As we gear up for the ATA Conference in San Francisco this November,
the PLD blog will be featuring speaker profiles
so that our readers can learn more about

the upcoming sessions and start organizing their schedule.

Interviews conducted by
Elenice Barbosa de Araújo, member of the PLD Leadership Council

“Having One’s Cake and Eating It Too:
Building a Team So Everyone Gets to Taste the Frosting”
Portuguese ―P5
Friday, 11:15am-12:15pm; All Levels; Presented in: English

Offered a plum assignment only to learn it includes a ridiculous number of words and an unreasonable deadline, we sigh, again explaining what’s really involved in producing quality translation. When faced with a seemingly impossible request from the São Paulo Research Foundation, the speaker’s desire to make it work led her to assemble a well-oiled team, wow the client, and secure steady, fascinating work for several Portuguese translators. Hear an independent contractor’s perspective on managing a translation project. Learn how she dealt with identifying team members, setting deadlines, compiling terminology, handling the finances, and delivering the “cake.”

Kim Olson, CT is an ATA-certified Portuguese>English translator. She has undergraduate degrees from Georgetown University and the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and an MBA from the George Washington University. She works as a freelance translator and editor specializing in business, international development, education, and science journalism. For the past three years, she has provided translation to the São Paulo Research Foundation, leading a Portuguese translation team in producing the monthly English version of the Foundation’s online magazine.


What made you choose this theme?
It took me some time to get to a place where I thought I had something to offer by way of experience. Since the fall of 2012, I’ve been leading a team of translators in producing the online English version of a monthly magazine published by the São Paulo Research Foundation. There are a number of moving parts to the process and I’ve found it extremely gratifying to reach a point where workflow is smooth and the virtual project team is in sync. I liken it to this equation: Fascinating material + bright team of colleagues + well-honed project management = happy client who receives a high-quality product to showcase its work. This is a measure of success that I felt was worthy of talking about.

How long have you been working in your area of specialization?
I’ve been a translator for 32 years, but it’s only been in the last 10 years that I have expanded into work in science and technology.

How many times have you presented at an ATA Conference?
This is my first presentation at an ATA Conference, although I was part of a panel that talked about preparing for the Portuguese-to-English Certification Exam at the PLD Annual Meeting in 2011.

How will the audience profit from your session?
I think the take-away is that success can be found in many places. A challenging request (in this case, regarding deadlines and volume) might just set you on a path to something fun and rewarding. Keep an open mind. Bounce ideas off of colleagues and engage with them. There are ways of making things happen (taking that plum assignment) even though, at first, options appear limited.

What did you want to be as a child?
I was a big history buff. Summer vacations often involved visiting historical destinations where I loved touring the buildings and listening to the costumed guides. I wanted to bring history to life as they did.

What was your first career choice?
Once I discovered my love of languages, I knew I wanted to do something with them but at that point, all I knew other than possibly teaching foreign languages would be working at the United Nations.

What is your favorite book/movie?
My all-time favorite is “Les Uns et les Autres.” It features the glorious music of Ravel’s Bolero and tells the story of how the lives of various musicians and dancers intertwined before World War II, the Holocaust, and beyond.

What is your favorite hobby?
I’m an avid reader, thus I chose a “favorite movie” because it’s so hard to pick just one book! One of my best recent reads is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.

What/Who inspires you in the profession?
I’m inspired by the work of the translators on this project, which includes some of my longtime colleagues. I’m in awe of their knowledge and expertise and marvel at the beauty of their writing. I’m also inspired by those I meet at the various conferences and meetings who are so good at articulating the passion that surrounds this wonderful work.



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