Your blogger, Jonathan Goldberg (himself a professional translator), interviewed Paula Dieli.
Paula Dieli is a French to English translator with an M.A. in Translation from Kent State University and a B.A. in Computer Science and French from the State University of New York at Potsdam. She has extensive experience in the software industry, in numerous software engineering and management roles, and has lived and worked in France. She is an active member of the American Translators Association and is President of the Northern California Translators Association. For more about Paula’s professional services, see: http://www.dieliconsulting.com.
Jonathan: Congratulations on your recent election to President of the Northern California Translators Association (NCTA). How did go from being a freelance translator to this public-facing role?
Paula : Thanks Jonathan. I joined the NCTA as soon as I began freelancing. I realized the importance of getting out of the house and networking and it seemed like a vibrant organization. At my first meeting, I attended the new member orientation, met many new faces and was made to feel very welcome. The then president made an appeal for volunteers so I stepped up. I knew it would be a good way to meet fellow translators and I wanted to contribute to the industry. After a year of volunteering, I was asked to join the board, and here I am 5 years later! Thankfully I’m part of a great team of volunteer board members so it makes my role that much easier.
Jonathan: How important are volunteers for an organization like the NCTA?
Paula : They’re everything! When you arrive at a general meeting for the NCTA, you realize that volunteers were needed for notification to members, room reservation, speaker selection, new member orientation, articles and photography for our Translorial (translorial.com) newsletter, refreshments etc. For workshops and other events, there’s a similar list of tasks. The board members do a lot of work but need the support of the membership to continue to function. If each member helps out a little bit, it makes a big difference overall.
Jonathan: I understand your background is in the software industry. How did you get started in the translation field?
Paula : I have family in France and began learning French when I was five years old. I spent a year in college studying in Tours. I began my career in software in the Silicon Valley and worked there for several years. I was offered a job at a software company in Paris in the 1990s and jumped at the chance. After relocating back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I was taking a translation class to keep up my French language skills and discovered I loved translation so I took a break from the software industry to study translation at Kent State. I’ve been freelancing part-time ever since.
Jonathan: As you take the helm at the NCTA, what will the focus be for you and your fellow board members?
Paula : Our focus will be on finding ways to better engage our membership and developing resources and workshops to benefit our complete membership. That includes freelancers as well as corporate members, translators as well as interpreters. With our proximity to the Silicon Valley, we’re able to offer our members workshops on the very latest technology. And since we’re located in a state that has the most comprehensive medical interpretation laws in the country, we make sure to offer training that’s specifically focused in that area. We have partnerships with a number of local organizations such as the Center for the Art of Translation and the International Medical Interpreters Association and we have close ties with our neighboring associations/chapters so we can cross-promote activities to a broader membership. It’s going to be an exciting time!