An Interview with Absolute Interpreting and Translations founder Emal Haidari
Absolute Interpreting and Translations is one of the UK’s leading international services with over 21,000 interpreters and translators covering more than 395 languages. The company has developed its own integrated digital services request and management platform that allows all clients to receive services more quickly and easily than ever before. For this, they were awarded Corporate LiveWire’s NHS Interpreting and Translation Management System of the Year. With such an innovative and exciting development in the interpreting and translation sector, Corporate LiveWire were keen to find out more about Absolute Interpreting and Translations and what else it has to offer, so we spoke with its inspiring founder Emal Haidari.
Can you tell us your inspiration for starting your company and how it began?
Interpreting and translating is something I dreamt about doing from a young age. At 16 years old, able to speak, read and write in five languages, I started working for the United Nations (UN) as an interpreter and translator. I held a position there for five years, and I was given the opportunity to become a fully-qualified conference interpreter and translator.
Absolute Interpreting and Translation was formed back in 2007, after realising a gap in the market for a high-quality interpreting and translation service that was unfalteringly accurate, as well as compliant with the strict and robust requirements of the NHS and local authorities. At that time, I witnessed many compliance issues in the industry which not all providers could offer. My business partner and I therefore co-founded Absolute Interpreting and Translation to ensure there was a service out there that people could rely on and trust.
After just six months in business, we shocked the industry by winning the Ministry of Justice contract, and within the same month we were awarded the UN Aids Programme in Geneva.
Can you tell us more about the services that you have available now?
The business started by providing face-to-face interpreting and translation services, but today we provide a wide range of services including: (i) telephone interpreting; (ii) British sign language; (iii) written translation services, (iv) Braille translation services; (v) easy read, large print; (vi) audio to text, technical, legal, medical and commercial translation, voice-overs and subtitling.
We now offer a 24 hour service throughout the UK with offices in London and Manchester, as well as our headquarters in Birmingham. We also have an office in Kabul to support the British troops in Afghanistan, the UN and other NGOs. In addition, we also cover Canada, the US and Europe.
We are entrusted by major reputable national and international organisations, such as film and television production companies including BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News, football clubs including Leicester Football Club, and even global beauty brand Estée Lauder.
Why does Absolute Interpreting and Translation work frequently with the NHS and local authorities?
As a qualified interpreter having worked with WHO and UN providing health care services, I know the importance of providing quality and patient focused services. Quality patient care doesn’t come from the NHS alone; NHS partners, including translators, have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure patients get the best service from the NHS. I therefore believe, as a partner, we have a professional responsibility to support the NHS in delivering quality patient care.
I also have a personal passion for delivering quality service to the NHS due to having worked with the UN Development Programme and the World Health Organisation, which gave me an insight into what people have to go through to get basic healthcare. We have been doing this successfully by providing bespoke services and supporting NHS clients by promoting excellence in patient care, sponsoring their events and being available 24/7.
What differentiates Absolute Interpreting and Translation from other companies within the sector?
We guarantee responsibility, reliability and the absolute highest quality service. As a linguist myself, I fully understand that quality is far more important than price in this industry. We ensure this firstly through a strict and robust recruitment process and assessment, and by using native speakers of the languages we offer. We have proudly been certified for our quality service by ISO 17100 and ISO 9001.
With over 21,000 interpreters and translators across the country speaking 395 languages in total, we are always able to meet our clients’ needs. By always striving to provide an interpreter or translator with skills and experience most suited to the requirements of the job. We also have a uniquely designed digital interpreting and translation management system for our clients to request and receive services easily online.
How does your interpreting and translation management system support the services you provide?
The digital management system that we provide our clients, including the NHS and local authorities, is a one-stop language solution that offers many added-value features leading to higher efficiency and service improvement. Therefore if a local authority requires an interpreter, whether it’s face-to-face or via phone, they can request it at the click of a button and receive a swift response 24 hours-a-day.
Our clients can also receive updates in their own language, and the system has even made it possible for us to fully and securely integrate with hospitals’ patient electronic records. This allows us to give a patient’s medical history efficiently within a quick response time.
Our innovation technology has helped us to guarantee continual savings for our NHS and local authority clients by providing higher efficiency and more swift response time. In 2018 alone, we saved three of our local NHS clients across the West Midlands just over £250,000.
What support do you give to your interpreters and translators to ensure their best practise?
From recruitment, to interview and competency test processes to induction and provision of Industry Specific Public Service Interpreting training courses, we ensure all our interpreters are fully DBS checked, qualified and trained to professional standards.
We also ensure our interpreters and translators are provided with annual Continuing Professional Development courses to maintain our high standards. If our staff have any queries or concerns, they can contact us at any time of day.
Furthermore, we understand our interpreters have a very difficult job; they may interpret for criminals, victims of rape and sexual violence, domestic abuse, safeguarding concerns, asylum seekers, patients, and so on. As a caring, responsible and professional interpreting and translation service, we provide aftercare support for all of our interpreters.
How do you use your service to help tackle social challenges the UK is facing?
Absolute Interpreting and Translation is a responsible provider and we believe it is our professional duty to tackle social challenges where possible within our lines of business.
For example, we recently worked closely with Cheshire East Council to address loneliness and isolation among ethnic minorities in Crewe. On 22 November 2019, we also sponsored the Staff Excellence Awards for the East Cheshire NHS Trust for praising their professional staff’s excellent work which will then lead to increased quality patient care.
What more does Absolute Interpreting and Translation hope to achieve in the near future?
We are not interested in focusing on revenue increase; instead we are investing more in innovation, service quality, and in creating the best experience for our clients. While most businesses are worried about the outcome of Brexit, Absolute Interpreting and Translation are, on the contrary, investing half a million to expand our Birmingham headquarters. This will enable us to have 25 to 30 staff members who can expand our portfolio of services further globally, to match the services we offer here in the UK.
T: +44(0) 0121 270 6801