Event Recap: Chronicle of the fourth ANETI Congress for translation companies and professionals

The fourth ANETI Congress for translation and interpreting companies and professionals was held on 17 and 18 May at the Casa Árabe in Madrid. The congress was attended by more than one hundred professionals from ANETI member and non-member companies, including those from the USA and Argentina, as well as freelance translators/interpreters, representatives of other associations, industry suppliers.

Wednesday 17th: Future and strategy

Arancha Caballero, ANETI president, kicked off the congress with an impactful inaugural speech. The ceremonial reins were then handed over to Alicia Varela, who serves as the Director General of International Trade and Investment at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Varela’s keynote address, titled “The Internationalisation of the Spanish Economy in the Current Global Scenario,” officially set the stage for the congress proceedings.

Following this, we were privileged to have Richard Vaughan, the illustrious chairman and founder of the Vaughan Group, delivering the first talk. Under the provocative title, “How to Position Yourself in the Face of the Threat of Technological Substitution,” Vaughan, acclaimed for his effective dual role as an educator and translator, bolstered the spirits. His message was not to surrender to the negative sentiment often associated with the progression of technology within the sector. He emphasised that opportunities will always present themselves, drawing parallels between the language teaching and translation industries. He implored us to seize the initiative and adapt effectively to the forthcoming changes.

Subsequently, we were joined by Roberto Ganzerli, the dynamic managing director of LSP Growth, who offered insights on the topic “Growth Strategies for LSPs: Where to Start?” Ganzerli fervently advocated that growth is an imperative aspect, asserting that stagnation equates to regression, especially for smaller companies. He stressed the importance of having clear objectives and a well-planned strategy. With the modern era’s challenges, such as technological advancements, looming wars, economic recessions, and inflation, he suggested that consolidation via mergers might be an optimal solution for this fragmented sector.

After the coffee break, the spotlight was on Carlos La Orden, a skilled translator and trainer. His presentation “Between Manuscripts and Artificial Intelligence: Where is Our Place in the Market?” introduced the congress’s buzzword: ChatGPT. This was a term unfamiliar to many when the congress was first planned in mid-2022. As artificial intelligence evolves, even automatic translation might soon be considered antiquated. Despite this daunting prospect, La Orden inspired us with the notion that our profession and business practices will evolve and persist. He firmly La Orden in the indispensability of the human element in our industry, reassuring us that we are far from becoming obsolete.

Patricia Ramos, the resourceful CEO of Adiria, shared her unique journey of establishing her company amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic. In her enlightening presentation, titled “PR and Branding: The Perfect Allies to Boost Your Translation Company’s Sales,” she emphasized the instrumental role of public relations in promoting translation companies. She made a compelling case for increased visibility and client acquisition through various forms of public relations. Ramos underscored the point that implementing a successful branding strategy is not solely the domain of large companies, but it can be adopted by companies of all sizes and budgets.

Following Ramos, we welcomed Pilar Bringas, a highly-regarded business consultant and advisor. Bringas’ session was dedicated to the critical realm of social media. While recognizing the undisputed utility of social media as a communication and marketing tool, she reiterated the crucial importance of a well-defined strategy. Her presentation, “Effective Management of Social Media: Maximizing Opportunities without Losing Sanity,” offered a thorough overview of the current landscape of social media platforms and provided valuable insights on how to leverage each platform effectively.

To wrap up the day, Gabriel Cabrera switched gears and put on his TV presenter’s hat to host a fun, trivia-style BOOM game, featuring questions related to translation and interpreting. This entertaining session served as a warm-up to a lively networking dinner at a nearby restaurant, attended by an enthusiastic group of 70 participants.

Thursday 18: Technology and business

As dawn broke on Thursday, 18th, the spotlight was on Technology and Business. Gloria Corpas, a respected professor at the University of Málaga, took center stage with her presentation, “The Future is Already Here: The Technological Revolution in Interpreting.” She explained how advancements in technology have significantly impacted the field of interpreting. The pandemic served as the catalyst, propelling remote interpreting into reality, both with and without human intervention. Just as in translation, automation has found its place in various administrative aspects of the industry such as managing bookings, invoicing, and more.

Following the discussion on technology’s role in interpreting, María del Mar Sánchez from the University of Alcalá (UAH) presented “Translation Technologies and Their (R)evolution in the Digital Era.” She emphasized that translation and technology have been inseparable since the dawn of the discipline. The digital era has birthed an array of programs and tools that automate processes, making it crucial for us to identify those that aid our daily work without getting overwhelmed by the ongoing technological “(r)evolution.”

Antoni Oliver from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) then explored the “Integration of Artificial Intelligence Techniques in Productive Translation Environments.” Oliver discussed the application of neural machine translation, the use of automatic search for translation equivalents of words and terms in comparable corpora, and the method of obtaining parallel corpora (or translation memories) from sets of comparable texts in two languages.

Concurrently, two of the congress sponsors presented resources. Firstly, Paula Ramollino, the commercial director of Gespoint Software, introduced Gespoint Translator — a leading management system for language service providers (LSPs) and freelance translators in Spain, known for improving process automation without sacrificing quality. Her talk, titled “New Technologies as a Solution to the Sector’s Current Challenges,” reassured that neither time nor budget should pose a problem in the adoption of such technologies.

Secondly, Pablo Sampere provided an analysis of the evolution of the translation and interpreting sector, highlighting the vital role of professional training. Estudio Sampere also unveiled its upcoming, diverse portfolio of translation and interpreting courses.

Post-coffee, the conference’s attention turned to the crucial role of the project manager in the translation business. In her presentation, “The Project Manager: A Key Player in the Translation Business,” Susana Pinilla, partner and production manager at Quorum, dissected the often invisible yet integral role of project management in the translation process. She shared insights into the high-stress nature of the role and outlined a range of essential skills and functions to be an excellent project manager, rather than merely a good one.

The subsequent presentation, titled “Translation of Anonymised Texts: A New Market Triggered by the GDPR,” focused on the burgeoning importance of anonymisation in our sector, following the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation. Mª Ángeles García Escrivà from Pangeanic introduced four strategies designed to aid the translation workflow of anonymised texts, spanning both traditional translation and post-editing of machine translations.

Concurrently, two additional tools were showcased by other congress sponsors. Itziar Cortés, the coordinator of Elhuyar’s Language and Technology Unit, captivated our attention with her presentation, “Elia: The Automatic Translator of Your Everyday Life.” She acquainted us with her foundation, which, though somewhat unfamiliar outside the Basque Country, is pioneering significant work. She highlighted Elia, their proprietary multi-directional automatic translator, asserting that it could seamlessly integrate with computer-assisted translation tools, making it an ideal companion for translation projects. She underscored its quality and its data-processing reliability, distinguishing it from other translators.

María Muñoz, a sales consultant at Plunet, then broached the subject of “Opportunities and Risks of Full Automation in Project Management.” She acknowledged that automation has permeated not only translation tasks but the entire complex translation process. Although she lauded the progress as a significant advancement, offering plentiful opportunities, she also warned of associated risks. Emphasizing strategy as the key, she argued that it will ensure a seamless transition and optimum efficiency.

Post a convivial cocktail lunch, the final two conference presentations were delivered by Eva Pérez Nanclares, a lawyer and director at S&P® Legal, and Paola Manca, CEO of Ampere Translations.

Pérez Nanclares’ presentation centered on labour regulations affecting companies and translation professionals. She delved into pertinent topics for both organizations and freelancers, such as leave entitlements, part-time work provisions, work-life balance, remote working regulations, and the right to digital disconnection. She further explored the potentially “perilous” relationship between companies and freelance translators, offering practical guidelines to mitigate risks, citing a real-life case for context.

Manca, for her part, shared Ampere Translations’ innovative journey of implementing a 4-day work week within the translation industry. In an era where the global landscape is typified by mergers and acquisitions of local firms by larger international conglomerates, the 4-day work week stands as a potent tool for small and medium-sized enterprises in our sector to attract and retain talent. Judging from the insights shared by Manca and Costantino Pala, the company’s chief operating officer, the preliminary outcomes of this venture seem immensely promising.

Round table and much more

To conclude the congress, a stimulating roundtable discussion was held: “What does the future of translation and interpreting in Spain look like?”

The participants — Concha Ortiz, president of AICE; Juanjo Arevalillo, president of ASPROSET; and Itziar Cortés from Elhuyar, who stepped in for Lohitzune Txarola, the director of LANGUNE, who was unable to attend — engaged in a dynamic conversation led by the president of ANETI, Caballero. The topics explored the present and future of our industry, the challenges and opportunities we face, and whether we share more commonalities or divisions. The discussion brought forth insightful responses, ultimately leading to a clear and encouraging conclusion: we must remain resilient against doom-laden predictions. We are all navigating the same waters, and there is considerable power in unity.

Caballero offered closing remarks for the congress, extending gratitude to the speakers for their enlightening presentations, to the sponsoring companies for their support, and to the attendees for their active participation, as evident in their numerous questions. She gave special thanks to the members of the congress organising committee and the association’s coordinator for their diligent efforts.

The congress concluded — or nearly so — with a refreshing mojito on the terrace of the Casa Árabe. In keeping with the spirit of connection and ongoing conversation, several attendees took up LocLunch’s invitation to continue discussions at a nearby bar.

Based on the impressions experienced on-site, comments made in anonymous evaluations, and discussions on the Telegram channel, ANETI can only take pride in the resounding success of the congress.

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