1. What language(s) do you translate/interpret?

My professional, working languages are English, French, Spanish. I am a Sworn Translator for the Consulate of France.
I also have modest level proficiency to read or listen to other Romance languages and German.

2. How did you become bilingual? Or how did you become involved in the translation/interpreting industry?

I have always had an aptitude for languages, and I grew up in a densely multicultural setting in California. My earliest memories include learning basic Spanish, French, and German words from people around me. I began formal studies in French by age 12. Several trips to Mexico enticed me to jump into Spanish 2-Honors during my last year in high school. At Linfield University, I majored in French and minored in Spanish and European Studies. This degree included a year at the Institute for American Universities (IAU) in France, immediately followed by an intensive term at Forrester Instituto Internacional in Costa Rica. All along the way, I soaked up my classmates’ German textbooks, my Japanese roommate’s tongue twisters, and basic phrases in many other languages from everyone else.

How did I elect a career in translation? An alumna from IAU gave a guest-lecture at my school in France. She outlined her path from the school in which we sat, through Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS) to a senior position in the US Embassy. This path intrigued me, especially as I considered the focused offerings at MIIS: translation, interpreting, international politics, and international business. Alas a Masters Degree was not a realistic option. I soaked up all the practicum learning about translation that my Linfield professors could offer – including introductions to several of my very first clients. Upon graduating from Linfield, I pursued a strategic career path in a series of multilingual job settings to build my experience and business knowledge. In parallel, I cultivated my own translation clientele in a side-hustle. By August 2001, I left my last employer (a translation agency) and dedicated myself fully to building my own business.

3. Tell us about a job/assignment that really stands out in your memory.

This could be a long list of the curious and strange… One poignant project around 2005 was for an NGO fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria across Latin America. The NGO had interviewed some AIDS patients – what their lives were like and how they struggled to access health care. I was entranced by a particular Peruvian chef’s scrumptious descriptions of the cuisine and how he maintained optimism in the face of a persistent and deadly disease. Over the span of a few years, I translated a half-million words on the topic of health care infrastructure across Africa and Latin America to control HIV and malaria.

4. What career would you have if you weren’t a linguist?

October will mark my 25th year in the language services profession. I can’t even imagine doing something else. The only other path that intrigues me involves international trade consulting for an economic development agency.

5. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I worked at a broad variety of jobs from agriculture to retail and heavy manufacturing to cutting-edge high tech when I was young. My translation career only broadened that exposure. So it’s hard to narrow the field, but here goes…

In 1998-99, I was employed as a bilingual corporate trainer at one of the nation’s large horticultural nurseries. My responsibilities included learning, then teaching, Deming’s principles of Total Quality Management (more commonly referred to today as LEAN or Agile) to 700 employees in 2 languages. Obviously, this theme was broken into many lessons and modules and different hands-on applications for each job function across the nursery. As part of training myself so I could train others better, I spent a block of time each week in the field learning each step my co-workers performed, what they measured, and how they might document or improve their processes. I absorbed a little of everything from wholesale sales, propagating new plants, spraying, inventory management, labeling plants on the docks, manually loading semi-trailers (OMG, that’s hard work!)…. I was also responsible for booking college professors to come to the jobsite and teach English and Spanish classes, Spanish literacy, basic computers, and arithmetic. Plus, I provided translation and interpreting for a broad range of settings. Although I ultimately outgrew my container at Monrovia, I still have a profound respect for that company and how it grows its craftspeople in addition to its plants.

6. What is one type of souvenir you always try to collect when you travel?

Postcards to add to my scrapbooks. About 3 years ago, I started collecting flag pins from the countries I visited. The first ones were friendship pin gifts from various diplomatic personnel. Nowadays, you’ll often see me sporting a hat featuring these flag pins.

7. If money was not limited, what country would you visit next?

Tough decision. I have business reasons that I ought to return to Spain and France soon. But if this is a vacation… you would find a world atlas in my living room filled with post-notes marking all the places we want to travel. The challenge is that I have already visited the parts of the world that my spouse has not visited, and vice versa.

8.  As the CEO of a proudly woman-owned business, do you think that LOVE has a place in business? Any thoughts on “Good Business Means Engaging from the Heart, Not Just the Head”?

I revisited the Greek words for love to address this point (philia, eros, ludus, agape…); none of these seem to fit in a business setting. Instead, I find that it’s very valuable for one be passionate about her job. If one isn’t passionate, she won’t push herself harder to do her best. Compassion is also essential because this deeper sensibility helps one step out of her own position to understand her customers and her teammates better. Passion and compassion are not the same as love, yet one needs to know love to have passion and compassion.

9. Why do you personally care about embedding inclusion and belonging in our culture?

All humans have different life experiences, this equates to different ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. Some of those distinctive interactions contribute to innovation and efficiency and more positive engagement between people, the environment, and economics. I never know which new ideas will help me be a better person or a better business leader, so I try to live out a willingness to receive new ideas and improvements – both in my personal life and in my business.

10. How can our community be a better support system to the female business- owners in our lives?

I will repeat the importance of compassion. Structurally, U.S. society needs to make childcare more accessible and affordable so women do not have to choose family versus career. The Equal Rights Amendment (and pay equity) need to be systemically promulgated.

11. If you have the ability to mentor another woman, where would you start and why?

I do participate actively in a number of online discussion groups for women entrepreneurs. First priority is to listen. Let her tell me where she is in her journey, where she dreams of going, where she is stuck. Everyone needs something different for different markets, different stages of business, different industries…. When an entrepreneur is stuck and asking for help (not simply letting off steam), I try to offer a distinctive angle that helps her see the situation in a new way that helps her create the answer for herself. For example, when someone asks “what’s the best project management software,” I don’t drop the name of the tool that works for me. Instead, I recommend that the entrepreneur first define the MUST-HAVE and Nice-to-have features that she needs in the tool.