These are exciting times at Iconic! Our continued growth in the Legal, Life Sciences, and IT sectors means that we are further expanding our team. We’d like to introduce you to our new Global Program Manager, Carla Parra Escartín. Carla’s scientific background is a perfect fit for her role in which she will liaise between our customers and our scientific team. She hails from Spain, and currently joins us remotely from her new home in Dublin. Carla will be joining our Dublin team, when we all eventually get back to the office.
We recently chatted with Carla to learn more about her and her new role at Iconic.
Hi Carla, welcome to Iconic! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My background is in translation and computational linguistics. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a translator. But then I discovered computational linguistics, and became fascinated with automated ways of processing languages and Natural Language Processing (NLP) applications. I worked as a professional translator for a number of years. During this time, I was always thinking about ways in which computational linguistics could be applied. Machine Translation (MT) was a natural path to pursue, as it allowed me to combine my passion for languages and translation with the computational angle. I have moved quite a bit throughout my career: following time spent in my hometown of Zaragoza and also Barcelona, I moved to Norway, where I did my PhD. I then worked in Spain, Ireland and Portugal before finally settling (again) in Ireland! Dublin is where I now call home.
Describe your role of Global Program Manager at Iconic:
My role implies being the bridge between internal teams and our clients and ensuring that our projects are delivered as seamlessly as possible. It is both internal and external facing. Besides coordinating projects and setting up processes to help us be more efficient, I will also engage with our clients to understand their needs and set up projects that will meet their expectations leveraging our Machine Translation and Natural Language Processing expertise. Internally, I liaise with different stakeholders to understand how we can improve and implement new processes and bring our bespoke MT solutions to the next level.
What attracted you to Iconic?
I knew about Iconic from my experience in Academia, and particularly in Machine Translation research. I had seen our CEO, John Tinsley, presenting at conferences and always was impressed by the way Iconic combined research with real-world applications. MT is challenging, and having high quality, domain specific engines is not a trivial task. Iconic is renowned for precisely this. I had also been following Iconic for a while, both in social media and the blog. I love applied research, and Iconic is a company where it seemed that was part of the DNA. Now that I’m in, I can confirm what I had observed!
Starting your career as a translator, followed by receiving a PhD in Computational Linguistics certainly gives you a well rounded perspective in this field. How do you see this as being an advantage?
I think this is precisely my skill: I am able to build a bridge between these two worlds. I am not an engineer, but I have worked and researched in MT and NLP long enough to be able to engage with engineers and “translate” a language-related challenge to a computational one. And conversely, I also know what are the opportunities, limitations or challenges we may have when processing language with machines. My background also gives me the linguistic sensibility to understand the concerns that a customer may have regarding Machine Translation, and the NLP sensibility to know when a process can be automated or improved using additional NLP or MT solutions. In a way, I am a “translator” across disciplines and roles.
What is your favorite aspect about being in the localisation industry?
I think this is exactly the industry I belong to. It allows me to combine my passion for languages with the geekier side of me. It combines translation with technical solutions and challenges, and I love brainstorming about ways of overcoming those challenges and seeing the solutions materialized into successful projects.
What are your hopes for our industry?
I guess two things come to my mind. On the one hand, thinking of the translators that use technologies, I hope that more and more Machine Translation and other NLP applications will facilitate their work and help them not only be more productive, but also focus on those areas of their work that are more rewarding and appealing. On the other hand, with translation needs growing globally by the minute, I hope Machine Translation will keep evolving as it has been and contributing towards global communication and global understanding at even greater scales.
What are your hobbies, interests and passions?
I love discovering new places and cultures, so traveling would be on the top of my list. That’s what motivated me to leave Spain and live abroad and I think it has also shaped massively who I am today. And something I do when traveling is knit a lot! My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was a kid, but I only picked it back up when I was in the last stages of my PhD, right after a road trip in Iceland. I came back determined to knit an Icelandic sweater for myself, but little did I know what that meant! Nowadays I even knit at conferences, as it helps me to keep my hands busy and focused on what I am listening to! Other than that, I love cooking and I really enjoy bike riding. I cannot wait to start my daily bike commute to the office!
Any words of wisdom that you’d like to share?
I wouldn’t say these are words of wisdom, and I wouldn’t say I am always successful at it, but something that relates to my work a lot is effective communication, and it starts by really understanding your interlocutor and the message you want to convey. Understand to be understood. It is obvious, but sometimes it is harder than it seems because we humans tend to take things for granted. I am still learning to apply it, but I try to keep it always in the back of my mind.