Interview with Tea Dietterich, CEO of 2M Language Services
Could you tell us more about the history of 2M Language Services?
I founded the company myself as a sole trader, literally with a laptop in the back of my bedroom in 1999. Under my first trading name, Multimedia Languages & Marketing, I initially offered my services as a translator and interpreter in Spanish, English and German. However, soon clients started to ask me if I could provide translations in Chinese and other languages and that’s how I started to sub-contract to other handpicked and talented translator colleagues I knew well through the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators. The company grew organically over time. I started to employ project managers and we introduced procedures, workflow systems and language technology. I actually only incorporated the company as 2M Communications Pty Ltd in 2006. It has now been known as 2M Language Services since 2011. In 2012, I opened an office in Paris, and more recently another one in Sydney, but our head-office remains in Brisbane where we also have our studio. In addition to translation & localization services and conference interpreting, 2M also offers voice over production and subtitling, cross cultural training and communications services to Australian companies who do business in Africa. 2M has currently 7 permanent staff, over 550 regular language professionals on their panel and a wider carefully sourced talent team of 1800.
Today we offer localization and translation from and into 170 languages across all industries: advertising, marketing, business, mining, financial, legal, engineering, medical, information technology, life style, film scripts, literature, wine and food. We service large corporations such as Dupont, Gillette, Microsoft, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, small businesses, government departments, exporters, advertising agencies, publishing houses, printing companies, law firms as well as individuals.
How would you concretely describe the activity of 2M Language Services?
2M Language Services (2M) is one of Australia's leading language service providers offering accurate, high quality translations into 170+ languages including rare and emerging languages as well as indigenous Australian languages. Translations are realised by language professionals who are experienced and graduated mother tongue linguists from all over the world. In Australia, all our translators are accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). Our international translators are all hand-picked and we work with professionals of diverse sectors in order to provide high quality technical documents. We also have a team of international accredited journalists at hand for copy writing and editing. Translating represents overall 50-60% of our activity. That said, we nowadays prefer talking about ‘localization’ rather than ‘translation’. For instance when a company wishes to expand into a new market, adapting its communications and marketing material (website, brochures, flyers, posters, social media platforms) requires a lot more than a simple translation. It requires being culturally sensitive. Our international team is able to identify the cultural gaps and offers advice both in terms of editorial and visual content. More broadly, 2M can advise on communications and how to do business internationally.
Can you describe your personal background and your role as CEO of 2M Language Services?
From a German-Finnish descent, I hold degrees in Translation, Interpreting, Linguistics and Cultural Studies for Spanish, English, German and French from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and University of Granada. Recruited by the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce as their Head Interpreter and Translator and commissioned to write the German “Business Traveller's Guide to Sydney & the Olympic Games’, I came to Sydney in 1997. In parallel of running my sole trader activity, in 2000, I established an Indigenous Language Interpreting Service, the ‘Kimberley Interpreting Service’ in WA that provides NAATI accredited interpreters in indigenous languages. I have been now totally dedicated to 2M Language Services for the last 13 years and as the company and staff grew my role has changed.
My job in the last few years, especially since I have settled in Paris has been to ensure that our company evolves, modernises and is up to international standards. My move to Europe 3 years ago has been a real eye-opening experience in that regard and a huge mile stone for the company. I have had the opportunity to participate in high profile events in London, Madrid, Miami, Istanbul, Munich, Riga or the Silicon Valley, mingling and learning from international colleagues and competitors. In doing so, I came to realise that this industry in Australia lagged behind and I decided to import the latest technologies in terms of CAT server platforms and standardisation of content tools. Translating is a time consuming job done by highly qualified linguists, and therefore translating services are expensive. We cannot sacrifice quality. However, if we cannot save the cost of a good translator or editor, we can use the latest technologies to streamline our processes and cut cost for our clients. Over the last few years, I have had to rethink our business model, work on the automation of workflow and introduce CAT (Computer aided translation tools) that create a TM (translation memory for each specific client to make updates easier and faster and terminology consistent) to optimise our output. We are also running a pilot study on machine translation for testing purposes. This relates only to very specific type of technical texts. To stay abreast of the latest language technology developments, I also regularly attend international industry conferences such as GALA (Globalization and Localization Association), ELIA (European Language Industry Association) and Localization World Conferences. I am a GALA Board member and will be a conference speaker this week in Berlin at the upcoming Loc World Conference. Lastly I am the President of the Australasian Association of Language Companies (AALC).
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can the French-Australian Chamber help you achieve your objectives?
New digital technologies are revolutionising the way we do business and 2M will continue to keep adapting its business model in the future. I am constantly busy with innovation. Our goal is to help businesses grow into international markets and doing business globally. At 2M we are passionate about reaching new target audiences and about seeing businesses becoming successful. Language is a big part of it and the success of our clients is our success.
As a translator/interpreter, I am personally specialised in international trade and commerce, and have a special interest in the Australian Export Industry which has led me to be closely involved with the Australia China Business Council and the Export Council of Australia. I am familiar with Business Councils and Chambers in general and have been impressed by the activity of the French-Australian Chamber in each Chapter and by the high calibre of its members. In the past we occasionally attended events, but now we want to be fully involved providing content for E-news, giving webinar and presentations on how to become successful internationally as well as getting exposure and of course we would like to help your members reach their target markets.
For more information, please consult 2M Language Services' website: http://www.2m.com.au/ or follow @2mtranslations or @2mtraduction.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré on 12 May 2015.
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