Photo courtsey of GALA
I recently attended the 2016 conference of the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) in New York City. GALA is a nonprofit membership organization that advocates for the language sector by, in its own words, "creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology."
As I live in Australia, attending the GALA conference required a large commitment of both time and money, including 24+ hours of travel and the cost of airline tickets, transportation to and from the airport, and lodging (not to mention time away from the office). Yet I was not the only long-distance traveler there; in addition to encountering other Australians, I met people from Argentina, Ukraine, Estonia, Canada, Poland, France, Italy, Geneva, and of course the USA.
Many of those I met were previous GALA conference attendees, which meant they had made this costly journey more than once.
Why? The answer can only be that they are reaping a healthy return on their investment. And while it's still too early for me to know whether the contacts I made at GALA 2016 will result in increased sales, my own ROI has already arrived in the form of the knowledge and experiences I acquired from attending seminars, meeting new people, visiting New York, and participating in the conference festivities.
As I continue to review my notes from the conference, I look forward to sharing with you the knowledge I gained from the seminars I attended, which covered topics such as the new interpreting platforms currently available, developments in machine translation, different approaches to pricing, website optimization for translators, and many more.
Renato Beninatto, a 30-year veteran of the language services industry and the current vice president of New Business Development and Marketing Communications at Moravia Worldwide, said it well: "If I can learn just one thing from attending a conference, I believe it was well worth it. And I have learned many things from the GALA conference."
The conference began with a keynote address by Paven Arora, director of content at IMB Watson. (You may already be familiar with IBM Watson; if not, here is a link.) Arora drew our attention to the explosion of new content on the Internet, pointing out that Internet content doubles every 23 days. With 20,000 new translators entering the industry each year, there is still an immense shortage of translators needed to keep up with the current demand and projected future growth.
"We are building tools to meet the demand – a demand that is growing exponentially," said Arora. He went on to add that, even with these new tools, "We will never be able to replace humans. We are trying to commoditize the data already out there and to deliver proactively versus reactively."
Arora also suggested that the best way to position oneself in this time of massive growth is to cultivate an area of expertise. You might have an inclination toward medical or legal translation, or perhaps conference interpreting is your specialty. Take stock of your interests and abilities, and work toward becoming a specialist in the area that interests you.
And as you tap into your passion and find your niche, you must also learn to utilize the latest technology in order to become more efficient in your area of expertise. This truly is an exciting time for the translation industry; if you can both hone your skills and embrace the latest technology, you will thrive in the ever-evolving online landscape.
An experience like no other
Here's a thought I'd like to leave with you: every conference participant's experience and takeaways differed from those of each and every other person who attended GALA 2016. This is because we all networked with different people and attended different sessions.
For instance, I attended some sessions that many participants didn't due to unavoidable conflicts in the packed conference schedule. I chose to travel around the globe to attend this particular industry conference, but you don't have to! You may find a conference in your own city or just a short car ride away. And it doesn't have to be one of the big conferences; in fact, small local conferences often yield more opportunities, such as being able to network with local clients and future collaborating partners.
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating: attending an industry conference is well worth the cost. I encourage you to take out your calendar now and commit to attending at least one conference this year – and more if you are able. To help you with your search, we've put together a list of translation conferences around the world. Click here to see the calendar of events/conference page on the Translation Journal.
Take out your calendar and make plans to attend your next industry conference today. I hope to see you there!
Written by Karen Hodgson, the editor of Translation Journal, a publication focused on the translation and interpreting profession. Since its inception in 1997, the journal has published the latest news and resources for the translation and interpreting sector, with regular contributions from leading academics and industry professionals. Karen is also CEO of Translationz and Interpreter with headquarters in Australia and offices in USA.