Interview with Yelena McCafferty
Updated: Nov 18
Yelena McCafferty, Talk Russian’s Translation Manager, shares her views about the language industry, its rewards and challenges as well as aspirations for the future.
– When did you decide to establish the business and why?
We set up Talk Russian in 2001 as a specialist Russian translation company. This was when I moved to the UK from Russia where I had worked as an English teacher and university lecturer. As a qualified linguist I wanted to continue my language career so I set up a translation and interpreting business. The volume of trade between the UK and Russia at the time was not so significant as it is now, but there has always been a lot of connection with Russia and in the first few years of the business we got some great clients, including ITN, Shell, Sotheby’s.
– What services does Talk Russian offer?
Talk Russian is a niche business as we handle translations and interpreting only between Russian and English. Although our services are focused on Russian only, our operations are not limited to the UK only. We have customers in the USA, many countries in Europe as well as in Russia itself. London has become a popular destination for Russian visitors who don’t come just as tourists but to discuss business too. While the general proportion of Russians with English language skills is growing every year, a few still prefer to have a professional interpreter at hand during important negotiations. Face-to-face interpreting and interpreting over the phone and Skype form just one of our services.
Another service we provide is written translation and this covers absolutely all subject matters: from finance and marketing to legal and technical. I work with experienced colleagues who specialise in different subject areas and together we have built up a great working team. One of the products we offer within translation is certification when we can certify the translation as true and accurate. This is not required all the time and mainly applies to personal documents or company registration paperwork to be submitted to various authorities in the UK and overseas.
Talk Russian does not currently offer language training.
– What do you enjoy most in your work?
I love the variety of projects we get. Although working in the translation business can feel a little isolated at times, the unpredictability of things that land on your desk or in your inbox more than makes up for it. The translation process is incredibly interesting, stimulating and educating as you learn new things all the time. I do interpreting too, so I do leave the office, meet new people, help them communicate and it’s immensely rewarding.
– What has been your biggest challenge in day-to-day work?
More and more often customers request urgent translations which needed to be done “yesterday”. Unfortunately, this is not always physically possible and to expect a 12,000 word document translated within 24 hours would be totally unrealistic. I always tell clients whether a fast turnaround is possible depending on each specific project, and sometimes the client simply doesn’t have the luxury of time. Professional translations are not done by machines so it’s important to allow for that time needed to complete the translation.
– What does the future hold?
We look to continue building strong relationships with our existing and new clients and providing that personal service they expect. Our customer base includes companies and private individuals in the UK and beyond and we look forward to going hand in hand with modern technology, keeping the finger on our pulse about how our products and services can be enhanced in the future.