We talked to Frédéric Ibanez of Alphatrad UK on how to meet requirements in terms of translation or linguistic services and provide quality services and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Frédéric Ibanez: Considering the current situation, not so bad. Fortunately, none of us is affected by the disease, and we hope it will continue. We are very much looking forward to the new year and hope that everything will be better.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Alphatrad UK.
Frédéric Ibanez: Company founder Frédéric Ibanez laid the foundation stone for Optilingua in France in 1981. At that time, there was no internet, so we did everything by post. It was a long way back then. At some point, there were fax machines. That was the first small revolution in our industry because it sped up the processes enormously.
Other branches gradually followed the foundation in France until finally, we began the holding company Optilingua International. The subsidiaries Alphatrad, Traducta, and ViaVerbia, are now united under its roof.
ALHPATRAD UK, for example, is one of a total of twelve branches of the holding company in Europe.
How does Alphatrad UK innovate?
Frédéric Ibanez: Year after year, there are innovations, and the industry is becoming more and more digital. Neural translations have received a lot of requests recently. So have new forms of interpreting such as by telephone or video. We are continually adapting to market developments to remain competitive.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Frédéric Ibanez: As in many sectors, turnover has declined somewhat. Although medical translation, demand, and volume of work have increased, a lot of demand for translations in the Covid-19 area has arisen. However, with our large pool of translators, we can quickly meet the demand.
There has also been an increase in the demand for virtual international meetings, where interpreters’ need has arisen. Many of the face-to-face interpreters have switched to online interpreting, so we have been able to cover that area quite well.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Frédéric Ibanez: Fortunately, we did not have to make any difficult decisions. In such times of crisis, it is essential to make decisions quickly to counteract the trend. This way, all our employees could continue to work, and no one faced dismissal.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Frédéric Ibanez: I have been doing meditation regularly for many years and recommend it to everyone. For me, it is the perfect remedy for stress and challenging times.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Frédéric Ibanez: Competition is fierce. It is essential to monitor the market continually and adapt. Innovations are still an important point to keep an eye on. We plan to enter new markets and open more branches.
The ‘competition’ from automatic translation services such as Google Translate does not scare us. Although these services are getting better and better, they can only be used for straightforward texts when it is only a matter of translating information. It will be a long time before these systems can replace humans – if that happens at all.