Would you introduce yourself?
Anne-Maj van der Meer, training and events director at TAUS.
Where do you live?
Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
How did you get started in this industry?
Well, 15 years ago, I was an English language and culture student at the University of Amsterdam when my father, Jaap van der Meer, started a new company — TAUS. He offered me a part-time job maintaining the website and doing some administrative work. At that time Jaap was also in charge of the program for the LocWorld conferences, and I was invited to help the staff at these events. This was when I first became aware of this amazing global language industry. As I was learning more about the business and the industry, I became more interested in it. I graduated and I was offered a full-time position at TAUS. Over the past 15 years I’ve been active in almost every aspect of TAUS: administration, website development, member services, business development, and organizing events.
I’m most “at home” in these last two, as I enjoy talking with people and I love the thrill of organizing things with tight deadlines and putting on a great show that everyone enjoys.
What are you working on now?
As you can imagine, events are not a priority for me at the moment. We organize some virtual events, and of course we hope to be back with in-person conferences soon too — our Massively Multilingual Conference & Expo is scheduled for November 2021. At the same time, TAUS has completed a transformation to a data services company, which made it only a natural step for me to join the business development team and help grow our Data Marketplace. The Data Marketplace is the latest initiative from TAUS, which we launched in November 2020. It’s part of a European Commission-funded project that we work on together with FBK and Translated. The name speaks for itself: it’s a platform for data acquisition and monetization. The Marketplace has lots of data in hundreds of language pairs from TAUS as well as many other external data sellers. My energy goes into expanding this offering and attracting new data sellers to our platform. Over the past years, in all my conversations with MT gurus from various companies, I asked them about data vs algorithms and what is more important. Consistently, I got the answer that the data is the differentiator, as most algorithms are open source and everyone is using the same ones. The data is what defines the quality of the output.
As we all are experiencing, the industry is changing at a rapid pace, only made more evident through the global COVID pandemic. We cannot deny machine learning and AI applications anymore. And if you’re adopting these applications, data is now more important than ever. Our old business models are no longer sustainable. With the Data Marketplace, we open the black box, so to speak, and put the “data keepers” in the spotlight. By data keepers, we mean translators and (small) translation agencies. They are the ones who keep the data in optima forma. The Data Marketplace offers a new way for these data keepers to not only gain recognition for their hard work, but also to earn money from their historical or stock data.
The industry started a transformation in 2020, which accelerated even more at the end of the year, and now it’s time to execute on all these changes. I think 2021 is going to be an exciting year!
What language(s) do you speak?
I speak Dutch and English. I’m also quite okay in German. One of my Corona-times goals is to learn more. I’m currently trying to master Italian and improving my German. And I love “collecting” words and phrases in many other languages. So far, I can surprise you in Turkish, Japanese, Greek, Spanish, and Chinese, among others.
Whose industry social feeds (twitter, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook) do you follow?
Many! On LinkedIn I obviously follow TAUS and the Data Marketplace pages. But also Women in Localization, Nimdzi, LocWorld, GALA, ProZ, RWS Moravia, Lilt, Lionbridge, and many more. On Twitter I follow 157 people, so you can check out my profile to find interesting new people and companies to follow there. Furthermore, I subscribe to a number of industry newsletters like Slator, MultiLingual and Jost Zetzsche’s Toolbox.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Well, I used to love all the traveling I was able to do for TAUS and LocWorld. Since last year I’ve had to find new things to love and rediscover old hobbies. Currently, I’m doing a lot of reading, workouts (walks and weight lifting), photography, cooking, watching series, and movies, and I’m really enjoying exploring my own country a bit more. I’ve discovered that the Netherlands has many beautiful places to admire too!
What industry organizations and activities do you participate in?
I obviously participate in all TAUS events and webinars. From 2005 – 2019 I also attended almost all LocWorld conferences as speaker, exhibitor, staff, or all three. Next to that I also have a good connection with the Women in Localization leaders, both globally and in the Netherlands. At TAUS we collaborate with many translation associations around the world, like ATC, VViN, JTF, GALA, AILIA, ProZ and Silicon Slopes, among others. With events going virtual (and the team not having to travel to attend), we’re also planning to be more active in other virtual events like SmartCat’s LocFromHome, with more to follow.
Do you have any social feeds of your own? Twitter handle, blog?
Yes, I’m not super active, but I do have a Twitter and Linked- In account you’re more than welcome to connect with me on. I’m quite active on Instagram, but those posts are rarely work related. I recently got onto Clubhouse, as well.
Why do you read MultiLingual?
It’s a good source of information: you can read more about the latest research, innovations, and releases. If you’re new to this industry, MultiLingual magazine is a great start to catch up on who’s who, what everyone is working on and where you need to go to find what you’re looking for, whether that’s events, consulting, translation projects or anything else. I was quite fortunate to visit the team and their headquarters in Sandpoint, Idaho a few times, and they are the loveliest people you’ll ever meet.