Developing our work ethic!
Year 2016 saw big growth in MD Online- we were getting more clients and more interesting ones! Besides nobody could be more demanding and stressful than our very first client, who was still with us but gradually coming down in proportion to 1/3 of total turnover. We managed to secure contracts with one of the Brussels lobbying agencies, Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw or Malbork Teutonic Castle where we learned about recluses. However, we learned not only about ladies who had been buried alive in the walls, but important lessons about recruitment and who is, and who isn’t, an ideal candidate to work with us.
The work ethos for MD Online was born that year. Even though our team was growing we realized it is not necessarily coming to a physical “office” that is important, but rather people who are devoted, highly educated, efficient, and able to work anywhere with Internet access. With a growing team however we needed personal meetings too. It was at this first meeting that we developed the idea of growing our online team with regular annual or semi-annual retreats, for a few days, where we can get to know how we work together, solve the problems and brainstorm new ideas. The first team meeting was in Szymbark- and it was real fun! We had all our core team there; Agata (our first employee) – responsible for tenders and back office support, Tomek – responsible for all dealings with our very first major client, and Magda (who had recently joined the team) – an English linguistic in the process of her PhD.
Few memories from Magda
When I submitted my CV to MD Online, I was in the process of writing my PhD (generally speaking, it was about the manner of translating a book, a comic book and a computer game). I wanted to become financially independent and in my first year of PhD getting a job was the only option. 😉 My previous bosses didn’t recognise that I was more occupied than we agreed at the beginning, which meant that I had truly little time for scientific activities. I started thinking about changing jobs and MD Online’s offer caught my eye. After talking to Dorota, I was extremely interested in the potential job – I could develop further in an intercultural and industry-related environment, and there were no objections to my further studies. I heard words of encouragement and motivation, which was a positive change! I was also fascinated by the idea of working in a virtual office, which turned out to be perfect for a nerdy introvert. In the summer, I can go out into the woods with my laptop and work on quotes with my German Shepherd sleeping at my feet. In winter, I work from my home office and its decor obviously shows my literary and gaming preferences.
At work, I met Agata, who dealt with selected special clients, and Tomek, who worked in a position parallel to mine. When I came back from the university, I changed into my official work tracksuit and took over project management from Tomek. I choose to believe that I learnt to do it quickly 😀 Back then, we had such a number of clients and orders that one person could both deal with the customer and at the same time process the order itself. In those first months, I met many very friendly translators from all over the world, and these international contacts continue to make me happy to this day. Once, I sent a package to one of our DE translators with some German books from the 18th century, she was interested in them and I was not able to read their very distinctive font. I added some albums in German about my region and it turned out that her grandmother was born a few villages away! From our Greek translator I got some recipes for the local halva and kebab, so I consider the acquaintance very… tasty😊 Other type of work would not allow me to meet such interesting and inspiring people without leaving home. I know there are crazy people who like leaving their homes, but I really like my out-of-the-way humble abode.
Over time, the company grew, customers trusted us more and more and we had to move towards fresh solutions to stay on a steady course and keep up the good work. There was a lot to do, e.g., one of the clients required an immediate response or the order went elsewhere. The pace could be frantic, so the division into scientific and business personnel was a natural step. This gave Tomek and me a bit of a breather. Then another Agata appeared, who now I think runs her own business as a sworn translator, so we could regain our strength. There was time to calmly familiarize ourselves with CAT tools and customer management systems. But it did not last long, the projects began to flow in a wider stream and we had to specialise even more. Since I took over the front office, i.e., day-to- day contact with the client, I no longer deal with the assignment of translations. I sometimes miss the funny situations with translators, but clients can be very funny, too! One of the PMs of the partner company gets in touch from time to time to exchange observations regarding the Witcher, Tolkien and other fantasy universes. Yet another PM often replies to my questions with images, e.g., she sends a gif of a traffic light when I ask if we have a “green light“ for this project.
At the end of that year it became obvious that we need to separate the scientific proofreading arm of our business from translations. The two businesses were too different in nature- the translation side of the business dealt with large volumes or multi-language translations, usually with a fast turnaround times and science which was exclusively in English and carried out by PhD experts, where extreme attention to detail and quality was important above turnaround times. That year (2016) marked the official registration of eCORRECTOR Ltd in the UK, our scientific proofreading and editing company. Now it was time was to recruit a team for eCORRECTOR – this came in 2017. Keep reading.