It’s time to get to know another member of the team here at COMUNICA. For today’s edition of the blog, we’re speaking to our Vendor and Quality Manager Paula Kalfirtova, who has been a member of the team since 2021.
Full name: Paula Kalfirtova
Languages spoken: Czech, Slovak, English. She is also learning Spanish and would like to learn Danish.
Q: What led you to get into the translation business?
A: As a Quality Manager in the translation business, my journey began with a deep passion for language and cultural diversity. Having lived most of my life abroad, I developed a taste for different languages and cultures from an early age.
Growing up and studying in a multicultural environment, I was always fascinated by the power of communication and how it can bridge gaps between people from different backgrounds. This fascination led me to go on to study a Master’s Degree with a focus on Linguistic Policy which nurtured my interest even further and marked the start of my journey into the translation business.
Personal factors played a role, too, especially in nudging me towards the Nordic languages. I have always been particularly captivated by the beauty and uniqueness of the Nordic languages – their rich history, poetic nature, and the close-knit communities they represent. This admiration fuelled my desire to explore these languages in greater depth and to understand their nuances, intricacies and cultural contexts.
My first vendor management position had me overseeing the Nordic market, and this gave me a good opportunity to further immerse myself in all things Nordic. This role also allowed me to recognise the growing demand for quality translations into and out of the Nordic languages, as a result of the remarkable ability of the Nordic countries to punch above their weight on the world stage. This is what led me to specialise in translation quality management with a focus on the Nordics.
Q: What brought you to Comunica Translations?
A: What brought me to Comunica Translations was having the opportunity to meet Tina Julsgaard, the company’s Managing Director, at the Nordic Translation and Interpreting Forum. Our brief encounter during this networking event left a lasting impression on me. I was genuinely inspired by COMUNICA’s business model as a boutique Nordic LSP, and it became a personal dream of mine to join a small team like theirs, which values such a personalised approach to both vendors and clients.
A few years later, I reached out to Tina through LinkedIn to reconnect and express my interest in joining her team. Fortunately, COMUNICA was seeking a Project Manager (PM) at the time, and I seized the opportunity to join their ranks. This role provided me with valuable first-hand experience of the daily challenges and responsibilities that PMs encounter. It allowed me to gain in-depth knowledge of their workflow, and this in turn equipped me to provide optimal support to our PMs and vendors in my current role as COMUNICA’s Vendor and Quality Manager.
Q: What does your role at COMUNICA involve?
A: As COMUNICA’s Vendor and Quality Manager, my role encompasses several key responsibilities. First and foremost, I am responsible for managing our network of vendors and in-house linguists, which involves conducting vendor performance evaluations and providing constructive feedback and recognition in order to foster professional growth and maintain high standards of quality. Another aspect of this position involves identifying and recruiting talented individuals who specialise in Nordic languages and relevant subject domains, ensuring that we have a diverse, skilled and proven pool of resources to meet our clients’ needs.
Maintaining and enhancing the quality of our localisation projects is another vital aspect of my role. I develop and implement quality-assurance processes and guidelines to ensure the accuracy, consistency and cultural appropriateness of our translations. This includes conducting quality checks, reviewing linguistic assets and providing feedback to vendors to improve their performance.
Q: Could you share one positive anecdote with us about your work?
A: One anecdote that truly highlights the perks of a boutique LSP revolves around resourcefulness and the strong relationships we have built with our linguists.
Last summer, during the peak of the cabin season in Norway, COMUNICA encountered a sudden surge in demand for projects requiring Norwegian linguists. However, the issue was of course that many Norwegian linguists were off taking extended breaks in their woodland cabins located in remote natural locations, often without any phone signal or internet access. Norwegian cabin culture is nothing short of a national obsession!
We sprang into action to try and find a solution, and – as we discovered later – one of our exceptional linguists really went above and beyond for one of our projects. In an incredible display of commitment, this linguist hiked all the way up a mountain to a spot where they could find some signal. From this isolated location, they actively supported our PMs, ensuring timely communication, answering queries and providing their linguistic expertise. Their dedication and willingness to go the extra mile – quite literally – left us amazed and deeply appreciative.
Q: And what about one not so positive anecdote?
A: We received a challenging request to build a team of Nordic medical translators with at least three years of experience in the medical industry. Typically, this would not have been that much of an issue as we do have a strong team of medical linguists who have been tested and vetted. The challenge was the complexity of the account and of the instructions involved, and the fact that the rates being offered were low. Not to mention the vendors had to be based in Norway – yet another constraint.
You may already know that the Nordic languages are amongst the world’s most expensive language pairs to translate, and medical translations are amongst the most expensive types. So this combination of factors meant it was very difficult to find linguists for the job, especially as the project called for responsible and experienced translators who are familiar with the sensitivity required in medical translations.
In the end, we managed to solve this problem through a two-pronged solution. Firstly, we agreed competitive rates with some of our trusted medical linguists by giving them compensation in the form of other projects we were able to offer them. Secondly, we also got some more experienced team members to mentor junior linguists who just about met the client’s requirements. And so with a bit of tenacity and ingenuity, we took what at first appeared to be an impossible task and we managed to meet the client’s needs with the support of our close network of amazing linguists.
Q: What is the future of the translation industry?
A: Our industry is undergoing a significant transformation with the advent of AI. Just like many in the COMUNICA team, I believe that AI is not advanced enough to replace human translators, but we are excited to utilise these new technological developments. While we will always champion the warmth and accuracy of human translation, we can also embrace AI and position ourselves as specialists in leveraging new technologies to enhance our services.
Our expertise lies in not only providing translation services, but also in understanding the intricacies of the localisation industry. By incorporating AI into our workflows, we can offer a comprehensive solution that combines the strengths of both humans and machines. This approach allows us to adapt to the changing landscape while maintaining our core values and delivering exceptional results to our clients.
I genuinely believe that COMUNICA has the potential to lead the way in this new era of localisation and still do what we do best – which is to provide a gateway to the Nordic market and a personal approach not only to our clients, but to our translators as well. By leveraging our strong experience and expertise, we can navigate these technological developments while still upholding the highest standards of quality. So overall, I’m excited about the possibilities of shaping the future of COMUNICA within this changing industry!
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: Just like our Nordic linguists, I love being in nature, especially when the sun is shining! Taking my dog on hikes and finding the perfect spots to do yoga is my idea of a perfect weekend. I draw enormous joy from immersing myself in nature whenever I have free time. There’s something truly magical about basking in the sunshine while surrounded by the beauty of the great outdoors. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll, an adventurous hike, or exploring hidden trails, being in nature rejuvenates my spirit and brings me a sense of tranquillity.
Beyond my love for nature, there’s one thing that truly tickles my taste buds – fruit! I am an unabashed fruit enthusiast. The vibrant colours, the enticing aromas and the burst of natural sweetness make me feel like I’m savouring nature’s edible treasures. But what’s even better is sharing these delightful treats with family and friends, including our wonderful COMUNICA team! There’s nothing quite like relishing the ripest fruits together, all while cherishing moments of laughter in good company.