#GALAChampion: Oleksandr Bondarenko
In this series of interviews, GALA members share their insights on the pursuit of globalization & localization brilliance.
Oleksandr Bondarenko, Chief Executive Officer at Translatel
Editor’s note: this interview was recorded on December 21st, 2021, prior to the invasion of Ukraine.
What’s in a Job Title
I've been working as a CEO of a translation and localization company as well as an associate professor of a translation department for over 20 years.
Starting Out in Localization
It has been a long journey. I completed my degree in education and started working as a teacher. I started my career as a researcher and completed my PhD in Contrastive Studies at the same time. Since then, I have explored the translation and localization industry b from different angles: as a translator, a reviewer, a project manager, a HR specialist, a trainer... Now I try my hand as a machine translation developer and I’m happy that new challenges are waiting ahead.
Where GALA Fits In
I really believe that joining GALA helped me engage all my personal qualities and intellectual skills: from research and education to management. My interpersonal communication skills, including self-expression and listening skills as well as understanding the business agenda, made me quite productive: I participated in many ALA panel discussions (in 2018, 2019, 2020) and also co-organized and moderated a series of Global Talent SIG monthly events. I am particularly excited about the Rising Star Scholarship as a way of promoting university partnerships with industry and raising the profile of the translation and localization sector. As part of the GALA community, I welcome the initiative of free academic membership for educational institutions as well as SIG groups that attract more and more people.
As both a CEO of a translation company and a university lecturer, I strive to create opportunities for students and recent graduates. I have managed different education initiatives that triggered mass changes at national and multinational level: CAT for Grad (implementing translation technologies in the curricula of 20 Ukrainian institutions including trainers’ training and international assessment of students’ achievements), TranslAcademy (CPD webinars), Translation Summer School, and much more.
I think the advice of being engaged in active networking has been the main booster in my career. I believe professional gatherings are an amazing way of keeping up to date, picking relevant information and developing great discussions with both colleagues and clients.
Networking Tips & Techniques
Relax and be you. I am very curious and love to question everything when given the opportunity and like to challenge the status quo. The childish sense of curiosity may fade with time, but in my case curiosity played a crucial role in my career. In fact, the things I created or discovered in my life were mainly due to curiosity. Questions push boundaries to become better.
What I Learned during the Last Year...
Once online, you're global, but to build and maintain deeper relationships you still need to shake hands (and drink some beer, why not?).
I have the privilege of being inspired by Millennials participating in my educational projects. They make me focus more on meaningful work that contributes to my life. "Keep up or be left behind" is also a good approach.
My Brilliant Second Career
If I didn't work in the language industry (and money wasn't a factor)? Well, I come from a family of military surgeons and always valued knowing about real things and natural processes at runtime. Examining patients, diagnosing and treating diseases, providing medication, and performing surgery - it's all about empathy and common sense combined with professional skills - abilities I acquired as a CEO at translation and localization industry.
Life Beyond Localization
I was engaged in bartering at the beginning of my translation career due to hyperinflation in the late USSR. I got paid with my first laptop for having run my week's translation marathon. Despite the difficulties, with no CAT tools, no industry standards, I successfully delivered the project, and since then I have been involved in the industry.