Whether it’s music or language work, Agenor Hofmann-Delbor brings a passion to whatever he takes on. From localization engineering to conference planning, he’s accumulated a wealth of experience in several fields. Nicolás Maximiliano Martín Fontana caught up with him to discuss his career in more detail.
Why do you like reading MultiLingual magazine?
Multilingual has always been terrific in showing different perspectives. Since localization is all about understanding, we may not be aware of all crucial bits in other cultures and languages; it’s inspirational in many ways. It’s incredible how a relatively hermetic industry still finds so many ways to reinvent itself.
How did you start in the translation industry?
It seems like yesterday, but it’s been 20 years now. In the last year of my IT studies, I started my career by accidentally blocking the door to a company where I was supposed to be interviewed for a job. I asked the recruiter, “Is this part of the test?” and that’s how I became a localization engineer. Then I started taking several managerial roles and got more interested in researching and developing new things. CAT tools and software localization were my domain. After two decades, as 3di’s Head of Localization, I am looking closely at a unique world of technical communication and its natural blend with localization processes.
Tell us about the conference you created, nowadays known as KTLC.
After attending some industry conferences back in the days, it became clear that freelancers and agencies don’t have a strong representation at industry events. As much as I like working with large customers, they have their perspective, and the industry is much more than that — it’s over 500,000 professionals worldwide. My ambitious goal (which seemed obvious at that time) was to bring everyone together and offer them a communication platform, a friendly space for discussion and sharing experiences. The event snowballed with each edition, and at some point, I teamed up with the brilliant Maria Szpor from Textem to form a more international version of the event. We’ve succeeded in many ways, bringing new ideas, trying out new things, but — most importantly — creating a very down to earth and friendly environment. Each edition stated a specific vision of the theme and selected topics. Together with the team, I made sure we had the most exciting lectures and debates. It was about getting rid of the marketing babble from the program and focusing on the industry’s real challenges. In 2019, I stepped down, leaving the event in the good hands of the fearless Anna Lewoc. The event went through some revolutionary changes due to COVID times, and this year it is coming back in hybrid mode. After all those years, it will be fantastic to attend KTLC 2022 in person.
How has the market developed over the years in Poland?
It’s a different market than 20 years ago. CAT tools and modern translation technologies are a standard. Companies know very well how to handle the translation process correctly. There’s competition, and there’s some movement in terms of mergers and acquisitions. There are many active associations’ workshops all around the place. I particularly like that universities managed to catch up with the market reality, and graduates are ready to start their professional businesses.
Who was your first client?
That was a CAT tool training for someone travelling 700 km to the office. It sounds insane these days, and I guess that means we’re making progress.
Is it a good time to be a translator?
I know everyone likes patting on the shoulders, but the short answer is no. It’s not, but only if you want to do the same job as translators did 20 years ago. I strongly suggest looking around the industry — there are so many exciting jobs related to creating content, reviewing multilingual data, etc. What’s the closest option for translators? It is to be a technical writer. In 3di, we deal with many former freelance translators who reinvented themselves as authors. I think www.3di-info.com tells more than I could about the company. I was really curious about the Tech Comm industry, but I also wanted to apply my localization experiences. 3di is a quite unique mixture of two worlds; it was a no-brainer to join the team.
I heard you have a magnificent artistic side. Can you tell us more?
I always wanted to play music, but was only able to complete my dream as an adult. A very late start, but a very rewarding one. In 2013, I formed a band, the Jammos, which broke up two years later. That’s when I started playing in duet with a guitarist, Kuba Herdzik. We even gave an acoustic concert during one of TLC’s evening parties, and another one in the bus that drove attendees back to the hotel.
Being a part of the translation industry made it easier for me to write songs in English. It felt natural to do it and to share my music with more than one country.
In 2019, we managed to form a band inspired by soul, funk and r&b called Parasoul. Then it all went quickly — we wrote over 40 songs, some of which have been recorded for our debut album “Exhale” (released in 2021). It’s available on Spotify and — hopefully — could be the fitting soundtrack to reading MultiLingual.
Now, we are working on our second album. The thing I look forward the most is playing live. There’s nothing like it.