I suppose I’ve always been kind of a translator.
It began with my dad: he was from Hungary and he had a very thick accent. So thick, in fact, that when he coached my high school soccer team, the other girls had trouble understanding him. So, after noticing the confused looks on their faces, I’d step in and explain what he was trying to say. Dad had his own special way of speaking English, sometimes even making up words that became the ones we’d use as a family. He’d always say, “Ah, close enough!”.
As an adult, I worked in Information Technology, a place where you’ll find professionals from a variety of different countries. Here as well, I seemed to have a natural affinity for understanding people with different accents. I often found myself effortlessly falling into the translator and elaborator role. Plus, I enjoyed learning about the different cultures and customs, and still have some dear friends from those years.
It’s worth noting, too, that when I started in IT, it was back when there were very few women in high tech. In many ways, that gave me a firsthand sense of what it feels like to be an outsider in a “foreign culture.”
My role as translator continued through most of my career. I spent about half of my 28-years in IT as a hands-on techie. The rest was doing Business Analysis and Project Management. I was often in the position of bridging communications between the Business and Technical folks. (Yes, that requires translation as well.)
Eventually, and this may be in part due to my being an eldest child, I found myself acting more and more as a coach. I’ve always been someone others come to for advice, mentoring, and guidance, and at some point, I realized how much I enjoyed this role. So in 2008, I went off on my own to start a business doing just that.
Today, I’m a Business Coach, and, using my past experiences as “translator,” I specialize in helping foreign-born professionals fit in, so they can succeed here in U.S. companies.