to delegate things and to let people do other things, but I learnt how to do it better and I am glad that now we have a great team that I can rely on!
Robert: Let’s ask a few things to Tatiana, Fabiana, and Samanta. Tatiana, is Claudio a control freak sometimes?
Tatiana: Hahaha, sometimes!
Robert: Tatiana, when did you join the business? How did you join the company?
Tatiana: I joined the company in 2003 when I came to Dublin to learn English. My sister was working for Claudio but had to leave and I took over her tasks. At that time, I did invoices and bookkeeping. Bit by bit, Claudio taught me things. I started to help him with language coordination and eventually I became a PM.
Robert: And what about the work, has it changed since you started or are they pretty much the same challenges?
Tatiana: To be honest, the industry has changed completely – we do everything differently now!
Robert: Okay. Were you happy then when Samanta and Fabiana joined the team? Who joined after you? Who came next? Samanta, tell us about your experience. When did you join and what’s it been like for you so far?
Samanta: Well, I came to Dublin to study English, and Claudio asked me to help Tatiana with some small things. So, in the morning I went to my English classes and in the afternoon I worked for TextTrans. I started by doing word counts, some reporting and bookkeeping. Tatiana and Claudio taught me a lot of things and after a while, Claudio gave me my first account, my first client, and eventually, I also became a PM.
Robert: Do you remember which client it was?
Samanta: Yes. It was Lexmark.
Tatiana: And Lexmark was also my first account!
Robert: See: there’s a tradition there! That was a lucky omen. Did you have nightmares about Lexmark in your sleep sometimes?
Samanta: Oh, no. I loved it; it was exciting to be working directly with a client.
Robert: Who is easier to work for? Tatiana or Claudio?
Samanta: I don’t know. Maybe Tati, because I learned directly from her and so we work in a very similar way together!
Robert: These days you probably don’t need Claudio’s help as much, right? You’re probably super independent!
Samanta: Well, Claudio still supervises a lot of the work we do and he shares important and very helpful inputs, but we are pretty much independent.
Robert: That’s great. Thank you, Samanta. What about you, Fabiana, when did you join the business?
Fabiana: I started doing only a few hours a week, also with invoicing, bookkeeping and other small things to help Samanta and Tatiana.
Robert: Everybody seems to start with the invoices! And now, Fabiana, you do a lot of work with the translators as well, right? How is recruitment?
Fabiana: Yes, I’m still working a bit with invoicing but I also work in talent search. I contact translators, organize rates, tests, NDA, and so on.
Robert: How important are the translators when it comes to the business? And what are the biggest challenges when it comes to the external team?
Claudio: Ah, well, they are the main producers of our service, of our product. So, they’re very important. We spend a lot of time recruiting, testing and monitoring our team. We also work on building up the relationships with them over a long period of time!
This is not easy, because they also have to adapt to our way of work. Most of them are very easy-going, and we have absolutely no problem. But some adjustments aren’t as easy for all of them, and one of the main difficulties is communication.
Robert: And are there people who started off as bad communicators and then turned into good communicators because of working with you?
Tatiana: I can think of two cases of bad communicators who became great communicators! I suppose our training did work.
Robert: It seems to me that the relationships between you and the translators are very strong. I know some of the translators have been working with for a long time and that there’s a lot of respect and kindness involved. I suppose this is different for translators who work for really big companies, where they are one in maybe 500 or 600. Whereas in TextTrans it’s a much smaller team, and there’s more regular contact with the project managers.
Tatiana: Yes, I agree with you. We know them very well, and I think we understand each other’s challenges and problems!
Robert: Yeah, it’s a human industry.
Samanta: We understand, for example, that the deadlines sometimes can be hard to meet, especially for those linguists with family demands! But, somehow, we always manage to find a solution!
Robert: What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever received from a translator for not delivering a job?
Claudio: So many, but one that is very recurrent is the weather! That is often an issue! And it’s valid since whenever it rains in Brazil the power can go down, or people can have internet problems! Sometimes we wonder if these are real issues or just excuses! 😉. Anyway, we always find ways of sorting things out. Also, I believe that the best way to proceed is to tell the client the truth. Sometimes we miss an email or the translator delays the delivery… These things happen… I believe we should tell the truth to our clients.
Robert: Thank you, Claudio. Patricia, you are a translator, right? Do you come from a translation background?
Patricia: Yes, I studied translation at university, then I started working right after graduation in a translation company here in my city.
Robert: So my question for you is: do you find that the clients are more demanding these days than they were in the past? Is there more to do? Is it harder or more complicated?
Patricia: I don’t think we can say that it is harder. The demands are simply different. In the past, clients focused very much on accuracy and mistakes we could avoid using resource books. Nowadays, they have been focusing on conventional and natural language. They do not want literal, word for word translations. This is hard because it is a completely different skill that we need to acquire as translators, and it’s not something that we can do very fast. It requires training and a lot of experience. This is probably something every translator struggles with nowadays.
Robert: And it’s very subjective as well, right? Because everybody has an opinion on what’s right.
Patricia: Yes. It’s something that we are still learning as an industry to agree on, to identify what exactly is “word for word” and what is something that is just a preference. It will still take some time for us to define these things clearly.
Robert: Thank you, Patricia. So if you guys had a superpower or a magic wand that you could use within TextTrans to make everything easier, what would you change? What would you do?
Samanta: I would like to be super fast, maybe have more hands! I would use two hands for emails, two for file analysis and two for project management!
Robert: That would be fantastic, I am sure. What about you, Lau, what would be your superpower?
Lau: I would like to be super fast, too. Then I could immediately accept all of the jobs we receive notifications for! Because every time we get to the portals, the jobs are already gone!
Robert: We would surely all like that! And Lau, you’re one of the newer people on the team, how has your experience been with TextTrans so far?
Lau: Very very nice! I have learned a lot! Claudio sometimes has to remind me to do things in a particular way, and I learn a lot from him and from all the team! I am very grateful for that and I’m really having a good time. I am used to working with people in an office, so that’s my only complaint.
Robert: Lau, you’re based in Barcelona, right? Are you planning to visit the office in Dublin?
Lau: I don’t know, maybe after COVID-19 is gone for sure. I would like that.
Robert: Thank you, Lau. Claudio, it’s a very competitive industry and space that you’re working in. How do you make sure that TextTrans stands out?
Claudio: I think it’s all about our process. The girls started in the company doing more or less the same things. Then, they learnt different parts of the business. By moving organically from one job to another, they gained a lot of experience at doing almost everything.
Because of this, they can offer a good service for our clients, and also for our translators. For example, Samanta came in knowing very little, but she went on to learn so many different tools and how to use them. Now she can help the translators to get the most out of the different technologies that our clients require.
The interaction that they have with our translators and clients is great. They really know the business and that is one of our main assets.
Having this close contact with the translators is great because they have a lot of respect for us and I would even say friendship. For example, I see this from a lot of the emails we have received recently congratulating us for our anniversary.
They say that TextTrans is not only a company that they work for but more like a family that they collaborate with. That is exactly how we like to think about ourselves and also how we act towards them. The same applies to our clients.
Robert: Do you feel appreciated by the customers and the clients you work for?
Claudio: Yes, because they keep on counting on us! We are not the cheapest in the market (nor the most expensive); we know that. So if they keep doing business with us, that must mean we are doing things right. I think that a lot of clients appreciate our work and how we deal with things. Today, I received an email from a client wishing us congratulations, and she mentioned that she started working with me when I was a freelancer, more than 20 years ago, so that means I did something right since she still remembers me and likes to work with me.
Robert: That’s good. As we said earlier, there’s been lots of changes in the industry. What changes do people like the most? What technological advance or change you guys like the most in your jobs these days?
Claudio: Fast Internet is one of the greatest things we have now. Before, we used to have issues to send a large file attached to an email or to download big files. Nowadays it is much easier.
Patricia: QA tools such as Xbench are a great addition to the final quality of our work. Although we try hard to maintain consistency and avoid typos and so on, sometimes these things happen, and these tools do an excellent job of double-checking it in the end.
Robert: Very good. Now let’s talk about the TextTrans’ logo and website. Can you let us know a little about it?
Claudio: Well, I’ve always appreciated Oscar Niemeyer’s work. I really like architecture and think his buildings are incredible. They are very graceful and beautiful. He used to say that there are no straight lines in nature, so he always had some sort of curves somewhere in his buildings. In one of my trips to Rio de Janeiro, I had the opportunity of visiting the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum. I fell in love with it, with how it was built using the lines of the nature surrounding it. And that’s where the logo came from.
I also love the colour red, and that is the colour of the ramp to go up to the building; it reminds us of a red carpet. I don’t want to get political, but I have never been a big nationalist, and since the colours of the Brazilian flag (green and yellow) were hijacked by the current president and their supporters, I didn’t want them on my website (the website was developed around the same time as the Brazilian election). It is my way of saying “no, I don’t support him.” It is a statement.
I also like photography and I think we picked some great photos to show a modern and colourful side of our business.
Part 2 of our interview will be coming soon!
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