In the central parts of Malmoe, a few metres from Lilla Torg/Minor Square from the 16th century, at Hjulhamnsgatan 3 a translation bureau called GLOBALscandinavia has its premises. You may contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org, +46 (0)40 30 47 47, and follow the company on facebook.com/GLOBALscandinavia. They might be found too at twitter.com/globalscandinavia and on LinkedIn as well as their weblog Global Språkglädje, www.globalscandinavia.blogspot.se.
On Friday November 22d 2013 I had booked a meeting with them in order to make this report. The premises are tidy, neat, fresh and in light colours. The atmosphere is modern, professional and cozy. The walls are white, there’s a common kitchen and dining room, followed by small offices, a bigger room in the middle where some of the translators sit by their computers, the boss in a room next to it, while there are other meeting rooms as well. GLOBALscandinavia has been here for about a year now, and in Malmoe since 2007. The company though is much older. This is the story.
In the early 1980’s the founder of this company, Ralf Hohle Hansen, was studying at Handelshøjskolen, (now CBS Copenhagen Business School) and took a Bachelor degree in linguistics there. Ralf became an authorized translator and interpreter to and from German and English. He started a small firm and got some minor customers in and around Copenhagen, Denmark. Soon Ralf had two partners in the firm SprogData A/S for a while. The company grew and already back in 1983 SprogData A/S got translation assignments from the bureau Bohnstedt-Petersen A/S which imported cars from Mercedez Benz in Germany. That was the beginning of the long-lasting co-operation with Daimler/Mercedez Benz which has been going on for 30 years. After 17 years in Copenhagen Ralf’s company grew even more and had 25 professional translators translating between mainly Danish and German, Danish and English, but also some other languages sometimes. In 2004 the company won the Danish Gazelle Award for being economically prosperous. About the same time the company changed its name to GLOBALscandinavia Translation and employed some Swedish translators to the office in the Danish Capital City. The Swedish employees had to travel across Öresund to and fro Copenhagen for a few years. According to Delbert Jonsson who has been with the firm since 2003 it was nice to work in Copenhagen. In 2007 however Ralf Hahne Hansen decided that Global Scandinavia had to develop and get an office in Sweden too for the customers there. So a new office for the Swedish translators was opened in Malmö. GLOBALscandinavia also employed freelancing translators to Finnish in Finland, and in 2010 they bought a Norwegian translating bureau in Norway’s Capital City Oslo. A new office for GLOBALscandinavia was opened there. In Malmö GLOBALscandinavia moved its premises to the house next to the first one in 2012. This is where they are now located at Hjulhamnsgatan 3.
Lisa Åhlén in the photo above is the Country Manager for the staff of the Swedish office. According to the translators I’ve talked to Lisa is a good Manager, both strict, focused on the development of the company and their success, but also on the well-being of the local staff. She came to this company in the summer of 2009. In her youth she studied economics in upper secondary school and then leadership. Between 1993 and 1998 Lisa had her own gym in Hässleholm. Later she got a job at Greif in Perstorp. There Lisa was working first as Chief Financial Officer and then moved on as Sales Manager. While she was working full time for Greif Lisa studied extra progressive leadership at Båstad Academy. Greif after a while realized that three sections in Scandinavia was one too many and closed the office where Lisa was working and Lisa lost her job. Soon however she got the new position as Country Manager for GLOBALscandinavia. When she came here in 2009 the staff had managed the office themselves until then and shared the responsibilities between them. However it was a good decision to get Lisa in place, because under her leadership GLOBALscandinavia is still struggling on. From July this year they have begun to get new customers. Lisa has put focus on management, and has also made GLOBALscandinavia into one of 18 companies within Malmö’s Företagsakademin 3.0/The Company Academy 3.0. That Academy has become an important partner and aid in the progressive work. Last year Lisa also took in Anna Tinglöf as Marketing Manager, and those two have managed to keep the company flowing.
At GLOBALscandinavia under Lisa Åhlén and Anna Tinglöf the company has put much focus on the CSR-work (Corporate Social Responsibility). In that process they have put up five values working according to and which they try to follow as golden rules: happiness, dialogue, smartness, fighting spirit and sustainability. Each Monday at their weekly meeting they go through what has been done, what is to be done and situations during the last week to see if they might improve even more. GLOBALscandinavia has 12 full time translators at the office, and freelancing translators in different countries as well. To help unemployed youngsters with a suitable background GLOBALscandinavia in Malmoe also has had five trainees of immigrant background from the University this summer, and now two youngsters who want insights in the working field. Lisa and Anna furthermore have lectures in CSR-work at seminars in order to inspire other companies how to succeed and improve. It’s important for Lisa to keep the staff intact without having to let anyone go. The times are tough, but at GLOBALscandinavia they have the important strength that they quickly and professionally might get translation assignments done because they have several workers in place at the office who divide the jobs between them, and they don’t only have to rely on freelancers here and there.
Lina Weilemar above is translating texts from German, English, Danish and Norwegian. She studied linguistics and English at Stockholm University. In 2000 Lina was in Amsterdam, Netherlands studying with ERASMUS and a woman there who used to teach Lina welcomed her back if she wanted to. Lina continued her studies at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation/Tolk- och Översättarinstitutet, TÖI in Stockholm where she studied to become a professional translator. In Amsterdam Lina made her Master paper and in the summers of 2005 and 2006 she worked in Norway. Back in Stockholm Lina saw a job application for a Danish translating bureau in Malmö called Inter-Set Translation and stayed with that company for three years. In January 2009 she came to Global Scandinavia.
When Lina comes to the office in the morning she roughly knows what she has to do. She begins with checking her e-mail to see if any new assignments have come in and what the priority for the different translations are. The types of texts vary greatly: technical texts about car models, motors and other engineering material and marketing texts. Also other types of material sometimes. Lina has e.g. translated a text about epilepsy in dogs, and another one about the medical treatment of the skin. Right now she’s working with Mercedez Benz’ home page. The staff at the office has over the years built a data base with lots of words and phrases from previous texts, and apply that when they have to check the accurate expression and word usage. The translators have varied special fields and tend to take certain kinds of texts when possible, but they have to be prepared to take on most sorts. I ask Lina what her preferred texts are, and she explains that it’s marketing texts, sales, brochures, animals/veterinary texts. As we sit there talking Lena explains that they have a good comradeship at the office, a laid-back but professional atmosphere and high working moral.
Henrik Sundberg is one of the project leaders. Several of the translators have project leader parts, which makes the office flexible both on ordinary working days and in times of crisis. Henrik too is translating from German, English, Danish and Norwegian. The rule is that the translator only translates into his or her mother tongue. Henrik explains that they are a combination of researchers, but also editors, copy-writers as well as translators. As project leaders Henrik and his colleague Elin take in the assignments, quotations for word taxations and hire translators. Half his time goes to keep the projects going and the other half to translating texts. On my question how much each translator is doing each day, Henrik explains that roughly 2 500 – 3000 words would be a good estimation.
Delbert Jonsson has been a translator since 2000, and employee at GLOBALscandinavia already from the days when the Swedes were hired to work for the office in Copenhagen then called SprogData, before the change of name into GLOBALscandinavia. When the company moved to the new office in Malmö in March 2007 Delbert also became father for the second time. The reason for the new office was of course to easier attract new customers in Sweden. When Delbert was younger he lived in Bonn, and had a relationship with a woman from East Germany. With her he has his first child, a now ten year old son whom he visits in Berlin every month. Also Delbert begins the working day with checking his e-mail. As it is now the translation bureau has one major customer and some minor ones. Delbert too studied at TÖI in Stockholm to become a professional translator, some more studies in Växjö and Lund, and then as exchange student 1994-1995 when he studied politology/Political Science in Bonn. In 2000 Delbert got his first translator job in Uppsala. There he was working at Star Translitera for two years before he began working for SprogData/GLOBALscandinavia on January 6th 2003.
No doubt GLOBALscandinavia has lots of competent people working for them, and they would never have kept a really big car producer in Germany as customer for 30 years if they hadn’t delivered high quality translations. Could this company be an interesting business partner?
Anders Moberg, January 24th 2014
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