Reflecting on 2023, highlights and memorable moments
For many, 2023 could be described as a hard year – often it felt like good news was in short supply. The increasing cost of living, spiraling interest rates, and recession have made it a long and difficult year, and add to these the ongoing war in Ukraine and the devastating events in Gaza and we can only hope for brighter times in 2024.
But if you know me, you know I am ever the optimist, and so I like to focus on the times of joy and goodness that 2023 has brought. It has been great to witness how the advances in technology, heightened during the pandemic, have enabled more efficient, sustainable and inclusive ways of working. Most of the conferences for which I have interpreted this year have been hybrid structures, and in our increasingly busy lives, this flexibility now seems to be essential.
Artificial Intelligence has been at the forefront of many conversations this year, and the advancements in this area continue to astound me. Whilst I am confident that it is unlikely a human interpreter could be fully replaced by AI, the advances in this technology are an area in which I am keeping myself informed, and I think the best outcome may be that we are all astute at knowing how to use this tech to best assist how we carry out our jobs and serve our clients. It will certainly be an area that I follow strongly in 2024 and beyond, I’m sure.
And on to events that I will remember from 2023. The Coronation of King Charles III in May has to go down as one of my most memorable moments; it was spectacular to absorb the joyous atmosphere in London. As for many, it was my first Coronation and the pomp and glory were truly something to behold. The centuries-old traditions unfolded before my eyes: what an enchanting experience. It left me with a profound appreciation for the significance of such historic events and grateful that I was able to be in London to soak it all up.
And on that happy note, it’s a good time to look at my business highlights of 2023. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I am happy to recall them.
The year started with a bang with the annual TerpSummit, an online conference arranged by interpreters for interpreters, which I have attended since its inception.
I took particular interest in the session focusing on time management, as time is somewhat of a precious commodity for us all. I have been trying to use the takeaways from this session throughout the year, to enable me to be more efficient and more focused and certainly some of the strategies have been so helpful.
Interestingly, the TerpSummit shared a compelling statistic: 72% of interpreters now embrace a more collaborative spirit compared to the past, marking a noteworthy shift from competition to collaboration. I firmly believe that the path of collaboration yields richer rewards than the path of competition and this shift seems to reinforce that conviction. It is good to know I’m not alone in thinking this way!
My February focus was very much on improving my online visibility. I considered, in particular, the benefits of my Google Business Account and logging client reviews – don’t underestimate the importance of a good review! I also upgraded my blogs, a free resource for my audience whilst boosting my SEO rating (meaning your business comes higher up on search engines).
There are so many ways to engage with your audience online, make contact and generate new business, but these don’t happen by chance. I invest strongly in my social media presence – are we connected on LinkedIn or Instagram? In today’s online environment, it is so important. But even in EM Forster’s day (1879 – 1970) it was still deemed necessary. His words, “Only connect”, resonate strongly with me.
From shower toilets, missiles and air defence to edible oils, feminine care and crackers, what do all these things have in common? They’re all topics I interpreted about in March. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn in my job, about areas of life of which I would most likely not be aware otherwise.
I was pleased to assist a family who were purchasing a condominium and wanted to understand the content of blocks management meeting before the sale went through. Working on personal tasks is an aspect of my role I thoroughly enjoy, it was great to be involved in achieving a helpful and positive outcome for my clients.
And just to keep the month interesting and varied, another standout assignment was for Ferrari, for which I had to ensure my vocabulary around motor vehicles was up to speed! It was great to have a day around such glorious vehicles!
The longer, lighter days reminded me to share the tree-planting initiative I joined earlier this year. I have been planting with Evertreen for some time now, and am delighted that my shoots have risen in Indonesia, Hawaii and Nepal. It is a great initiative that I would highly recommend if, like me, you want to aim for a carbon-neutral life. Perhaps joining Evertreen could be your New Year’s Resolution?
April always seems to be the month that European Works Council (EWC) meeting preparations commence and 2023 was no different. Over the years I have built up a host of EWC clients who I interpret for, year in and year out; sometimes it feels less like work and more like seeing old friends.
I have been fortunate to work in some wonderful countries including Croatia, Ireland, Italy, France and Germany (to name but a few!) and be exposed to a wide variety of industries through these assignments. And, whilst it can be easy to become complacent when you are working in such a familiar environment, I work hard to ensure that every meeting is approached with the most thorough level of preparation.
Do you remember how you marked the Coronation? My family and I couldn’t resist getting into the thick of it, and absorbed the incredible atmosphere in London with the most momentous day. This was one for my core memory bucket, most definitely!
One of my favourite assignments in May was interpreting at the Italy ReStartsUp event. Commencing with an opening networking cocktail evening at the stunning Italian Embassy, the main corporate event was to showcase Italian innovation. It was superb to be a part of bridging the language barrier and helping to forge relationships between Italian entrepreneurs and the UK market. I hope that this might become an annual event; it was so eye-opening and inspiring to be alongside these new businesses.
In June I donned my Project Manager hat for an event at The Gherkin in London, ensuring flawless execution of the event from an AV and interpreting standpoint. Unless you have experience in this industry, it can be very difficult to know what technology is necessary for an individual or a team of interpreters for an event. Working in a project manager capacity for many years now, I act as a single point of contact for the client to arrange all interpreting and technical aspects, including coordinating the necessary equipment so that my clients can be assured of a top-quality event.
I find it hugely satisfying to work on a project like this, where I am involved from conception through to successful conclusion and witnessing the overwhelmingly positive reactions from our diverse guests left me in awe.
Travel was fully on the agenda this July with assignments in Amsterdam and Paris (which is always a joy as I can combine business with visiting my daughter who is at university in the city) and interpreting for industries ranging from wind turbine manufacturing to pharmaceuticals. It was a varied, busy and thoroughly interesting month.
Looking back through my Instagram photos from the year reminded me of a wonderful client with whom I just clicked. Italian dental marketing firm, Ideandum, were such a fun, vibrant group it was an absolute pleasure to work with them. I was embraced as part of their team from the word go, and so at all times felt like my input was valued.
Moreover, they were the first company to have ever thanked me for my work by dedicating a slide to me within their presentation deck! This gesture meant a great deal to me and I really hope that there will be another opportunity in future where we can work together again.
What is the best way a client has ever said “thank you” to you? Do share!
I will always have fond memories of August this year, as rather than taking a traditional two-week holiday I decided to trial a “workcation”, spending six weeks in Italy with my family on a mixture of holidaying and working.
It felt like a superb opportunity to spend precious time with those closest to me, whilst also fulfilling my professional responsibilities.
As I discovered, workcations require some management, so if you’re planning to do something similar this year, here’s my three top tips for a successful workcation:
1. Schedule at least a week during the workcation where you will not have any work planned. Your mind needs some time to fully switch off.
2. If you are travelling with family, share your work schedule so they know what to expect. They can then plan events and days out around you.
3. Make sure where you are located has good Wi-Fi!
Working in a new, serene, environment is indeed a great boost for productivity and creativity and it was marvellous to be able to spend August in the sun.
Apart from being my birthday, it was a month of review, renew and refresh for me! Do you feel the same about September?
However, in addition to my half-yearly check-in of business aims and objectives, there is one event for me in September which is becoming somewhat of a tradition – the wonderful Journées Savoir-faire Dior event, which this year was held at Christian Dior’s majestic new London store on Sloane Street.
The consecutive interpreting assignment meant I interpreted for two Florentine Couture Artisans named Agnese and Elena. Between them, they have over thirty years of experience designing and creating extremely limited pieces of art for Dior’s prominent VIPs. The Journées Savoir-Faire event provided a glimpse into the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into each process for this truly iconic piece. Surrounded by high society clientele, the 300 guests were equally entranced by the sparkle and allure of the world-class bags and the knowledge generously shared by Agnese and Elena.
As always, it was an experience nothing short of magical. Being Italian, fashion is in my blood, so this assignment is one of the high points of my calendar. I am always thrilled to be invited back and I never take this for granted! And yes, indeed, I cannot resist buying a small memento to mark the occasion (sadly not a Lady Dior bag!), so my Dior collection grows annually, too!
The ruling on the EWC meetings in a post-Brexit age hit the headlines at this point of the year. In a pivotal Court of Appeal decision, EWCs endure for select UK-based businesses post-Brexit. This decision, influenced by 2019 employment regulation changes and the EasyJet case, mandates UK companies with pre-Brexit EWCs to manage dual councils under UK and EU law.
While this may bring practical challenges for companies, I look forward to continuing to provide clear and inclusive communication at EWC meetings, facilitating effective navigation of this nuanced legal landscape.
The end of the year didn’t bring any degree of slowdown, in fact the pace continued to be furious! Navigating assignments in Rome, Zurich and Dublin across industries from criminal justice and manufacturing, to technology, to the beauty industry and even pest control, I was most certainly kept on my toes!
You will know by now that I like to be busy, so this last-minute whirlwind to the year was exactly how I enjoy working. The variety of industries required me to be efficient with my preparation and organisation, but it is exciting, often exhilarating work.
What aspects of your role do you find most exciting? Is it working with new clients, or travelling to different places, perhaps?
For the first time ever, I had the privilege of exploring the historic British Parliament. A private tour was followed by a delightful Christmas reception, arranged by The Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK. Take a look at my recent LinkedIn post for some photos from the event.
The evening was a vibrant mix of celebration, networking, and festive joy. It was not just a visit, but a journey through the pages of history, leaving an indelible mark on my heart.
And so another year has flown by and my passport has been tucked away for a couple of weeks, at least, so I can spend some time with my family and friends, enjoying a mince pie and a glass of prosecco!
There have been so many highlights from the year it has been a pleasure to review them all and remind myself how fortunate I am to work in a career that brings me so much joy.
What have your career high points of 2023 been? It would be great to hear about them; drop me an email to let me know.