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Ratchadapisek, Bangkok, Thailand

From debt collector, to stand-up comedian, teacher to castaway…

Posted 12 April 2017

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…and now our very own unique Business Development Manager for Localisation Services

Yes, we’re describing David Quinn, a firm favourite in the ALM archives of staff past and present. He is soon to retire to fulfil some of his lifelong dreams. David has brought us so many laughs and good fun times, as well as being a true advocate for our business, reflected in his sales and achievements, we wanted to share some of these with our valued clients:

  • David, you have had more jobs than Birmingham airport has daily flights in your lifetime. So what made you stay with ALM for the longest period of continuous employment in your entire career?

Well to be fair, I did start working when Birmingham International was still launching Zeppelins, so I’ve had plenty opportunity to move around…usually every 2 years  – or less if I could sense Interpol getting close. But I’ve been here for oooh in excess of 5 years, or a lifetime in hamster years as I like to think of it. I’ve stayed because it’s a very good company to work for. We offer very good translation and localisation services at a competitive price, with dedicated staff doing their very best to meet the customer’s expectations. In some translation agencies I’ve worked in, I’ve spent half my time apologising for shoddy work. There’s nothing more likely to get me on my bike than that.

  • We first met up at another agency quite a few years ago. When that agency closed its doors, we didn’t hear from you for many years and then we had a bizarre email about you and your wife being shipwrecked in a storm at sea,  and in the same email saying that you were looking for opportunities. We thought you’d lost the plot, but it turned out to be true. Can you describe a bit about that watery experience?

Arghhh me hearties…indeed. The wife and I were crossing the Atlantic on our thirty foot yacht….well it was a Bank Holiday weekend and Ikea was closed so why not? Anyway we hit the seas from the tail end of a hurricane and it brought the mast down. There’s nothing like having to throw your rigging overboard, bobbing around in mountainous seas and knowing you don’t have enough diesel to reach dry land to make you think …hmmm ….a sales-based office job…that sounds really attractive.

  • Along with many other talents, you speak fluent Spanish. What has learning a language to such a high degree taught you about the importance of translation services?

Well a couple of things. Firstly that fluency in a language doesn’t make you a translator. As you know I have a degree in Spanish, lived there for over 6 years and spend time in my house over there about 5 times a year – but I still can’t translate the specialist work we carry out. As well as Mother Tongue Fluency, you need Subject Matter Expertise. So our 2000 + translators  – as well the having language skills  – need to fully understand the industry they are working in. Generally, linguists like me don’t have that experience. The other advantage it has given me is the understanding of how language works –  which most non-linguists don’t get. I’m not showing off –  I have no understanding of how software works (it’s magic isn’t it?) or how to bake a strawberry sponge (despite my perpetually soggy bottom –  it’s an age thing) – we’re all experts in different fields. But I do understand the mechanics of language, which is why I know that Machine Translations – in their current form – cannot replicate human forms of communication.

And one thing that all of our clients have in common, is that all of their end customers are humans.

  • Who will you miss most in the ALM team?

Well, that would have to be Lisa and Rachel, of course. That goes without saying. They are the two most amazing women (apart from my wife) I’ve ever met. I will miss them both.  Can I get my bonus now please?

  • How have you seen our company develop and change in the 5 years that you have been here?

Well we’ve grown in terms of turnover by about 25% and in terms of staff by 30% so we are generally a bigger organisation. We’ve expanded our customer base across Europe and into the US and Canada whilst growing our local customer base in the West Midlands and UK in general. We have managed this by a very clever strategy of taking about 50% of our work from the handful of global language service providers and 50% from private clients. This has meant that we have had to extend our technological reach and quality assurance processes to match those demanded by the world’s largest companies – and then been able to pass that experience directly on to our private clients. Given that the growth has been pretty much evenly split, we must be doing something right.

  • What do you envisage for the future of ALM Translations after your departure?

It’s all over really…you might as well pull down the shutters and hang out the “For Sale sign”. I’m joking of course. The company was on upward trajectory before I joined and it will carry on in that vein long after I’m gone. We offer so much more in terms of services now beyond standard translation and localisation services – the technical solutions such as building Machine Translation engines, the keyword research for multilingual SEO, the “flavouring” of English for the US, Canadian, Australian and South African markets –  all of these are growth services which will be very much in demand in the coming years. The government’s target to the DIT is to get exports up to 20 Billion by 2020 and, as we all know, you have to talk to customers in their own language if we want to compete on a global stage. Given that, I’m with Yazz and the Plastic Population …”the only way is…”

  • Craig Howell will be following your footsteps in the role of BDM. Do you have any advice for Craig?

Yes…be afraid…be very afraid! Not at all. Craig doesn’t need any advice from me. He’s worked in the localisation industry for years and in a sales environment for even longer. He knows what the customer need is – fundamentally, honesty and guidance – and he has spent years offering them just that. Plus, with Craig’s expertise in the e-learning sector, I think we can be pretty sure ALM’s going to be just tickety-boo.

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