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Half a billion words later...
Half a billion words later...
"In Barcelona, my residence, on the twenty-ninth of January of nineteen ninety-nine, Mr Michael Scholand, of legal age, of German nationality, a resident of Barcelona with registered address at Calabria street (...), appears before me, (...), Notary of the Official Association of Notaries of Catalonia, (...)",
These are the opening words of the STAR Servicios Lingüísticos articles of association, and that's how it all started, 20 years ago today. The articles of association are twenty-two pages long, with no less than seven pages detailing the movable property and its value, which, in the absence of other capital, I contributed to the company. An AMD K6 233 computer, valued at 194,645 pesetas, a 26k modem, valued at 4,250 pesetas, furniture and, above all, dictionaries, my beloved dictionaries: the New Collins Concise Dictionary, the English-Spanish Oxford Duden Pictorial Dictionary, the Dictionary of Misleading Terms, the ERNST Dictionary of Industrial Technology, the Slabý/Grossmann dictionary, the María Moliner dictionary, and many, many more.
I contributed everything I had and I also contributed myself, not knowing how to determine my own value and, above all, without knowing - as a translator - what was in store for me, as the sole partner and manager of a company. Without naivety there is no adventure, and without risk there is no reward.
Today, twenty years later, it is time to draw some conclusions from that adventure and the work of these last two decades.
We have translated half a billion words, completed the layout of thousands and thousands of pages, interpreted hundreds of hours at congresses, conferences and business meetings, aligned countless segments, transcribed audios and subtitled numerous videos, written a lot of content, created and managed an enormous amount of terminology and even compiled questions and answers for the Trivial Pursuit board game.
We have established the STAR brand in Spain, helping to promote the translation and assisted terminology management technology, installing Transit, the STAR translation memory, in multiple universities, giving presentations, lectures and teaching classes to students and Train the Trainer courses to teachers.
We have grown in a continuous and sustained way, adding more and more services and language combinations to our range of solutions, simultaneously developing structures and processes to optimise our work. In the worst years of the crisis, from 2008 to 2009, we focused on quality, ensuring that we were certified according to the UNE-EN 15038 and ISO 9001 quality standards. We also developed a translation project management system that rivals the TMSs that dominate the market today.
The key milestones of growth, prosperity, expansions and certificates, as well as having overcome the crisis, were possible only thanks to the human element.
More than one hundred people have passed through the company, above all translators and project managers, with many of them continuing to collaborate with us today as freelancers. We have given thousands and thousands of hours of training, both on an internal level as ongoing training, and also externally, with staff from the company teaching courses in numerous universities, as well as technical translation courses designed by us. Three employees gained their PhDs during their time with us and many others, fresh out of university, earned their stripes at STAR. I keep up with many of them and for me, one of the most satisfying things is to know that almost all those who have passed through STAR Servicios Lingüísticos have come out very well equipped and have managed to find a place in the professional world of multilingual communication.
It has always seemed to me that private companies owe a debt to society, because it is the surrounding environment that makes it possible for the company to carry out its activity. And is there any better way to repay this debt than by training qualified professionals for our sector?
By translating the software and documentation of the 2.7 version of Transit into Catalan in 2005 with a group of UAB students, led by our IT director, we contributed to the linguistic normalisation of Catalan. It was an exemplary project of collaboration between a private company and a university, whereby students received training and preparation for professional life.
Over the years, the people who have passed through the company have created a culture, a culture that is based on values: respect for diversity, equal opportunities, teamwork, customer service and generosity in sharing knowledge. This non-imposed culture has grown, nurtured and implemented by the people with whom I have worked and those with whom I still work. It is a culture also based on traditions such as celebrating all birthdays with brunch in the kitchen, giving a mug with photos of the team to those who leave us, the annual Christmas meal, the Secret Santa and in 2018, climbing the Sant Jeroni peak in Montserrat to pay tribute to the patron saint of the translators association, which due to its success, is something we would like to repeat. For me, this culture is one of the cornerstones of the company and my impression is that each new member of staff that walks through the door adopts it and gratefully makes it their own.
Throughout these years, in addition to managing the company, I have translated, reviewed and managed projects. I have been involved in designing software, in developing a quality management system and have been a terminologist, IT specialist, trainer, teacher, lecturer, blogger, sales rep and support technician. Ah yes, and also an electrician, carpenter, removals person and psychologist. It seems to me that there are few occupations as varied and rewarding as that of being the manager of a small translation company.
What remains is gratitude for this entire experience and all the lessons learned along the way. Thank you to all who have accompanied me and to those who continue to accompany me on this path.