“Allowing onsite multilingual support while eliminating the geographical and communication barriers is exactly what the world needs, and we are placing ourselves in a position to help support that merger of technology and human interaction.” – Kevin McQuire

In March of 2018, KUDO welcomed Chicago based Atlas Language Services to its global family of Partners. In this edition of Meet the Partners, KUDO’s very own Michelle Cartín-Storey, Head of Global Partnerships, & Atlas Language Services CEO, Kevin McQuire, connect virtually to talk about Kevin’s start in conference interpretation, Atlas’ partnership with KUDO, and the future of multilingual conference software. Kevin ends the interview with some pointers for any company seeking a partnership with KUDO.

Michelle Cartín-Storey: Good morning, Kevin. Thank you for taking the time to grab a coffee with me! You are amongst our oldest Partners and one of the best-known language services providers in the USA. Would you mind telling us, where your journey began?  

Kevin McQuire: My journey started in 1995, I was working with an LSC that focused primarily on on-site interpretation.  We had a large client who needed a bilingual event to happen for about 300 people, 150 of which were Spanish speakers. I accepted that challenge and organized a bilingual conference with booths, receivers, etc.  It was that experience which started my love for live events; I love how each event is different.  Over the years, I developed my own style, standards, and team for multilingual events.  Pushing out multiple languages to thousands of attendees in real time is stressful, but it is also a lot of fun!  To be able to make a career out of what you love is truly a blessing.  As a result, over the past 26+ years, I have travelled the world; worked with 14 world Presidents/Prime Ministers; met and provided support for countless celebrities such as Pope Francis, Sean Parker, Ryan Serhant, Kelly Clarkson, Jay Leno, Seal, David Foster, and many more.

MCS: Without a doubt, Atlas has a very impressive trajectory. When did you start using multilingual online event software?

KM: I started researching online applications in early 2014. In 2015, Atlas partnered with an online platform which was still being developed.  However, it was very early in the process and although they advertised it as supporting multilingual events, it didn’t do a great job.  Those early platforms were generally designed for pushing audio to a secondary room as opposed to live interpretation.  Being in the live-events world, which is a small world, I personally knew Fardad Zabetian (CEO, KUDO) and he has always been very knowledgeable and respected within the meetings & events industry.  Knowing that he understood what was needed from a language perspective made a world of difference.  

MCS: According to our records, ATLAS became a KUDO Partner in March 2018. Back then, KUDO required Partners to have their own professional, KUDO certified Studio. I imagine having a studio gives you an upper hand now, with the increasing need for virtual events since 2020?

KM: Atlas Language Services became a KUDO partner and studio long before the remote/virtual craze. KUDO Studios are dedicated centers that allow interpreters to come into a professional environment which is quiet, comfortable, and which allows interpreters to focus on their trade rather than the technical needs of virtual meetings.  With dedicated onsite technical support, professional-grade computers, microphones, headphones, internet, etc. as well as redundant power and internet connections, together this made the early days of online a possibility.  To this day, Atlas still maintains those standards and houses 4 full time dedicated booths for any of our Chicago based interpreters to use, free of charge.

MCS: I had no idea that interpreters could use your booths free of charge. What an amazing way to support the interpretation community! KUDOs to you, Kevin!

While we are on the topic of events. Would you mind telling us about one of your most challenging projects? 

KM: From a digital remote standpoint, pre-COVID Atlas supported hybrid meetings in Las Vegas at the MGM Arena for a technology company.  By utilizing KUDO and supporting the event onsite, we were able to stream language support to the 15,000 attendees onsite while reducing the cost of live interpretation.  This was a great example of how to harness the power, ease, and availability of properly placed Wi-Fi Access Points (WAPs) and KUDO to support a five-language event.  Being post COVID, we expect to see larger international events utilizing this same model which greatly reduces cost (i.e., travel, hotel, per diems) as well as increasing language access, equality, and diversity.

MCS: Indeed, a perfect example of a hybrid event, even before people were talking about hybrid.

To wrap up this interview, I have two final questions. First one is: what impact has working with KUDO had on your day-to-day operations? 

KM: KUDO has a clear indication of who they are, where they are going and how they are going to make a difference!  This is refreshing, as a KUDO partner we can harness the power, knowledge & expertise of technology via KUDO and pair it with our own expertise in conferences & events. Working daily with KUDO allows Atlas to support our clients regardless of the time zone, geographical location or language needs they may have while allowing KUDO to do what they do best: create, manage, and innovate in the world of multilingual meetings & events.

MCS: Last question: What advice would you give anyone looking to become a KUDO partner? 

KM: I have a few suggestions:

  1. Consider this a long-term partnership; this is not something you just jump into.
  2. Spend the time to truly know and understand how conferences and events work and what value you can bring to your clients.
  3. KUDO is a technology platform, so having a solid understanding of technology, how to stream, problem solve, etc. is key. 
  4. Understand HOW interpretation plays a part in an international meeting and help steer your clients and partners properly by being honest, direct, and forthright.
  5. Maintain industry standards and help promote brand recognition, value, and brand integrity.

Those of us who work exclusively in language interpretation/translation know how difficult conference interpretation is, it is not something that just anyone can do. It’s a fun world, but it is not for the faint of heart.

MCS: Thank you very much for your time, Kevin. Always a pleasure talking to you.

ATLAS Language Services

Industries served:

Governmental, Pharmaceutical, Fortune 100, Legal, Restaurant, NPO

Year established:

2000

Office locations:

Chicago, USA

Dream application:

There are so many fun ideas and inventions out there.  I love the idea of a pen that translates, but really who uses pens anymore?

Website:

www.AtlasLS.com

ATLAS

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