Meet Lise Alain, founder and CEO of LAT Multilingual, a Canadian translation agency based in Vancouver, BC.
Describe LAT in a nutshell.
Since 1999, LAT has specialized in helping companies reach the French Canadian market. Over the years, we’ve broadened our scope to include localization services in a variety of languages, and a special focus on adapting marketing content to reach communities in their own language, on their preferred social platforms.
This marketing focus sets LAT apart from other language service providers: In a world of social media and fast-paced digital marketing, we adapt our customers’ online content in a way that will inspire people to click on an ad, article, or website.
We still do a lot of traditional translation for our clients but increasingly, marketing managers realize the importance of adapting their approach to a multilingual marketplace.
What was your background before starting LAT?
Growing up in Quebec City, a very homogeneous, francophone part of Canada, I was always fascinated by other cultures and languages. I moved to Vancouver in my early twenties to attend the University of British Columbia, initially in their Asian Studies program, then graduated in International Relations. My first job was at the Asia Pacific Foundation, as a research assistant in their resource centre.
After several years as a full time mom, I studied translation to get back into the workforce and went to work at Future Shop, to assist with their rapid expansion on the French Canadian market. Within two years, their English-French translation needs grew so rapidly that it became necessary to contract out the entire process. I formed my own company, recruiting over 45 translators and working for Future Shop as a vendor. Translating the entire e-commerce site in the first year was an incredible learning curve.
I enjoy teamwork, working with people who share my passion to see the differences among human beings as assets, not liabilities, and to tell business owners, “We live in a diverse marketplace. You’ll succeed better if you adapt and embrace it.”
How was it running the business and raising kids?
The business was a huge commitment. I got stressed, I got preoccupied, I never had time. The challenge is carving out quality time, where you’re relaxed enough to focus on the moment. But we travelled a lot and my kids grew up with a global mindset. I’m happy about that.
What’s your schedule now?
The last couple of years, I’ve been trying to better balance life and work. I used to work 15 hours a day; now it’s more like 8-10. And I take weekends off, which is new. Work-life balance is important. I wish I had managed to do this while my family was younger but… in fact, I think we’d all be better parents if we could start at 50, hey?
And when you’re not working?
My pleasures are reading (politics, biographies, fiction), my daily run at daybreak, gardening, and exploring the countryside on my motorcycle. There are such beautiful spots to discover everywhere!
What career advice would you give to a young woman or girl?
Get to know yourself; move toward what triggers joy. Find opportunities, paid or not, to work in the field you love. Sometimes young people say, “I want my own business.” That’s not the point – the point is doing something you like and building relationships. For an immediate payback, there’s nothing like joy and satisfaction.