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Interview with Mário Lúcio de Freitas, translator - Behind The Curtains

Mário Lúcio de Freitas, translator
Mário Lúcio de Freitas, translator

Mário Lúcio de Freitas, translator, 32-year experience, also worked as business and operations manager in five multinational companies and in engineering projects. .

Graduated in Business Administration and Accounting from UnB in 1990, and as Technical Translator and Interpreter En-Pt-En from the American School of Brasilia in 1986.

Specialized in translation of technical/engineering, legal/contracts and business/finance documents .

Please, talk a bit about your background before you become a translator (your training and previous work experiences).

I studied English since my childhood. My mother was Lebanese and the only way I could communicate with her family in Lebanon was in English.

At the age of 13, I started my studies in an American school, which I attended for 7 years, completing high school with two invitations to the National Honor Society. I graduated in Business Administration and Accounting from University of Brasilia/DF/Brazil, and worked as a business manager in five international companies for 20 years, 11 of which for AmBev and 8 for Canadian engineering companies. Throughout these years, I always kept working as a translator, just as as an extra source of income.

What happened that you became a translator?

I’ve been translating since 1987. As soon as I finished high school, I started translating and was able to build a decent portfolio for starters.

But only in 2013, with the bankruptcy of MMX, with Eike Batista as my last “boss,” I was laid-off for the last time, at the age of 45. I still tried the old-fashion way, sending resumes, trying to get a new job, but all the proposals I received offered me half of my previous salary.

Then I gave up the "traditional way." I decided to invest only in my career as a translator. It was the best thing I’ve ever done, professionally speaking, and I regret not having done it ten years earlier!

How did this background help you with translation?

A translator’s background comprises several inputs. Since I learned English since I was a child and studied seven years in an American school, the fluent English criteria was my first input. I have always been an excellent student, with a B+ average all along, and an A average in two years, rendering invitations to the NHS twice, which I refused twice. I was never a nerd.

Next, I had a great experience as a businessman. As an AmBev accredited dealer, I learned a lot about sales, logistics, management, accounting, contracts, etc. Then at Telelistas and Albany, I added great knowledge in lawsuits and expatriate work proceedings. Finally, I worked for SNC-Lavalin and Worley Parsons, where I spent my days side by side with Canadian engineers and other English native speakers every day. At SNC, I was hired as a Senior Translator, became the manager of the translation team and worked in job sites for six months, another fantastic experience.

What is your personal assessment of the area?

Our area has a sui generis market.

The translation courses provide quite a solid theoretical basis, however representing only 10% of what one needs to become a good translator. The person who graduates in translation is usually frustrated for not being able to get work proposals/jobs and having to compete with people graduated in other areas, many times more successful due to the background mentioned above.

But it is a market with opportunities and demand for all of us, graduated in translation or otherwise. Success is achieved with competence, a good networking strategy, and professionalism. Diplomas, certificates and the like represent very little in that scenario, as well as the theories of translation.

What is the level of satisfaction that working in translation brings to you?

Working as a translator is the only thing that actually gave me any professional pleasure in my entire life.

Since 2013, with no more bosses, working hours, two hours in the daily commuting, thousands of rules, eating in restaurants every day, absurd discounts on your paycheck, and many other annoyances, I definitely fell in love for being a self-employed translator. I’d never go back to any of my former statuses. I’ll never have a boss again!


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