Liz Robertson, co-founder of Robertson Languages, has been honoured with a prestigious lifetime achievement award at the Association of Translation Companies’ (ATC) 2017 Language Industry Summit Awards. Designed to recognise and celebrate success in the language services industry, the annual awards covering a range of categories were handed out during at gala dinner at the ATC’s 2017 Language Industry Summit in London. Liz received the Eichner Distinguished Service Award, recognising a lifetime’s contribution to the language industry. Her fellow director at RLI, Bob, picked up the award on her behalf. Liz’s influential work in the industry has included being Chair of the ATC’s National Council from 2006-2010 and being a former President of the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies. A founding member of the international group which developed the international standard for translations, she currently participates in the on-going development of ISO standards for the translation industry. She’s an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, awarded for her work on translation standards. Liz, whose special interests are in translation, inter-cultural issues, quality standards in the translation industry, process improvement and problem solving, co-founded Robertson Languages in 1989. The company provides language training, interpreting, localisation and content management services to business and organisations throughout the world.
At Robertson Languages we remember two opportunities that political events gave us, back in 1989: the removal of customs barriers between EU countries and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both events prompted our clients to expand into new countries (Western Europe in the first instance and Eastern Europe in the second). Although BREXIT seems a distancing from these two markets which are now so important to the UK, it may be a spur to seek new business in other parts of the world and turn out to be another opportunity as big as the other two.
For UK businesses, the obvious markets outside the EU are the US, Commonwealth countries and rich economies such as the Arab world, China, the Pacific Rim and South America. Over the last few weeks we have seen evidence that some of our customers are already planning expansion in these areas. We have begun large translation projects into Arabic, Chinese, South American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.
A second opportunity for UK companies is, ironically, the chance to enhance relationships with EU customers by demonstrating that you are not abandoning them (as some of your competitors might). By approaching even delicate matters like the sudden and dramatic fall in value of the pound in the right manner it is possible use the occasion to develop mutual understanding. At some point you will need to negotiate new arrangements as BREXIT will have rendered the current ones obsolete.
There are opportunities, but it would be foolish to pretend that there are not challenges for UK businesses, one of the largest of which must be language and culture. The biggest prizes will probably be in China, ASEA and South America where English is not well spoken. UK business who wish to keep and nurture their hard-won customers in the EU may find that they have a PR challenge to demonstrate that they are still the reliable partner they were before BREXIT. Both challenges require winning hearts and minds which is done by adopting the language of your customers rather than by forcing English upon them.
As far as Robertson Languages is concerned, it is quite possible that BREXIT will turn out to be a great opportunity as we help our customers to develop relationships with old and new clients from all over the world, not just Europe. With locations in Korea, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany and London we are not just a European company but a genuinely global player, well placed to help our clients do business in any part of the world.
For information about how Robertson Languages can help you find and keep clients throughout the world, contact email@example.com.