Wednesday, 20 May 2009

ITI Conference 2009

When most of your communication happens online, conferences are the perfect place for meeting colleagues and, potentially, clients in real life.

Last weekend I was among the delegates attending the 2009 ITI International Conference at 1 Birdcage Walk in London (the “Institution of Mechanical Engineers”), just a stone’s throw away from famous tourist sights such as the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. There were networking opportunities galore, both on the night before at a fringe event at the Old Star Pub at 66 Broadway in Westminster and of course during the conference itself. The conference was themed “Sustainability in Translation“, offering a stimulating and extremely varied programme of sessions and presentations, all of them centring around the buzzword “sustainability“ to a greater or lesser degree.

The Old Star Pub in Westminster, London

Environmental issues specifically in relation to translation and interpreting were covered by Cat Akana, who runs a translation company specialising in this field. She named climate change and “peak oil“, which will mean the end of cheap transportation of goods, as the greatest challenges facing us all, and in particular sectors such as the government, businesses and civil society. As a consequence, there is a constant need for materials to be translated or interpreted, not least because sustainability issues are becoming more and more mainstream. Generally, as major changes are lying ahead of us, working towards a positive vision of the future will be required. 

Institute of Mechanical Engineers, London

Philippa Hammond, a London-based freelance translator, and Sarah Dillon, an Australian-based translator presenting from her home office in Brisbane on this day, offered an inspiring insight into the world of social media tools. Philippa stressed that interactive sites such as document collaboration tools, blogs, micro-blogging sites (e.g. Twitter), social networks and communities (e.g. Facebook), unlike static websites, provided the advantage of a global reach, which is an important feature as, in the end, as translators we are all global businesses! She added that, from a marketing point of view, they were effective tools for growing one’s professional network and for raising one’s profile organically. Sarah then talked us through the most relevant features of LinkedIn, which offer an easy way of having an online business presence.

Philippa Hammond and Sarah Dillon

The panel discussion afterwards focussed on "where to draw the line" in terms of how business relationships can be placed on a proper footing. It also touched on good and bad practices in drawing up terms for work assignments. Paul Appleyard highlighted the ever so important role of the translation brief, which may even be considered the most important part of the whole translation process and should therefore usually be clearly defined. Nick Rosenthal had valuable tips in store on how to offer good customer service and build and foster client relationships.

I warmly recommend ITI conferences to anyone working in the translation and interpreting industry. They provide an opportunity to leave the office for a couple of days to catch up with or get to know fellow professionals. I enjoy going to ITI conferences where I can pause for a while, reflect on what I have achieved so far, and pick up on new trends and challenges.