Meeting Central Europe and Inspiring Vendor Managers in Prague
Here I am, continuing with my favourite business trips and attending conferences. This time, I was at Meet Central Europe, a conference whose name has nothing to do with the translation industry. Luckily, I spotted it by chance on Facebook when one from my friends showed an interest in going there and, as it turned out, the event was great and very useful for freelancers and translation companies alike.
I’d like to share a few of my impressions from the trip and also give a short description of the conference.
Topic of the conference
Inspiring Vendor Managers
What could be more inspiring for VMs than meeting hundreds of colleagues and translators, sharing experiences and being able to recruit new staff? The subject is actually what makes this conference unique. For the first time in years, a translation conference I attended was not exclusively dedicated to machine translation but to a specific part of the translation business, i.e. how, where and who to hire for your translation business.
Prague, Czech Republic.
A fascinating city to visit – see my top 5 places in the post-script.
October 10-11, with a pre-conference day dedicated to a tekom event and networking.
Vendor, project, sales, general and other managers of translation companies mainly from Central Europe, but not only. Also for freelance translators and potential in-house staff who wish to work with translation agencies.
My motivation in going there
Well, I love conferences, as you know. But I was particularly interested in the topic since I regularly hire new freelancers and employees for my company. This conference seemed like it could give me the answers to some questions I had about vendor management. What’s more, it looked like an ideal place to search out new talents and also present my own company to colleagues from abroad.
Some of the presentations I visited and liked
Strategies for Rapid Global Sales Growth
– because I’m looking for a sales manager and the presentation was about hiring a sales team in different countries around the globe. Besides, the presenter also covered the topic in a fun and professional way.
Strategic thinking: The answer to vendor selection for EU Projects
– because of my interest in EU projects and our successes and failures in selecting vendors for the EU tenders we have taken part in.
From student to freelancer: How agencies can support new entrants
– because it’s an excellent initiative to support students even before they graduate and introduce them to the real world of the translation business.
What I didn’t like about the presentations
There were many interesting presentations but, to be honest, not all of them were presented very well. Some of the key topic presentations didn’t tell me anything new, and I guess it was the same for the professional VMs there as the presenters simply talked about more general and basic things. One presenter didn’t even show up at one presentation – and it had looked like it was going to be on a very interesting topic But fortunately, this didn’t mar the overall impression of the presentations in general.
My score for the quality/value of the presentations: 4 out of 5.
It seemed that there were too many presentations on similar topics going on at the same time, so it was difficult to decide where to go.
The first day started with masterclasses which had to be paid for additionally, so the first presentation actually started only at 13:15.
There was a job fair in the morning, but this wasn’t exactly convenient for those people who were attending the masterclasses since they went on until the fair was basically wrapping up. For anyone who did attend the fair, though, it was a great opportunity to talk with vendor managers from dozens of translation companies from around Europe.
The presentations lasted 45 minutes, which was a reasonable length of time.
However, there was only one coffee break on the first day and two on the second – which was definitely not enough for all us coffee addicts and networking nerds.
My score for the convenience of the schedule: 3.5 out of 5.
Catering and gala dinner
Good coffee, sandwiches and cakes during the coffee breaks. What more could you wish for during a conference to satisfy your hunger pangs?
The gala dinner took place in a wonderful restaurant at the top of the famous Dancing House, with its splendid view. It would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the fact that our crowd was much larger than the venue could seat so half of us ended up eating standing up. At least the food was pretty tasty and there was a nice broad selection of wine.
My score for the catering and gala dinner: 3.5 out of 5.
Access to information
It was helpful that the event had an app showing the agenda and list of attendees, and making it possible to message other attendees, organise meet-ups and post anything you wanted. This was just what we needed for networking and further follow-ups. Attendees could also post job adverts and apply for work or cooperation.
The event website itself didn’t provide all the necessary information, however, and the email response time of staff was slow. Some of my questions remained unanswered before the organisers launched the app a few days ahead of the conference.
My score for ease of access to information: 4 out of 5.
Business opportunities and networking
The event presented a great opportunity to meet many freelancers and translation agencies from all around Europe and further afield. In particular, there were many people there from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Germany. I was surprised to meet three people who had never met before but who all originally come from my hometown of Kharkiv in Ukraine.
For me, it was an invaluable opportunity to get acquainted with freelancers and agencies from other CEE countries because my company always seeks reliable vendors to cooperate in the languages we don’t cover. It was also great to exchange contacts with other translation companies who may need a professional supplier in our main language pairs.
I had a stroke of luck in that I managed to have a chance meeting with some representatives of the translation departments of the European Commission and the European Central Bank. There were also a few presentations given by specialists in EU projects, which were of particular interest to me as our company takes part in EU tenders.
A number of networking events were organised: a pre-conference meet-up in a pub (there’s no way you can start a conference in Prague without a delicious Czech beer), the gala dinner on the first evening, a night tour around Prague and then another pub on the second day.
My score for the networking: 5 out of 5.
Willing to visit again?
Definitely, yes. I’ve already marked October 7-9 2020 in my diary for next year’s Meet Central Europe Conference in Innsbruck, Austria.
My overall score for the conference: 4 out of 5.
The top 5 places I enjoyed visiting in Prague
Prague is larger than I have expected and it’s a city you can’t afford to miss. It’s so beautiful and fascinating that two days is simply not enough to explore it all. This was my second time in Prague but I fell in love with it all over again. My favourite spots in Prague are:
- Old Town – I tried visiting it late at night when all the tourists are asleep. This is the time when you can enjoy most the magic of this medieval place, the gorgeous square with its famous medieval astronomical clock, narrow streets and picturesque houses.
- Lesser Town and Hradčany with the sumptuous Prague Castle – romantic streets, baroque churches and palaces.
- The famous Charles Bridge – so crowded by day but such a nice place to walk at night.
- Petřín Hill with the Petřín Lookout Tower – said to be a mini copy of the Eiffel Tower. Even though there’s a funicular railway which can take you up the hill, I enjoyed the walk and being able to contemplate the beauty of nature. The view from the top of the hill and the tower is stunning both by day and at night.
- Admiring the swans near the river under Charles Bridge – besides feeding these graceful birds, you can also gaze at the picturesque view of the bridge and the Old Town.
Author: Oleg Semerikov, General manager at Translators Family.