Monday, April 22nd, 2013

CSOFT Stories: Chiara Conte on Professional Translating, Successful Management, and Keeping a Smile On Your Face

With the sun shining out here as Beijing springs into warmer weather, we thought it appropriate to feature our lovely Chiara for this week’s CSOFT Story. With her ebullient personality and beaming smile brightening up the CSOFT office, Italian native Chiara Conte has much to say regarding the future of translation, personal growth, and keeping a sunny disposition as the pressure begins to mount. Read on for more!

Image of book, titled "CSOFT Stories" sitting on a table

How is CSOFT unique or special to you?

The trust and responsibility I’ve gained these past few years makes me feel part of every single change, whether it’s a new client, a new project, or a new office. The fact is that once you’ve joined the CSOFT family, you feel part of something bigger. I think this is almost like a rite of passage for CSOFTers: once you recognize and identify with this feeling of being part of a shared goal, you really feel it and it pushes you. It’s really an extraordinary moment.

What are your thoughts about translating as a profession? What are the challenges unique to translating?

Translators who work without a vocabulary list or dictionary to verify word usage simply because they think their language skills are enough – they have the potential to add hundreds of man-hours to the review process. This is completely opposite to the attitude here at CSOFT: we take pride in our work, and therefore, implement the processes necessary to ensure quality translation.

What is just as, or even more, important than the original translation is the QA (quality assurance) process. Of course, you need the translation first, but the QA process is really the icing on the cake, and who would want to eat a cake with no icing? Laughs. In all seriousness, the QA process is where the hallmarks of CSOFT’s translation work – that is, consistency, accuracy, and contextual precision – are established. If these things are missing, or haven’t been given enough prominence – as is often the case with translators who work without the necessary resources on hand – then it’s not really translation. Or at least not the type of translation we provide. Smiles.

Chiara smiles through a flurry of work requests

What is your secret to being a successful manager?

In my case, I would say that I love my team the same way that they love me. It’s very balanced: I put pressure on them the same way they put pressure on me. And I like pushing my team to see how far they can go, but it’s the trust that we have between one another that makes everything happen as smoothly and efficiently as it does.

What do you see as the future of translation?

I know exactly what you’re referring to – you’re talking about Machine Translation (MT), something those of us in the translation industry are very familiar with. MT will definitely play a significant role in the future of translation, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to skip the QA process, which is reliant on a human with native target language abilities and subject-matter expertise to check the files after completion.

We have a few clients now who are rather excited about MT and are moving more in that direction, but the element missing from all MT tools at the moment is consistency and the ability to choose the right translation for the right context, and that’s a quality concern that only a native linguist can ensure. As a translation professional, it pays to keep abreast of all technological innovations in the industry. That being said, it’s also important to keep a level head and not be entirely seduced by the potential of any new technology. Going into the future, it seems inevitable that the industry will change, but language professionals will be at the heart of these changes, as opposed to being sidelined by them.

What song best represents CSOFT?

I’m a smiley person, so I just love the Gnarls Barkley song “Smiley Faces.” I can really identify with it personally, and it’s what I see around here:  smiles everywhere. Laughs. It’s really nice. Part of the lyrics say “Your worries and fears become your friend and they end up smiling at you,” and that’s what happens here. You learn from crises and then, when the next challenge comes along, you’re ready to meet it with a smile. Smiles.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSOFT’s 10th Annual World Summit, please contact csoft10@csoftintl.com.

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