Meet the speaker: Irene Koukia, proposing a business plan 2

Irene Koukia is a former International Travel Consultant and current full-time freelance English-Greek-German translator. Irene is also a trainer and mentor, and she is getting certified as a Business Coach and studying Business Administration. She has been invited to present at the upcoming 2014 international conference in Pisa, Italy, that will take place on June 28th and 29th.


The interview

How did you get started in translation?

Actually, I always wanted to become a translator, but I was afraid that I would not be able to make a living translating. After some health issues during my former occupation as a Travel Agent, I decided to continue translation studies I had left unfinished a few months before resigning and take it from there. I started to learn actively, attend webinars, perform pro-bono work in order to gain experience. At the same time, I created a web-site, filled out on-line profiles, sent resumes, etc. It took me about six months to get established, but I haven’t stopped working as a translator ever since.

What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

Actually, obstacles were more than one, but in a few words, mainly the following:

  • extremely low rates and way too long payment terms by translation agencies,
  • direct clients that turn out to be fraudulent,
  • extremely high taxation and social security expenses,
  • insecurity in terms of cash-flow and/or work coming in,
  • long hours working,
  • and gaining experience in order to become competent.

What is the greatest issue facing translators working in your country or with the languages in which you offer services?

I mainly translate into Greek and German, and I recently moved to Belgium from Greece. The greatest issues I had are mainly:

  1. Extremely low competition rates into Greek: Greek translators are marketing their rates way too low compared to other countries. In addition, translation agencies offer them even lower rates, thus resulting in problems getting an assignment at a fair price.
  2. Extremely high taxation and social security expenses: Greek government treats self-employed as ‘thieves’ in general, thus it is very hard to survive as a freelance translator. In addition, if you do work with Greek clients (agencies or direct), you will need to take into account long payment terms and delays due to lack of cash-flow, something that has its roots in Greek taxation policy.

What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

I believe that human translation is something that will always be required. No matter how good automated translation becomes, it can’t replace the human in any case. Automation may help translators work faster, but it will never ever replace them.

You will be presenting in the upcoming international conference in Pisa on the topic of “Thinking of Becoming an Outsourcer? Draft Your Business Plan”. What can conference attendees expect to learn or know from your presentation?

My presentation is about outsourcing. I will highlight all work involved into becoming an outsourcer and provide attendees with useful tips in order to get organized with the minimum possible risk. You already know I am a huge fan of free and/or low-cost software, so you will definitely get some useful tips on that! Of course, I will be very happy to answer on any question. Looking forward to seeing you in Pisa! international conference in Pisa, Italy

Join Irene and other language professionals on June 28-29 in Pisa, Italy, for the annual 2014 international conference.

Visit event page »            View event program »            View related social events »

Have you ever considered expanding your business by outsourcing work?

Post below or discuss in forums

Meet the speaker: Dominique Defert, right out of the underground bunker Reply

Dominique Defert -a literary translator with twenty-five years of experience, translator of best-seller authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham and Dan Brown, screenwriter, film director, Calibre Prize winner, you name it!

Dominique was one of the translators who was selected to spend nearly two months in an underground bunker in Italy, translating Dan Brown’s latest novel for simultaneous release in different languages (learn more »). He will be presenting on the topic of “Inferno: Translating in the Bunker” at the upcoming international conference in Pisa, Italy, on June 28-29.

The interview

How did you get started in translation?

I came to translation through writing. I was a writer of science fiction short stories. One of my short stories had been published by Denoël in the “Présence du futur” collection.

Gérard Klein, a well-known French science fiction writer I greatly admired, read my stories. At that time he was the literary editor for the “Ailleurs et Demain” collection at Robert Laffont. He offered me to translate for this renowned collection.

The first translation he entrusted to me with was a new edition of Pavane by Keith Roberts, an English science fiction author. Pavane had been my favorite book during adolescence and I had been searching in vain for a copy for a long time. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect gift. I was twenty-five years old and that’s how it all began.

What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

Ironically, the greatest challenge early in my career was to detach myself from the author’s words to find the real meaning within the text. Prioritizing fidelity and accepting that the only fidelity that really mattered was to be as close as possible to the author’s intentions: that was the most significant challenge. Together with the need to always love one’s translation. To claim each word, each sentence.

What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

In France, literary translators are the authors of their translations. This means that they are “writers” of their texts. The editor wants to read a novel in French, not a translation.

I see three basic principles, three simple, obvious and sometimes strangely neglected cardinal rules:

1. Understanding. Understand the text: meaning, context, situation of the character. Know what you are telling.
2. Writing. Write in French. Erase English. Completely. Phrases, syntax, rhythm. Everything must disappear!
3. Giving. Give the gift of wonder. Give something special to read. Write literature. This is what I call the quest for Intrigue, Surprise and Enchantment.

What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

I must admit that I don’t really understand the debate on the future of human translation (related to literature, of course).

A translator tells a story. Actually, he re-tells the story. He tells the story as he has experienced it. And this is the story he’ll write. In literature you must be biased, subjective, radical and monomaniac: this is the way to tell a story.

Choosing a word represents one’s vision of the world. Machine translation software can give the general gist but it will never give the text a soul. Especially since machines will never be human, and vice versa.

As one of the translators who spent nearly two months in an underground bunker in Italy, translating Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno*, you will be presenting in the upcoming international conference in Pisa, sharing your experience with attendees. What can they expect to learn or know from your presentation?

Work in the bunker compressed the average everyday working conditions a translator experiences. Drastic conditions, intense work and lack of comfort simply highlighted the issues all translators face. When you are a professional translator, when translation is your only source of income and when you translate every day -as I do- there is one precious magic concept which must never be lost along the way: ENJOYMENT.

Enjoyment for the body, enjoyment for the soul.

As for the body, when I was in the bunker, I resorted to certain tips and tricks.

For my soul, this meant finding enjoyment in writing and in telling a story. So I strove to love what I was writing, despite the stress, the looming deadline and the terrible hours. My simple threefold mantra “Intrigue, Surprise, Enchantment” guided me during this adventure.

The importance of really enjoying the translation process is what I would like to illustrate during my presentation. international conference in Pisa, Italy

Join Dominique and other language professionals on June 28-29 in Pisa, Italy, for the 2014 international conference.

Visit event page »            View event program »            View related social events »


See “Translator, kindly step into my dungeon, I have a project for you…” T.O. blog post (May 9, 2013) »

Thanks Daniela Zambrini, 2014 international conference organizer, for the translation of Dominique Defert’s interview answers from French into English! 2014 regional event in Porto, Portugal: tools and strategies Reply

After the great success of the 2013 international conference in Porto, Portugal, and event organizers Paula Ribeiro and Maria Pereira are organizing a regional event again in the city of Porto for language professionals with years of experience as well as for those who are just starting out in the translation business.

This regional event, scheduled for May 24th, 2014, will offer attendees an entire day of presentations, a pre-event powwow on Friday night and the possibility to learn, network and have fun with colleagues.

The program

The event program includes four sessions, two coffee breaks and one lunch. With the purpose of discussing and learning more about tools and strategies freelancers can use to cope with industry challenges, presentations will cover topics such as project management, personal branding and business issues. To see a full version of the event program, click here.

The speakers

This regional event will have the presence of five well-known speakers of the translation community:

125715_r52cf3322971eeRui Sousa

Holding a Degree in Translation Studies (English/French branch) at the Instituto Superior de Línguas e Administração (ISLA-Gaia), Rui Sousa collaborated with several Portuguese and international companies as an in-house and freelance translator. Between 2010 and 2012, he worked as a project manager at a translation agency in Porto, being directly involved in the agency’s day-to-day business. In October 2013, he created Mind Words® venture in partnership with her colleague Luísa Matos, offering services in translation, specialized training and linguistic consultancy. He is a certified trainer and a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL), reputed translators association based in London. In his free time, he loves travelling and hanging out with friends. He enjoys cinema, sushi and bossa nova.

23970_r511fdbdd6a8bcLuisa Matos

Luisa holds a Degree in Specialized Translation (English/German branch) at the Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto (ISCAP). She is a freelance translator and a certified trainer since 2001, and worked as a translation project manager for twelve years. In October 2013, she created Mind Words® venture in partnership with his colleague Rui Sousa. In her free time, she practices Tai Chi, Lu Jong and plays the violin. Also loves reading and music.

1302197_r5106369d6ee1aMarta Stelmaszak

Marta is a Polish-English translator and interpreter specializing in law, IT, marketing, and business. She is a member of the Management Committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists and a Co-head of the UK Chapter of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters. She is also an Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, a qualified business mentor, a member of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is currently studying for master’s degree in Management, Information Systems and Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Recently, she’s been awarded with the Higher Education Social Entrepreneurship Award. Marta runs the Business School for Translator, a blog for translators and interpreters with an entrepreneurial angle recently turned into an online course. Marta is active on Twitter and Facebook where she’s sharing information related to the business side of being a translator or interpreter.

783740_r478376bd9b1fbValeria Aliperta

Valeria, member of IAPTI and Head of External Relations, Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, member of ASETRAD, is a conference interpreter and translator working from English, Spanish and French into her native Italian. Her fields of expertise are IT, fashion, design, marketing, legal and advertising. With a soft spot for blogging and social media (she organised the Tweet‐Up at the 2010 ITI Conference), she was listed as 15th Top Twitterer and 21st Top Facebook Page in the Language Lovers 2012 contest. She runs monthly gatherings of colleagues, the London TweetUps, in London. Along with talks and webinars, she writes articles and guest posts on branding / corporate identity and regularly contributes to the ITI Bulletin. In 2013 she has launched Rainy London Branding, an all‐new sister site to Rainy London Translations, entirely dedicated to branding and identity consultancy. Along with Marta Stelmaszak, she runs The Freelance Box, a series of hands‐on, no-nonsense, in‐person courses on the practical side of the freelance translation business.

12742_r4fb7bb01c2c39João Roque Dias

João is a mechanical engineer and technical translator. He discharged several duties in engineering, consulting and construction companies in Portugal, Israel, Denmark, United States, Bermuda and Mozambique. He is a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International), an independent translator since 1989 and a corresponding member of the American Translators Association (ATA) since 1993, also certified by them in English-Portuguese. João was also an ATA Accreditation Exams Grader from 1994 until 2001 and Vice-chair of the Organizing Committee of contrapor2006 – 1st Portuguese Translation Conference. He also acted as a scientific advisor and speaker at the 2007, 2009 and 2010 TRADULÍNGUAS Translation Conferences (Lisbon, Portugal). A well-known speaker in translation related events around the world, João is also a trainer of mechanical engineering translation and professional development for translators, and author of several articles and glossaries related to technical translation and mechanical engineering. More about Joao can be found on his website or via Facebook.

The event

The event will take place on May 24th at the HF Ipanema Porto Hotel from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM CET. To register for this event, visit the event page and click on “Sign up now”. To save your seat, just click on “Buy now to register” in the pricing box.

What tools do you use to cope with industry challenges? What strategies have you applied (or are you planning to apply) to improve the way you manage your translation business? Share below!

The unique experience of organizing a event 1 events are virtual or in-person gatherings that represent the most powerful concentration of the mission statement by providing opportunities for translators to network, learn, expand their businesses and have fun.

To date, there has been thousands of events, virtually and in different cities around the globe. These events include powwows, conferences, workshops, you name it!

But what makes events different is not just the many event options available, but the fact that they are are organized by and for language professionals. Plus, they are less formal and more intimate than events in other industries, and planned in such a way as to be affordable and easily accessible.

Why organize a event?

Most event organizers agree in that organizing a event is a truly unique and rewarding experience. For them, events represent a fantastic opportunity to be challenged to do something different, learn new skills, make contacts with companies, associations and other major players in the industry. Furthermore, event organizers may find that the exposure gained by organizing an event enhances their translation business and professional profile.


“Organizing the 2013 international conference made me develop skills I never knew I had in me, gave me the opportunity to know some great professionals from other companies and areas of interest and to make some new friends, apart from the fact that having mentioned this organization on my CV and profiles all over the net, has helped my clients realize that they can rely on me as far as organization and responsibility goes!”

Paula Ribeiro, organizer of the 2013 international conference in Porto, Portugal.

Whether it is a powwow, a conference, or a workshop, if there are language professionals living in close proximity who are interested in learning, networking, expanding their business and having fun, there is the opportunity for a event!

Can I propose a event?

Sure you can! If you would like to organize a gathering of professionals for 2014, just complete the event proposal form. staff will review your poposal and contact you to discuss different possibilities available.

Fore more information on events, click here.

Summary of the V Conferência Brasileira de Tradutores do in Recife 3

Almost one week after the V Conferência Brasileira de Tradutores do, phrases such “Disrupt yourself now!” and “Translators of the world, unite! We are stronger together.” seem to keep echoing in participants’ minds. Nineteen speakers, twenty different sessions, two powwows, Tweets, Facebook posts, feedback comments, pictures and videos made of this conference a great success, reminding translation professionals of the importance of constant networking and professional development.

What did this event offer to members?

  • Twenty sessions divided in two tracks.
  • Two powwows, one at Restaurante Parraxaxá, specialized in Northeastern plates, and a second one at Entre Amigos Praia, a restaurant with the prefect atmosphere to be with fiends!
  • Sightseeing around Recife, the Brazilian Venice.
  • The chance to meet fellow translators, promote themselves among peers and learn how to get the most out of the translation profession.

As a staff member, I enjoyed my visit to Recife and meeting some Brazilian members for the first time and seeing others again. It was a great experience! Thanks Ju Chaad and Nina Cavalcanti for working tirelessly over the past year to bring this great conference to life. Also, thanks speakers for sharing your time, energy and expertise. And, above all, thank you attendees for making this event possible!

What now?

Hope to see you all soon at the next event!


Translation events 101: Virtual events 2

virtual_eventsThe virtual event starts in five minutes and you’ve just sat down to your desk, coffee in hand, ready to listen to sessions, view panel discussions, and chat with colleagues via a virtual powwow. Suddenly, as you go to enter the event, an error message pops up on your screen, or you realize that your headphones only work in one ear, or you find out that your version of Flash Plug-In is not supported
by the event platform (whatever that means).

Some pre-event planning

Don’t let this happen to you! Here are some quick and easy things you can do prior to the event to not only ensure that everything runs smoothly from a technical standpoint, but also to make certain that you are getting the most out of your virtual event experience:

  • Complete your bio. First and foremost, introduce yourself to other attendees by completing your event registration form and biography. Just visit the “My data” tab to see the information that will be visible to other attendees.
  • Check your hardware. Make sure you have a working set of headphones or speakers so you can listen in on presentations and group discussions. You also have the option of using a webcam and microphone for voice and video chat during the virtual powwows, so make sure you have those set up beforehand if you plan on using them during the event.
  • Know the program. Take a look at the “Sessions” tab to review the different sessions that will take place during the event. You can even submit any questions you may have for speakers prior to the event taking place directly on the individual sessions pages.
  • Check your software. Make sure some basic software is installed and up-to-date on your computer to ensure that everything runs smoothly when you try to access the event. See the technical requirements to enter a virtual event here: You can also run a systems check to see if your computer meets the minimum requirements necessary to enter the virtual environment by running the test available here: You’ll also need to have Adobe Flash Player Version 10.1.82 or higher installed on your computer to attend the virtual powwows and group discussions. To download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player, visit:
  • Find out who’s going. Browse the list of attendees to see who else will be attending the event. Take a look at the biographies they’ve entered and any interests they’ve expressed to get a feel for the type of people you can meet and interact with on the day of the event. You can even search through the list of registrants by name, country and company fields.
  • Tell a friend. Spread the word about the virtual event by posting to your blog, liking the event on Facebook, or tweeting the event URL and hashtag to your followers.

What to expect at the event

Once you’ve made it to the virtual conference, you can enter the session that is currently underway from the event’s program page (under the “Sessions” tab). Once that session ends, a prompt will appear on your screen indicating what the next session is, and where you can enter it. Here are the types of sessions that usually take place at a virtual event at

panel_discussionPanel discussion: Watch a panel of speakers discuss a particular topic live and via webcam. You can pose questions to speakers via a chat box at the bottom of the page.

  On-demand: Watch pre-recorded videos that are made available on-demand throughout    the entire event, and after.

group_discussionVirtual powwow: Participate in a group chat with colleagues. These sessions are typically fairly informal in that there is no set topic to discuss, and are mainly used as a “meet and greet” or icebreaker activity.

  Group discussion: These sessions take place in the virtual powwow environment, but with    a set topic to discuss.

presentationPresentation: Listen to a speaker discuss a certain theme, trend in the industry, or other point of interest via a pre-recorded or live session. A live Q&A with the presenter takes place after the session ends.

Upcoming virtual events at

Now that you know what to do to prepare for a virtual event, and you’re familiar with the types of sessions that take place during a virtual conference, let’s take a look at some upcoming virtual events at

Online Networking Event
The new Online Networking Event series seeks to connect language professionals across the globe who work in the same areas of expertise. Some upcoming events in this series are the following:


MT Is Useless and The Cloud is Slow – a discussion event
This event will take place on August 22nd and includes a panel discussion and group chat touching on the advancement of translation-related technology over the years.

2013 virtual event series
Don’t miss the 5th annual virtual events series in celebration of International Translation Day. This week-long event will kick off on Monday, September 30.

Post-event checklist

Now that you have an idea of some upcoming virtual events, let’s go over some things to keep in mind after the event has ended:

  • Follow up. Know who you spoke to and connected with during the event, and consider touching base with these individuals after the event has ended.
  • Continue the collaboration. Form a team or start a private forum to include the colleagues that you spoke with at the event.
  • Stay informed. Know that much of the content for these events is made available after they’ve ended. Sessions for virtual events are generally always recorded, and these videos can be accessed post-event by visiting the page for the specific session.
  • Stay tuned for upcoming events. Check in on the virtual conferences page to find out about new virtual events taking place on New events are announced regularly.

Next post…

This is part one of a two-part article on events at Stay tuned for the second half of this article which will focus on in-person events.

Summary of the 2013 international conference in Porto Reply

The 2013 international conference in Porto in over, but its spirit still seems to be in all and each of the attendees to this event. With hundreds of Tweets, Facebook posts, feedback comments, pictures, videos, reports and whatnot, this conference seems to have reminded professionals of the importance of networking and learning in professional development.

Careful planning and detailed organization were evidently the secret ingredients for the success of this event. The three session tracks offered led to a good variety of presentations to choose from and the different social options available –sightseeing tour, wine taste, powwows– helped attendees to make connections more quickly and easily.

In sum, this is what this event offered to attendees:

  • Thirty different sessions, divided in three tracks.
  • Two  powwows, one at Restaurante Commercial, one of the most iconic restaurants in Porto, and a second one at Restaurante BibóPorto, a restaurant that offers exquisite traditional Portuguese dishes.
  • A sight-seeing tour around the city.
  • A wine taste at Burmester Cellars, where we had the chance to taste the most famous port wine.
  • A gala dinner also with great food and wine.
  • A one-day workshop on “Negotiation”.
  • The chance to meet fellow translators and promote themselves among peers.

As a staff member, I must say that I’m not only proud of being part of this amazing community, but also honored to have had the chance of spending these amazing days with new friends. Thanks Paula Ribeiro, Maria Pereira and Rafaela Lemos for working tirelessly over the past year to bring this wonderful event to life. Also, thanks speakers for sharing your time, energy and expertise. And, above all, thank you attendees for making this event possible!

Here is a video summary of the event for you to watch and share:

Hope to see you all soon at the next event!



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