I’m a versatile, experienced translator who got to this profession by chance. I started studying Business Administration in an American University. This degree was not available at that time in Spanish universities, but was introduced shortly after I got my Bachelor’s degree. In those days, my intention was to become an entrepreneur, but then, after finishing the university I ended up in Spain at a very difficult time because the unemployment rate was about 23% and finding a job was almost a mission impossible.
After a period unemployed, I was contacted by the Spanish Employment Agency to offer me a job as translator in Birmingham, UK, which, after holding the corresponding interviews, I accepted immediately. I had nothing better to do at that time and I liked the idea of moving to England for a time. As I had lived in the USA during my university days I could speak English very well, but I had never made translations. During that recruitment process, I was not requested to perform a translation test. It was given for granted that speaking English very well implied being a good translator. This is the first big error that I had the opportunity of experiencing in my own flesh later on.
On arriving at the offices of that company in Birmingham, where I worked as translator for the first time, an AS-400 software-based company, I was assigned to a team of 4 translators in charge of the translations into Spanish. None of them had a degree in translation for the simple reason that back then (1996) that degree was hardly available in Spanish universities. One of the translators, who had a degree in English Philology and had been there for the longest time, was the team leader and the person in charge of training us on the tasks that we had to do. I remember that another translator, also a Spaniard and also with a degree in English Philology, joined this company at the same time as me, so we were both trained together.
After a couple of weeks becoming familiar with the company, the documentation to be translated and the tools to be used, it was about time to perform our first translation job. Both of us were looking forward to starting the real work as we thought we were already capable of doing it with the required quality. We did the first tests, which were corrected by two translators (the most experienced ones) of the team, the team leader and another one. Well let me tell you that our results could not have been more disastrous. And we both really thought that we had performed very good translations, but our tests were returned full of corrections in red. There was more red colour in the paper than black ink in the test printout. What could have happened? It was simply what I mentioned before, we could speak English very well, but none had worked as a translator before. We ignored the trade of being a translator, of writing and many other things that we had to learn on the fly.
These corrections embarrassed me a lot and, as I got a lot of self-respect, I crammed for those corrections in order to not make those mistakes again, and I have to say that the next document that I translated resulted in fewer corrections, so gradually over the weeks the red colour disappeared from my translations. I have never forgotten that first correction, which I must confess that made me angry and hurt my pride, but they were right, and I have never learned so much about translations than from those corrections that they made me in those first weeks. Then, of course, based on experience and training, one builds his own reputation, but I always like to recall those days in which I started to learn this trade that still delights me after almost twenty years.
Following my story, after a period of time working as translator in Birmingham, I felt homesick and started to find a job in Spain. Finally, I managed to find it in a Danish software company manufacturing business solutions that was starting its operations in Spain. Its name was Navision Software and I say “was” because later on (I had already left the company), it was acquired by Microsoft and is now called Microsoft Dynamics. I worked there as translator and technical writer of functionality manuals. That was a time of hard work and a lot of learning, not so much about translating as about technical writing, which involved becoming familiar with computer applications and with the entire manufacturing process of a computer program. When this company hired me, I was the eighth one in the company and, when I left the company, we were a team of about fifty. Today, as this company was merged into Microsoft, it is part of the most emblematic software company that exists.
I left Navision because there was another company in Spain that was expanding its operations at that time, Meta4, and made me a very good offer. It was a Spanish technological company that produced a very successful application that managed the payroll and human resources of a company. I thought this was an opportunity I could not reject, especially, in view of the future expectations that may lay ahead. I went to work for this company as technical writer of texts in both Spanish and English. It was a great help for me the fact of knowing quite well the Framemaker word processor, as it was the tool used for creating the documentation. I already used to work with this application in Navision and that experience was a key point for my recruitment and for fulfilling successfully my role as technical writer. These first years at Meta4 were simply great. Navision was also a company that cared a lot for its employees, but Meta4 gave us things like renting the Multisport Centre in Entremontes twice a week, at lunch time, in order to play indoor football and basketball for free, inviting us to eat “churros” every Friday morning; in addition, we were allowed to have our own work schedule in order to reconcile family life and a professional career. We were delighted of working there, motivated and proud of our company. But of course, all good things come to an end, and Meta4 started having financial problems that led to several labour force adjustment plans, and in the second one of them, I was included in it. In any case, my memories of that company and of the people I worked with there are excellent.
After Meta4, I find a new job almost immediately. Another company manufacturing a business software and hardware based on remote location of people and vehicles showed interest in me and I joined them shortly after. It was an application suitable, for example, for transport companies in order to locate and track the vehicle fleet in real time, to know where they are at all times, if there is any incident in them, etc. It is also suitable to locate people, namely, children, patients or elderly people, and know where they are at all times and if they get out of a designated area. In that company I performed, in my opinion, the best and most fulfilling work as employed worker of my professional life. It was a company owned mainly by British shareholders and, also partly, by Spanish shareholders. The business solution comprised lots of different applications, and more or less half of them were produced in Leeds, England, and the rest, here in Spain. My role had lots of different tasks, as I was in charge of the technical writing of the online help and user guides of the applications that were produced in Spain, and also the translation into Spanish of the online help related to the applications produced in England, which were written by a fellow technical writer located in the Leeds office; I also had to translate the software files of the UK-based applications. This way, we generated two versions of the entire software and its documentation, one in English and another one in Spanish. In addition, I was in charge of managing the translation into other languages of both the online help and the documentation; specifically, into French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, and a small localisation into US English and AUS English. This task involved finding a pool of translators for each required language pair, selecting the most suitable ones, sending them the files, supporting them during the entire translation process, receiving the files back from them, processing these files, in the case of the online help, using RoboHelp, in order to leave them ready for integration into the application. In sum, my participation in the process required for generating a new build of a computer application was high, and the work done was rewarding and very satisfactory. However, this nice period had a very disappointing ending, as the company generated losses that resulted in bankruptcy. In any case, I also have an excellent memory of the people with whom I worked in this company. They were mainly young people with excellent qualifications, and to me it was a great pleasure to work with them, and learn from them.
AND MORE RECENTLY…
After my work experience at Minorplanet, I worked for another company for a short period of time. This company produced an application very similar to that of Minorplanet, in fact, this company was its direct competitor in Spain. In any case, I will not provide much detail about this period as this company also ended up in bankruptcy.
Following these two big disappointments, which involved mass layoff due to the companies’ state of insolvency, I had the opportunity of working for a company of the Santander Group, Isban, which manufactured banking software, which was in turn installed in all banks of the Group in Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal and United States, among others. I started working for this company on a freelance basis, under a collaboration agreement signed with a third-party. That is, Isban had lots of different providers, and when they needed a worker for a specific area, they contacted one of these providers, explained them their needs, in my case, a Spanish>English>Spanish translator; then, the provider contracted me as a freelancer, but I had to go to work to Isban’s office as an standard employee of the bank and do my job. It was needless to say that as soon as my services were no longer required, Isban would notify this fact to the provider and my agreement would be terminated. Soon I knew that of 3,000 employees making up Isban’s workforce at that time, around 2,500 worked under conditions similar to those of mine. I guess this was a legal situation, but not very ethical in my opinion. In Isban, I knew people of my time at Meta4, in fact, many of the people fired as a result of any of the various Layoff Plans ended up in Isban, which started its operations at that same time. The owner of the provider that contracted me to work for Isban, in fact, worked for Meta4 as well as the manager of the department where I was going to work. My time at Isban, as opposed to that in the other companies I had worked for, was not satisfactory. I came from two companies that ended up in bankruptcy, and this fact made me lose a lot of money that I could never recover, and then I went to a company that hired me as a freelancer in order to get rid of me as needed. What a pain! Everything related to Isban was a bad experience and, to be honest, I prefer to forget about it.
So at the end of 2008, I settled myself as a freelance translator. My first client was one of the translation agencies (Linguahub) that made translations for Isban. This way, I continued doing the same type of translations (software and banking) as those I used to do in Isban. I maintained my collaboration with this translation agency until mid-2013, and for all this time, it was my primary client. From 2009, I am collaborating with the translation agency Word Works for the translation and update of the online help provided in the Amadeus travel system. I’m doing the translation from English into Spanish and today I continue doing online help updates on a monthly basis. I also receive periodic commissions from different marketing and advertising companies and from a NGO (Movimiento por la paz). From 2011, I’m collaborating with Irish company Lifes2good, which commercialises several brands positioned in the health and beauty industry, such as Viviscal and Emjoi. For them I’m doing translations into both Spanish and English of different texts related to these brands. Finally, from 2013, I’m collaborating with the Spanish Association of Land Registrars (CORPME) in the translation from Spanish into English of information extracts on properties requested via Web page. I have also made translations of a cultural or artistic nature, as those performed for texts included in art catalogues, movie scripts, and a novel (not published yet) by author Kenneth Mckenney.
Since I settled myself as a freelancer, I must admit that my fields of terminology opened up a lot. From translations on such fields as software/hardware, legal and marketing, which were the usual thing when I used to work for a company, I’m doing now translations that belong to other fields, as I have explained above. This is not very orthodox, I know, as what a translator usually does is specialising in one or two fields and becoming an expert in those areas. In my case, different opportunities were offered to me and I simply decided to go ahead. And I have to say that the final result of those translations makes me feel very proud. And here I am, taking very good care of my clients (a client is a treasure) and looking for new opportunities that may arise in the future. I’ll keep you posted…