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Life and Work with Ines Hebrard Flores

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ines Hebrard Flores.

Ines, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As you may have noticed, I have two last names, which is a common practice in Spain, where I was born and raised. Both last names reflect my parent’s nationalities: Hebrard is French, which is my father’s nationality, and my mother is Dominican, hence the Hispanic sound of Flores. My home has always been officially bilingual: we spoke French with Dad, and Spanish with Mom. Catalan is the regional language spoken in my birth town, Barcelona, so it’s the tongue I used with some friends, and learning it in school was mandatory.

My studies were all in the French school system, from kindergarten all the way to the master’s degree. At some point, I also started learning Portuguese, and eventually, I lived in Brazil for a year while studying journalism. I was very proud to pass for a native Brazilian by the end of that year, but now, I may have lost some of my Northern accents, the “sotaque nordestino”, as they call it. After graduating from the university, I lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, and then moved to Miami, where I enrolled in Translation and Interpretation Studies. My goal at the time was to improve my English and learn proper translation and interpretation techniques, which have indeed been very useful to expand my knowledge and expertise in the field.

I have been translating from/to English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese as a freelancer for more than a decade now, providing services to marketing agencies, as well as international companies and institutions. What started as a side-job became a professional passion when I realized that my whole life had been preparing me to thrive in multilingual environments. Translating allowed me to use and broaden my language skills while getting to work on a large array of topics.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe that I have been very lucky in life, and for that, I am very grateful. But I firmly believe in that saying: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Let me explain myself.

I got my first translating assignment through a random contact: I had just sent my resume to apply for a position. After reading just the first line of my resume (“Native French and Spanish”), the person called me: was I immediately available to translate an article to French? I submitted my translation faster than expected, and a few moments later the same person called again: “Could you also translate this text to Portuguese?” Long story short: what started as a last-minute one-time assignment, eventually became a weekly gig that lasted for years and opened the door to other collaborations.

Luck may be part of the equation but being prepared to provide a good service is key to grasp an opportunity and make it flourish. You never know which doors will open next. Respecting the deadlines and delivering quality work are two of the most basic things you can do to establish yourself as a freelancer in any field. Also, before venturing into freelance translating or interpreting, is useful to develop skills to turn your passion into a business. This means not only defining your rates and marketing yourself, but also meeting clients, identifying your professional development needs, organizing your finances, and so much more.

Please tell us about your work.
As a translator and interpreter, I provide four main types of services: translation, interpretation, localization, and proofreading. Translating means expressing written words from one language into another, and interpreting means translating orally for parties conversing in a different language. Localization is a process that allows adopting a text to a specific country or region. For example, a brochure written for the Argentinian market may need to be adapted to Spanish from Spain. Finally, proofreading is finding and correcting mistakes in copies of printed text.

One of my professors used to say that most of a translator’s job is to “be prepared, be prepared, be prepared.” Speaking a language is not enough. Being prepared means that for any assignment, any conference, any event, one must make the appropriate research, and study all the terms that may come up, to feel comfortable with the topic and provide the best service. In every situation, my performance as a translator must honor both the writer and the reader, and in an interpretation, my words must convey the speaker’s message and be understood by the listener. Being able to do that in five languages sets me apart, and I feel humbled any time a client contracts my services.

Finally, one of the aspects that challenges and motivates me the most with this job is that it pushes me to find ways to maintain my language skills in good shape. You know what they say: if you do not use a language, you can easily forget it. So, I make sure to use my writing, reading, speaking and listening skills in every language regularly. I feel proud to be able to switch my mind from one language to the other and to put this skill to the service of my clients. For me, that means juggling five languages on a regular basis: Spanish, French, English, Portuguese and Catalan.

Who have you been inspired by?
I can’t single out only a few people! I have been fortunate to have lived in a circle in which women have managed to develop successful careers and a family/social life, two things that sometimes seem like oil and water. I admire those women, like my grandmothers, my mother, my mother-in-law, and many friends, that have been – or still are – able to balance it all. Their journeys inspire me to believe that I, too, can pursue both professional and personal ambitions.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eva Hart Photography, Koubek Center at MDC, Access DR / CICOM

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