Our Head of Translation Operations, Hannah Stacey, has just reached a fantastic milestone at Surrey Translation Bureau, having been at the company for 10 years! With August being Women in Translation month, we take this opportunity to ask her about her career growth, her thoughts on industry changes and if she had any secrets for success…
I: Thanks for your time, Hannah. Let’s start from the beginning. What prompted you to join the translation industry?
Entering into the language industry was an easy choice for me – from the word go I was fascinated by other languages and puzzle-solving: I think the geek in me always saw translation as code-cracking! Pure enjoyment of modern languages at school led to a BA in French and Italian with German on the side. My BA had some elements of translation, but I didn’t really have a clue on what the translation industry had to offer. I spent a year working in Sydney and fell into a role translating documents on Venetian Renaissance architecture for a Faculty Dean. I loved the combination of research and study, and using my language skills in that way was both motivating and challenging. That led to my signing up for more study and an MA in Translation and Linguistics at Westminster. From there I would have taken any job with languages offered to me. Lucky for me that job was here, as a Project Manager at Surrey Translation Bureau back in 2009.
I: But that’s not your role now…
No, I worked from the ground up, although when I joined the Company there were just three PMs (now 9) so the Company and I have grown and evolved together. From project management I forged the resource management role (now team), before becoming what would equate to our Head of Project Management now. Since 2013 I’ve been in my current role as Head of Translation Operations, managing day-to-day operations of the Company related to our translation output.
I: So, what has been your biggest professional challenge?
Remaining ambitious and maintaining drive – you have to be patient in a small business environment! Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say and spreading out expenditure plays a huge part in strategic decisions. Likewise, decisions carry a lot of risk; for the Company and for the team members themselves; making them isn’t always easy when you work metres from each other.
I: And your experience as a woman in the translation industry?
My experience has always been that women are in the majority in the language industry and as such I’ve never felt like my personal development, growth, position or place has been limited or threatened. That said, I haven’t ever felt that I needed to stand out to be heard, as I’ve never been afraid to say what’s on my mind or call others out if needed. What’s more, I think the industry as a whole is perfectly set up to complement the life of a working mum, what with freelancers choosing hours to suit, the ability to work around different time zones to match your working preferences, and remote work being so dominant. In returning to work from maternity leave I put together a proposal that worked for the Company and for me and my new priorities. I have heard awful stories about how women are mistreated in returning to work, but I’m pleased to say it has not been my personal experience. That said I’d advise any women to be prepared to fight for what they want from life and if they are in the right company, things will work for you.
I: What would you consider your biggest achievement professionally?
I’m not sure I could put my finger on one thing specifically, but when I attend freelancer-focussed events and our extended team tell us we’re doing something right, I’m pretty proud. There aren’t many translation agencies out there that see all translators as such a highly valued part of the production chain. Perhaps it’s because our Company make-up stems from qualified language degrees, or perhaps it’s our family-focussed management, either way, I think it makes us stand out from the crowd and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I: Sounds like you have a great system! So, what’s on the cards for you next?
Surrey Translation Bureau is going from strength to strength and I intend to help embrace and consolidate that. This year we presented at the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) Conference on post-editing, won a Corporate Member award and implemented translation management software, Plunet BusinessManager, to streamline efficiency, so we have a lot to build on. We have our first ever international presentation coming up at Meet Central Europe in Prague in October and a rebrand in the making, so we have some aces up our sleeves. You could say we’ve stacked the deck for success!
I: Thank you so much Hannah, I wish you and the team success for all your future endeavours.
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