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Q&A with Powerling's longest-standing employee: Jeannette Bakker

Interview with Jeannette Bakker - Head of the Netherlands office at Powerling.


Although the need for translation has always existed, it has only been a few decades that companies have started to spread all over the world.

Their main goal is to reach as many people as possible located in as many countries as possible, hence the need for translators. Since the rise of the Internet, such companies might have made wrong choices by translating on their own. So why is it better to trust a company like Powerling, with an experienced team?

1) You have been working at Powerling for 26 years now, which is a very big experience. What were or are the motivations that made you become a translator?
Simple, really: I loved languages, reading, Great Britain and the US, and was quite good in English. So I wanted to do something with English, but I didn’t want to become a teacher. My careers counsellor pointed me in the direction of a newly established educational institute: the ‘Academy of Translation and Interpreting’, as it was then called. I lived in Maastricht, in the south of the Netherlands, for three years, studying Translation. My languages were Dutch, English and Spanish, and I specialized in medical translations. I spent my third year as an exchange student at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

2) You started as a translator and now you are the manager of the Dutch team. What has changed in your professional life? Do you still translate? If not, do you miss it?
As manager of the Dutch team, I see my role mostly as the ‘linking pin’ between our in-house staff and the other Powerling offices and CEOs. As such, my task has changed from ‘production’ to organizing and communicating, top down and bottom up. I still translate, though: to guarantee continuity and consistency in translation work, it is sometimes necessary to apply my 26 years of experience there. I also sub as a PM, as well, so my days are always full.

3) What has, according to you, changed the most over the past 30 years in the translation world?
Without a doubt: technology. When I started my studies, we still used typewriters (now that makes me feel old!), now I couldn’t imagine translating without computers, CAT tools and the internet. What, surprisingly enough, has not changed as much as we thought back then, is machine translation. When I graduated in 1988, the fear was that translators would soon be out of work, because software would be available to make automatic translations. But if Google Translate is the norm, we have no need to be afraid… Translation fortunately for us still requires human intervention, the human brain to capture the exact meaning of words, sentences and texts.

4) Powerling has had great technological progress, especially due to the Déjà Vu software. Could you tell me a bit more about that?
I only use DV in my capacity as a translator. It is great as a translation tool, to guarantee consistency in terminology and translations. I think we could do more with it than we are currently doing, both in terms of its technological possibilities for translators and in terms of ‘selling’ it to our customers. DVX3 might be a perfect opportunity for this.

5) How would you describe Powerling in a few words?
As a language service provider that provides linguistics (and technological) solutions to our clients, a facilitator of communication.

6) Why would you recommend Powerling over any other company? (What are the main features of Powerling)
Powerling is a company dedicated to the world of translation and to its client base. With our 24/7 capability and multinational team, we can always deliver – whatever the client’s requirements.

7) To finish, do you have any funny anecdote that you want to share with us?
Yes, many, many years ago, we had a client with an almost impossible demand, something like ‘10,000 words before noon today’. In my capacity as head of the English department, I called them to try and explain. They put me through to the big boss, who really really needed the translation done quickly. When I told him that it was humanly impossible, he got angry and told us off for being so slow, basically shouting at me through the phone: Who are you, Emile Escargot?!


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