Saturday, 4 June 2022

ITI Conference 2022

It was wonderful and weird at the same time, to the point of feeling almost surreal: getting together again in the flesh for an ITI Conference! The delight about being actually, physically there, able to talk face to face, as remarked upon by Dr Isabella Moore CBE Hon FITI in her engaging speech, sums up the general mood at this year’s eagerly anticipated ITI Conference.

The ITI Conference was held at the Grand Hotel in Brighton on 31 May and 1 June 2022 and was entitled “Embracing change, emerging stronger”. It was a vibrant and memorable event, which encouraged thinking about new ways to future-proof both our businesses and our lives. 


The ITI Conference 2022 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton
was a vibrant and memorable event

A hybrid event with physical distance no longer a barrier to attendance

It was not just the ITI’s first in-person large-scale event after the pandemic, but also its first-ever hybrid event: all sessions attended by on-site attendees were recorded and live-streamed to online attendees worldwide. These were then made available to all attendees to watch at a later time. Attendees consequently no longer faced any dilemmas about having to decide which sessions to attend, while reluctantly having to miss out on others.

The programme was rich and varied, and consisted of four streams (three for translation and one for interpreting), which were running simultaneously. It featured notable and inspiring speakers, who were happy to share not just working methods, but also their personal experiences and ways of coping in recent times – confidently, in an open and strikingly honest way, or enthusing us with their energy or humour!


The event encouraged thinking about new ways
to future-proof both our businesses and our lives

The iconic and opulent Grand Hotel on the Brighton seafront was an ideal venue for the event, and there is really only one downside that I feel needs mentioning (as I heard it remarked upon several times): in the Pavilion and the Charlotte Room, where attendees were able to mingle and chat during the welcome drinks reception and coffee breaks, sound absorption was so poor that, regrettably, it was hard to talk to and understand one other.

The world is changing rapidly, and so we must change

It is impossible to provide a condensed overview of the content of all individual sessions, but I’m sure all of us conference-goers have gathered up their own precious nuggets of take-home ideas and inspiration for embracing change. Thank you so much to all the speakers!

My own personal highlights (as I’m about to start thinking about a diversification of my business) include: the presentation by Amelie Aichinger MITI about how to approach a new specialisation; the presentation by Cecilia Lipovsek AITI on strengthening your business with intellectual property; and the panel discussion on learning a new language with Paul Appleyard MITI, Lloyd Bingham MITI, Kasia Wawrzon-Stewart MITI, Richard Davis MITI and Gwen Clayton FITI, which touched on aspects of continued skill development at various stages of our careers.


The hard skills of translation

One personal impression (at least one gleaned from the sessions I attended) was that machine translation, although it did receive a mention here and there, is no longer the hot topic it was at some previous translators’ events. The general consensus now seems to be that the way forward is to simply embrace and exploit machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to our advantage (where it’s useful).


The focus of some talks was very much on the importance of hard skills – in other words, actual translation as opposed to post-editing work – as well as the added-value human end of translation: this, according to Lloyd Bingham MITI, is the part of the market that we want to operate in. He argued that soft skills are still important – especially in the digital world –, but there is no longer such a heavy focus on them.


The ITI Conference 2022 was the ITI's
first-ever hybrid event

Rekindling old friendships, networking and learning

Other highlights for me outside the conference programme were the fringe activities, an important part of any ITI Conference: a pub meal with a contingent of the ITI’s German network translators at The Lion & Lobster; drinks with the ITI’s patent translators (the STEP Group) at The Walrus pub; and later on a meal with three people from the STEP Group (who, like me, had not booked for the conference Gala Dinner) at The Prince George pub.

Networking and fringe activities are an important part of any ITI Conference

My overall impression of the ITI Conference 2022 was that it was an invigorating experience for everyone and a great success. It was all about “the rekindling of old friendships, networking and learning”, as described by ITI CEO Paul Wilson in his opening speech. The appeal of an ITI Conference such as this one, beautifully described by one conference attendee, lies in “the magic of genuine human connection”. 

Thank you to the ITI for organising this year’s conference in Brighton, and for the enrichment that was brought about by stimulating presentations and the networking opportunities in the warm and friendly atmosphere that marks any ITI Conference. It was intensive, it was tiring – but it was worthwhile on so many levels.