Our founder, Dr Isabella Moore CBE, spoke movingly at the 2022 Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) conference on the theme of embracing change. This blog is adapted from Isabella’s speech and explores the joys of connecting in person, the opportunities that appear when businesses and individuals are flexible, and how decisive action helps all of us emerge stronger when faced with change.
Why togetherness matters for businesses
This year’s ITI conference was the first to be held in person since 2019. The foray back into the world of face-to-face events gave rise to an appreciation of how powerful togetherness is. Not just as social human beings, but for business. Meeting with colleagues and business partners in ‘the real world’ was a reminder that though change is inevitable, how we manage it is up to us.
Comtec’s founder, Dr Isabella Moore CBE, recalls the early days of her career in translation when she decided to attend the Translators’ Guild conference, as ITI was known then. Filled with anxiety, she was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming her colleagues were. Isabella found comfort in sharing client anecdotes, problems with emerging technology and difficulties with obtaining specialist dictionaries.
The conference showed Isabella she was not alone; it gave her a sense of community. Sharing her experiences helped Isabella see that others had similar challenges and that they could help one another.
Change is a constant, in all contexts
Embracing change, and emerging stronger, happens all the time and in many contexts.
None of us can fail to notice what is unfolding in Ukraine. The terrible events there demonstrate how sudden change impacts people, places and industry. It shows us the ripple effect of change as the impact of the events is felt far beyond the borders of Ukraine.
We, in the language community, have responded quickly with offers of help to overcome linguistic barriers. In the UK, the Ukraine Language Support Task Force has co-ordinated language support resources for refugees.
Digital transformation has paved the way for swift change
Much, however, in our industry has already changed over these last few years. As our customers and suppliers in all kinds of industries undergo digital transformation, our service supports customers with the translation of their digital content, especially in the elearning sector.
In fact, we should thank Zoom for helping us to deepen our relationships with our customers and suppliers, whom we have actually been able to see across the world! Fuelled by our linguist lunches and quizzes we were able to enjoy with you over Zoom and Teams, the feeling that ‘we are all in this together’ is much stronger now.
Digital transformation has had a notable impact on the translation industry, giving rise to greater efficiency and flexibility in managing projects. For instance, there is more automation in the voiceover process, in subtitling, transcription and content creation. Whereas several years ago it was somewhat difficult to work with translators willing to post-edit machine-translated content, this is no longer the case. As an industry, we are more willing to be flexible and embrace change.
Decisive action is key when change is needed
We can choose to be decisive when change is needed.
We know that the uptake of language learning across schools and universities has decreased. So, what must we do, as an industry? As former President of the British Chambers of Commerce and former CEO of CILT, the National Centre for Languages, Isabella took action. She championed research which made the economic case for language skills. More recently, in her role as Chair of Comtec, she was instrumental in promoting further research, which revealed that companies investing in language capability are 30% more likely to succeed as exporters. It’s clear that even in tough economic times, upskilling through language investment and seeking out new opportunities is another way to embrace change and emerge stronger.
While the findings of this research are encouraging, as an industry, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to lobby. The joint strength of the ITI, Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) will ensure we continue to raise awareness of the importance of languages to our economy and society on the whole.
To grab an opportunity is to embrace change
Another key facet of embracing change is about recognising opportunities, something that has held Isabella in good stead over the years.
Being half Polish, she was able to study for several years at Warsaw University, while honing her Polish language skills. At the time, having a British passport and being bi-lingual was a unique combination in communist Poland! Before returning to the UK, she utilised these skills by working for American and British companies.
On her return to the UK, Isabella again recognised an opportunity and set up Comtec.
Adapt, evolve and look forwards
Change is a constant and impacts all areas of life and work; to thrive, businesses must accept the adaptability required of them. Be it embracing digital technology, connecting with colleagues to find solutions together, or looking for opportunities amongst challenges.
Whether change has been forced or comes about through circumstance, your ability to emerge stronger and make the most of it is more in your hands than you might think.
Hopefully, the reflections and lessons within this post demonstrate what is possible. Because who knows? You might just surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
And if you have reached that moment in your professional life of ‘just doing it’, then good luck!
If you’re seeking a translation partner and are interested to discover the economic benefits of languages in business, book a call with our team, always here to support you.