Translators United-ATC Conference 2015!

20 10 2015

Just a few thoughts on the Association of Translators annual conference 2015 (aka the 2015 Language Industry Summit) which took place at the end of last month in Manchester. The organizers took a slight gamble with both the venue and location for this year’s event.


On both counts their gamble paid off, heading to the North of England for the first time ever encouraged many LSPs ( language service providers) from that part of the world to participate and the setting of Old Trafford could not be faulted, first class facilities and highly professional staff.

From my point of view as Skrivanek’s UK Account Manager it was a great opportunity to meet some of our UK based clients ”in the flesh”, thank them for their loyalty and gather very useful feedback for our production team.

Delegates came from a wide variety of backgrounds within the industry from representatives of the largest MLVs (multi language vendors) globally, through medium sized and smaller LSPs to self employed translators and those from an academic background. As always the presentations were relevant, based on industry experience and most importantly made sense to an audience which could easily identify with much of the content.

Innovations for this year were the ATC Language Industry Summit Awards which were the highlight of the Gala Dinner. The awards complete with nominations, presentations and trophies were announced in I would say a spirit of friendly rivalry. I’m sure they will become an annual institution.

So, the two days flew by all too quickly and it was soon time to pack up and head home. I called this piece “Translators (Manchester) United” as the atmosphere always seems to be so relaxed and supportive, participants were genuinely willing to share their views and experience whatever their background. If they happened to make a useful new contact or even a sale then that was a bonus. Given this year’s venue I think we can say that for two sunny days at the end of September at least translators really were united!

Joe Atkinson

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Visiting the Client

7 10 2015

I don’t know whether you would agree that in these days of Skype calls, WebEx etc. personal visits to clients in most businesses have become less frequent. People tend to meet up at trade events during the year and the rest is taken care of electronically.

However, I was recently invited to visit a client in the UK for a face to face meeting and I found it a very good opportunity to fresh my memory on the dos and don’ts of such occasions. So here they are my Top Ten Tips for visiting the client.

Business Meeting

  1. If it has been a long running negotiation (in my case nearly a year) check back in your CRM system, mail folders etc. to refresh your memory on “how we got to here”, what has been sent to the client, their feedback etc. If you have a busy client portfolio the memory can play tricks!
  2. Do some research on the potential client, in most cases you don’t have to understand the science of their processes ( in this case biotech) but a basic knowledge of their products, history, location and other companies in the same group is a big advantage and may lead to further opportunities.
  3. In terms of presentations it goes without saying that they should be attractive and work well from a technical point of view. However, they should be tailored to your audience in terms of their level of knowledge. Try to anticipate their questions, it’s very impressive when you get it right almost like a mind reading trick!
  4. Leave yourself plenty of time for the meeting in terms of travel plans. A lot of time and possibly money has been invested up to this point and the last thing you want is to be looking at your watch 30mins into the meeting wondering if you will make it back to the airport in time.
  5. Book yourself somewhere comfortable if staying overnight. It doesn’t have to be the Ritz but a sleepless night, lack of hygiene or hunger should not get in the way of a successful meeting. Oh and don’t use being away from home as an excuse to over indulge in the local specialities, it’s a business trip!
  6. Make sure you have suitable takeaways to reinforce your presentations, company profiles, business cards (don’t forget to pack them!). Remember though it’s a fine line between getting your message across and loading your client down with bumf!
  7. An agenda is essential even it’s only in your head, of course ask your host in advance for input, check that you understand their requirements and present your preferred solution.
  8. Leave plenty of time for questions. This type of meeting is often as much an exchange of information as anything else. Try to see the client’s requirements through their eyes, on the other hand even at this stage it is a good idea to think about what the solution you are proposing would mean for you and your colleagues in practical terms.
  9. A small gift can be a nice gesture especially on international trips especially if it is edible and can be shared! Of course it should be clear that the gift is a token of goodwill and not an attempt at bribery!
  10. On your return to the office don’t forget to send a follow up thank you mail including all presentations and any other materials requested.

Joe Atkinson

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Bookmarked for Life?

21 07 2015

blog pictureDuring last month’s LocWorld event in Berlin my company Skrivanek, in common with the other exhibitors, offered visitors to our stand a variety of freebies, giveaways call them what you will. As well as the standard pens, notepads, mints etc. we had a couple of new additions. The popularity of one of these newcomers got me thinking.

For those of you who don’t know LocWorld (formerly Localization World) is the industry event for all that is new in the translation and software localization world. It takes place three times a year across three continents. By its very nature the participants tend to be at the cutting edge of technology and anybody with a mobile device more than a year old had better keep it in their pocket ( no names being mentioned here 🙂 ).

So, what was this free gift that so attracted the interest of these state of the art delegates? The answer, a good old fashioned bookmark (a device for not losing your page in a book). Perhaps I should explain for younger readers that a “book” is a data storage device which consists of two thicker pieces of paper (“covers”) containing thinner pieces of paper on which text is printed (“pages”). The usual size of such a device is a few hundred pages, it is portable and does not require a signal or power source.

Admittedly the Skrivanek bookmarks were particularly attractive, with a magnet to hold the device in place and colorful artwork reminiscent of the Dutch artist Mondrian (or so I’m told 🙂 ). They moved like the proverbial hot cakes off our stand during the two days in Berlin and now presumably are to be found in the homes and offices of translators and localizers across the globe.

What could explain this unusual phenomenon?  I have a few theories; the bookmark is an attractive keepsake and could make an interesting talking point on social occasions or perhaps people will keep them to show their mystified grandchildren in years to come. However, the theory which personally gives me most comfort is as follows: after a hard day in the virtual, digital on line world and being loaded down with Kindles and tablets etc. the movers and shakers of the industry retire to the privacy of their own homes for a good read with a real live book and their Skrivanek bookmark of course!

Joe Atkinson

LocWorld 2015 Berlin- Train of Thought!

24 06 2015

To be honest, as earlier this month my train to Berlin made its way across the Czech –German border and I gazed out at the beautiful countryside either side of the river Labe/Elbe my expectations for the upcoming LocWorld were not high. I had attended LocWorld on a couple of previous occasions and found them let’s say “not really my cup of tea”.

Berlin_LocWorldThe train I was travelling on had set out from Budapest early that morning and after dropping me in Berlin would end its journey in Hamburg in the evening. Although early in the tourist season the passengers evidently came from many different countries and overland travel in this part of Central Europe is certainly a good reminder if one is needed of the rich linguistic and cultural mix in this relatively small part of the world.

So, onto Berlin and LocWorld, Skrivanek had a strategically located booth this year and I must say from my arrival on the Wednesday evening to departure on Friday lunchtime the event was a pleasure to be part of and my misgivings on the journey up were quickly dispelled.

The event was extremely well attended with a healthy mix of old faces and newbies, the exhibition area was not dominated by any particular participant so there was a constant ebb and flow of attendees from a wide range of LSPs, technology providers, freelance translators, members of professional bodies, academics and many others.

I said earlier that the Skrivanek booth was strategically located, to be more exact it was on the main route to the supplies of coffee and cake and this ensured a steady stream of visitors and just a few of the conversations I remember having were with colleagues from Egypt, Sweden, China and France. We also had the chance to greet many of our business partners in person. Thank you to everyone who called by to say hello.

There seemed a real eagerness among everyone I met to swap experiences, learn new things, make new contacts and generally make good use of every opportunity, both professional and social that LocWorld offered.

I’m sure many participants social highlight would be the Thursday evening grill party which took place on a perfect early summer’s evening by the shores of the Neuen Zee in Berlin’s famous Tiergarten.

All too quickly as it turned out, it was Friday lunchtime and time for me to make my way back , through the gathering crowds of Juventus and Barcelona fans ( in Berlin for the Champions’ League Final) to the railway station.

I believe it is customary at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games for some VIP to say “these were the best games ever” well I’m not a VIP but I can honestly say that this was easily the best LocWorld I have attended. Why? Several factors I guess; Berlin is a great location – a truly laid back big city, Skrivanek exhibiting this year certainly made a difference, also a great mix of participants and speakers but I am convinced travelling by train rather than by air put me in a more “linguistically receptive” mood. I hope LocWorld is in Istanbul sometime soon, a trip on the Orient Express or its modern counterpart might be interesting!

Joe Atkinson

Busting “Ghost” Translators

19 06 2015

Imagine that you need money, don’t care how you get it, and you conceive of a crime that you can execute without being seen or shot at. Not only that, the victim might possibly never realize they have been robbed, and even if they do, you will face no negative consequences.

This is the dirty dream job of CV scammers.

Ghost_TranslatorsIn the translation industry, Curricula Vitae (CVs) of legitimate freelance translators are lifted from translation industry websites and attached to made-up names and contact information with astonishing frequency these days. Global Language Service Providers (LSPs) like Prague-based Skrivanek Translation Services receive dozens of fake CVs daily, forcing them to spend a considerable amount of time sorting the good from the bad.

“Not all translation agencies dedicate the resources that we do to directly testing all of our translators before assigning them jobs,” says Michal Kufhaber, Skrivanek’s Global Production Manager. “Unfortunately, many choose translators based only on good CVs.”

The rock-bottom low rates that scammers frequently offer can be persuasive, especially when they’re accompanied by CVs testifying to valuable (sometimes incredible) experience. When one of the fakes slips past the filters and is hired, delivering an unusable translation doesn’t stop the scammer from demanding pay through a chain of connections that makes them hard to track down. And when the thief gets really lucky, payment is issued before the shoddy translation is seen for what it is.

There are some consistent clues that tip off the wary LSP. Illegitimate CVs often contain physical addresses that don’t exist. They always use email addresses with free servers like Gmail and Hotmail, and they don’t provide working phone numbers. The CV will often look cut and pasted, containing a variety of fonts, for instance. The recipient shows up as “undisclosed recipients,” meaning that the scammer is flooding the market in search of a nibble.

While scammers are still working the field, they have seriously riled their victim-base. Translators are an intelligent group who rely on their reputations and on long-distance connections to clients and work – they aren’t taking this crooked trend lightly. Individuals, forums and websites have dedicated themselves to the detection and public unveiling of the CV thieves. One example is the Translator Scammers Directory, which offers shared information from a collective of scam victims. Their slogan is, “They steal your CV, your Work and your Money … We make their lives a living hell.”

Their advice? Their website suggests publicly exposing the ghost translators in every way you can think of and creating filtering systems for your hiring procedures.* Experienced global LSPs often have well-established routines of doing these very things, as you can see for instance in Skrivanek’s thorough Recruitment Process for new translators.

So who are these CV thieves? Interestingly, according to Translator Scammers Directory, nearly all can be traced to Palestine, where one in six people in the West Bank and 1 in 2 of those in Gaza were unemployed at the end of 2014.** Small percentages of them are from Asian and Eastern European countries.

All of the victims are people with years of study and experience that these syndicates of desperate “ghosts” electronically snatch to generate income for themselves. In our global online village, where troubled neighborhoods share a border in cyberspace with your desktop, diligence and creative solutions are required to protect your assets.

J. McShulskis

*Check for useful tips, scammer lists, and extensive other information.

Beside The Seaside – Skrivanek at the 2014 ATC Conference

3 10 2014

This was the first time the Association of Translation Companies had held its annual conference outside London and if it was a gamble then it certainly paid off! In late September Brighton offers conference goers a combination of the traditional tranquil end of season at the British seaside and the vibrant multicultural atmosphere which is the trademark of the town today. Delegates could not fail to be energized!

The event took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel 25th and 26th September and around 150 delegates from 30 countries participated. Many of the UK’s leading LSPs were in attendance as well as vendors, technology suppliers and linguists. Skrivanek was represented by UK Key Account Manager Joe Atkinson and Michal Rossa of Skrivanek Germany.
The day and a half flew by in a whirl of keynote speeches, workshops, the conference dinner and of course plenty of networking! This took place in a friendly and professional atmosphere, which I understand is a trademark of ATC events, all superbly organized by Geoffrey Bowden and his hard working team.


Joe Atikinson with Key Note Speaker Jack Welde of Smartling

The Keynote speeches, workshops, presentations and mini master classes offered something for everyone whether working in production, sales or both. A couple of standouts for me were Jack Welde CEO of Smartling and his “What the US Air Force taught me about being an entrepreneur” and “Sales-it’s a team effort” given by Anne- Marie Colliander, Consulting AB.
A major attraction of the ATC conference for Skrivanek is the opportunity to meet up with several of our long standing UK based clients not only of course to thank them for their continued trust in us as a vendor but also to get valuable feedback regarding our services. Even in this age of technology there is a lot to be said for a chat over a cup of tea and a slice of delicious almond cake!

Likewise it was an excellent opportunity to meet LSPs both from the UK and other countries, with whom we don’t work as yet, not only to offer our services but perhaps just as importantly to share experiences. Over the two days I gained valuable insight from colleagues from for example Malta, Spain and France as well as getting first hand views on how the translation business works in the UK.
To sum up then, two days well spent. Although this was my first ATC conference I hope it will not be my last.

Joe Atkinson
UK Key Account Manager
Tel UK: 020 3239 3256


Skrivanek Opens New Branch in Austria

22 09 2014

Skrivanek Group opens its 17th branch abroad, in Vienna, Austria.

“The Austrian business market is sophisticated,” said the company’s founder, Pavel Skrivanek. “We believe that our customized, high quality language services are needed and will be valued, at both the corporate and the consumer levels.” Skrivanek’s experience opening new offices abroad since its inception in 1994 is extensive, but in every country there are unique challenges.

Skrivanek_Austria“While German is the official language in both countries, Austria is quite different from Germany,” Pavel Skrivanek said. “The Austrian people have a different mentality, and their culture is unique. Therefore, business in Austria requires an individualized approach. Our new branch in Austria is essential for optimizing the services we offer our Austrian clients.”

Skrivanek Group’s twenty years of experience integrating new offices into foreign business cultures has prepared it well for expansion into Austria. A presence in this country with a steadily growing population of almost 8.5 million people will allow Skrivanek to establish its expertise in a location that will facilitate excellent regional networking.