On the second edition of our “Meet the Partners” Blog, Michelle Cartín-Storey, Global Channel Manager at KUDO, connects to a KUDO session, mulled wine in hand, and asks a Partner all she ever wanted to know.
On this edition, Michelle sat with Eric Bauwelinck, author and speaker, seasoned interpreter and owner of KUDO partner Mastervoice, in Temse, Belgium.
Hi Eric. Thank you for taking the time to seat with me today.
To start, I would like to know: When did your journey into the world of interpretation start?
My journey in conference interpretation began after graduating as a conference interpreter in 1990. I was inspired by my teachers who worked as conference interpreters for NATO, the UN and the European Commission. They encouraged me to become a conference interpreter. I founded Mastervoice in 1998 after working as a freelance interpreter for large corporations and international institutions for more than eight years. During this time, I already provided support for large events with audiovisual support and interpreter teams for international conference and meeting planners. This was the start of my journey.
I know you became a KUDO Partner earlier this year, but, if I’m not mistaken, you weren´t new to multilingual online event software, right?
Back in 2008, I patented innovative language applications for remote simultaneous interpretation and online language coaching. My ambition was to link the expertise of professional interpreters with advanced language technology solutions in the cloud, 12 years before the current pandemic.
That is a fascinating story…! What happened after?
Eight years later, in 2016, I wrote and published an award-winning book on the transformation from onsite to online interpreting: “Voices from Above, A Journey from Onsite to Online Interpreting”; for which I received an award from New York Times best-selling author Raymond Aaron for my vision on the future of conference interpreting. Remote interpreting was something for the early believers who were shouting in the wilderness in those days.
So, the impact of multilingual online software in your life, for the last 12 years, has been tremendous. What makes you so interested in this topic?
Interactive meetings require human interpreting to reproduce the authentic messages and content in every detail with a faithful and authentic interpretation of the original speakers. Video remote interpreting unlocks the global capacity of qualified conference interpreters, speakers and delegates from remote workplaces, hubs, studios, or connected rooms to connect to large audiences worldwide.
With that said, what do you think are the challenges and opportunities of RSI?
One of the main challenges in meeting current demands in online meetings is the adoption rate by interpreters and participants. Remote interpreting was not widely accepted before the health crisis. It required an educational effort and lots of goodwill from customers and interpreters. Speaking and interpreting from home with own devices on private networks is currently one of the biggest challenges.
On a positive note, remote interpreting creates new business opportunities for all stakeholders in the interpreting market, i.e., interpreters, consultants, audiovisual suppliers, technology providers and meeting planners. It also paves the way for international collaboration networks in a new business context.
I couldn’t agree more. I believe RSI and, overall, online & hybrid events, are here to stay. These are exciting times to be part of the KUDO network, lots of opportunities out there.
If you look back at this year working as a KUDO Partner, what would you say is your favourite part of it?
Our most rewarding experience was that we got most of our former onsite customers back on board with remote interpreting solutions. This was a very challenging process. We had to meet data security and data privacy requirements before we could support meetings with remote simultaneous interpreting.
Getting participants and interpreters on board requires training sessions, dry runs, and onboarding sessions before the live event with audiovisual support. We have seen a sharp rise in the need for support and service following the introduction of remote simultaneous interpreting. Clients and interpreters must be aware of the importance of preparation in terms of the connectivity of private networks and headsets ahead of any meeting. Audio quality is a key requirement in remote simultaneous interpreting, and it has become a shared responsibility between interpreters, technicians, and meeting organisers.
What kind of role do you see multilingual conference software playing in the future for companies such as yours? Can you imagine how your working life may look several years down the line?
I am confident that multilingual online videoconferences are here to stay. Mastervoice is well positioned to offer remote interpreting solutions in conformity with specific requirements of multilingual meetings with added-value meeting services such as meeting transcripts, recording, streaming, and broadcasting.
Building trust and confidence with reliable language technology solutions is an asset for our corporate and institutional clients. Mastervoice will continue to maintain this laser focus in the years ahead.
Thank you very much, Erik.
To wrap this interview, I would like to know: If you could give 3 tips to a company looking to become a KUDO Partner, what would they be?
First of all, be aware of the new dynamics and challenges of remote simultaneous interpreting in terms of connectivity, preparation, and self-testing ahead of each meeting. Not once-only, but for every meeting.
Secondly, make sure you have skilled human resources to support your clients before and during each meeting. Technical support is a must-have in remote interpreting for international meeting planners.
Last but not least, promote remote simultaneous interpreting as a professional expertise, not just as an added service for video remote interpreting. More than ever, multilingual meetings require skilled conference interpreters and dedicated support operators. They still make a whole world of difference.
Thanks again, Erik. A pleasure talking to you, as per usual.
Thank you, Michelle.
Mastervoice at a glance
Corporate companies, multinationals, international associations, global meeting planners
Head Office in Temse, Belgium, with partnerships in the US, the European Union, China, and Japan.
A global collaboration platform for all language and technology providers in the meeting industry based on human and artificial intelligence to buy, sell, and hire professional meeting services online.