Hi everyone! My ever-growing business responsibilities, three visits to Greece within the same month, a few conferences, plus post-holidays blues meant no interview for September (booooo!). But, the interview series are now back and stronger than ever with Maria Pia Montoro. She wears so many hats, and has so many different jobs and roles that I still don't know exactly what she does or rather how she actually does it! From Terminologist, QA Engineer and Translator to T-shirt and jewellery Designer, she's got the energy to lead two parallel lives: one in Rome and one in Luxembourg. You can feel this superwoman's positive vibes from every corner of this planet and now you get to know her a little bit better!
1. So, Maria Pia what exactly is it that you do? I saw something on Instagram lately called <DIV>A? Can you tell us a bit more?
This is a question I hope to be able to reply to very soon!
2. OK. We'll wait for that one then, but, please don't keep us waiting for too long! Could you tell me what’s a typical day like for you, if there is such thing?
Yes! Well, it depends! I have two parallel lives: one in Rome and one in Luxembourg. In Luxembourg, I work in an office, so I have a normal office routine as required by a typical 09:00-17:00 job. I work as a QA Engineer for the new IATE. It will be online next year! I speak English (and a bit of French), I have colleagues from all around the world, I eat local, delicious (mostly junk) food and I drink beer. Then, when I’m in Rome, I work from home for a web-based project for which my presence in an office is not needed. I speak Italian. I’m with my husband and close to my family. I go out more. I eat local, delicious food, in Rome too, but, I drink red wine instead of beer. I enjoy both lives as one complements the other. Both offer different experiences and knowledge. Basically, it's 'me time' in Luxembourg and 'we time' in Rome.
3. And why did you choose the translation industry?
Because God is busy! Just kidding! But if you really think about it, God created all this mess with the tower of Babel. Now it is up to us, translators, to fix the problem He has created!
4. Nice, little hint there to your super famous t-shirt! But, how did it all start for you?
It started by listening to Michael Jackson songs and learning the lyrics by heart when I was a teenager. I never really stopped listening to his songs since then. I felt generally attracted to English and foreign languages. Later, I was inspired by Fernanda Pivano and Amelie Nothomb. I dreamt about translating literature from the terrace of my future house in southern Italy, gazing at the olive trees and the sea, drinking red wine. The reality ended up looking way more urban. I am based in an open office in Luxembourg, I see the sky and clouds, I’m translating website UIs, and I’m using so much jargon when I speak that I sound like Jar Jar Binks! It is not something I could have ever imagined as a young student. However, I am grateful for the exciting job opportunities I've had so far and the experience I've gained.
5. What else does your job role involve?
I have never been “just” a translator, but a News Translator, Web Content Manager, Press Review Officer, Web Content Manager, Terminologist, QA Engineer, Usability Expert and Social Media Manager. The hat I wear depends very much on the project I’m assigned to and the needs of the organisation.
6. Proper geeky stuff! And when you are not working, what do you do?
In March this year, I started selling t-shirts, the ones saying 'I am a translator because God is busy'! I have been enjoying that a lot. I’m learning digital marketing on the job. No theory, just trying things out, using my own funds and my own creative enterprising. I started with just a few T-shirts and now I’ve printed the fourth batch. I actually wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience in sales with this amazing community of translators. I owe it all to you: you asked for it, you wanted it, you encouraged me, you bought the tees, you took selfies in them and you shamelessly posted the pics online along with the most wonderful unboxing videos! I've sold t-shirts in pretty much all regions of Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Belgium, UK, Slovenia, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland and even overseas in Brazil! One of the translators came on a European tour from Argentina! We met in Luxembourg and I gave her the t-shirt in person. How amazing is that?!
7. It is pretty incredible how far this initiative has reached. I think your entrepreneurial mind will take you to even further. Do you?
I hope so! Working in an office is so last century! I cannot imagine doing it for the rest of my life. I prefer to network during conferences and be in co-working spaces with people that share the same interests as me or that give me new perspectives and fresh ideas. Having colleagues is great but, if you think about it, it's like being married to them. You share your successes and complains, you learn every detail about their private lives somewhere down the line, you see them in suits and sweatshirts, you listen to all their pet peeves about public transport or fights and queues at the post office. It’s intimate, but also emotionally demanding. At some point, you might want a break! I do have to admit though that I’ve always been very lucky. I had and still have great colleagues, some of which have turned into very good friends.
8. So does this need for a change perhaps tie with your plans for the future?
Yes. As I mentioned at the beginning, I would like to have my own company, free from the office routine, leaving home only to attend conferences and events, to co-work or just for fun. I don’t want somebody else to take care of my future kids (if I have any). I want to spend quality time with my family.
9. And, finally, is there anything you would like to say to your younger self?
To take more pictures! I don’t have any pictures pre-social media era! I’d also tell her to be an early adopter of social media, without being so snobbish about them, because they would give her many networking opportunities as well as really cool jobs. I would advise being more confident and patient because everything will come at just the right moment; sooner for some people, later for others. Many people are just passively following a plan someone else made for them: their family, our society, the media. Mark your own path, and if it’s right for you, don’t worry if it doesn’t conform to the standards society wants you to conform to!
I second all the above! Maria Pia, thank you for your time and for agreeing to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck with your entrepreneurial adventures, although I am sure you won't need it!
Maria Pia Montoro is a Terminologist, Web Content Manager and Translator. She splits her time between Luxembourg and Rome. Currently, she's involved in the development of a new, updated IATE platform. She's furthermore, fundraising for Translators Without Borders by selling the "I'm a translator because God is busy" t-shirts. You can reach her on Twitter @WordLo and Instagram @wordlo and @outfitfortranslators. Go get the T-shirt and help fundraise for TWB now on https://wordlo.patternbyetsy.com