Today Translations profile: Jurga Zilinskiene

Covering over 160 languages for more than 200 clients is easier to say than do

Sometimes it takes an outsider to truly appreciate how lucky we are in the UK when it comes to a strong business environment, particularly when you compare the situation to that of some of our European counterparts.

Jurga Zilinskiene (pictured centre, with colleagues) is one of those outsiders. After arriving eight years ago from Lithuania, she appreciates how good Britain is for business. “Compared to Lithuania, where in the past people have been forced into their own kind of enterprise in order to survive, setting up in the UK is heavenly,” she says.

And she’s certainly made the most of her opportunity. After studying law and economics and then teaching herself computer programming, she then worked as a translator and inventor before spotting a gap in the market and setting up her latest venture: Today Translations. The business, which won her a Shell LiveWire Award in 2003, manages a database of over 1,500 linguists, interpreting and translating in more than 160 languages for 200-plus clients. Considering that Zilinskiene has done all this without any additional finance, it’s an even more impressive achievement.

Then there’s the fact she designed the company’s database herself. “I spoke to around 10 companies, briefing them on exactly what I wanted, and they all gave excuses for why this couldn’t be achieved. In the end I decided to do it myself and, after some training, in just six months I had the database I wanted,” she explains.

This kind of entrepreneurial determination is a far cry from some of the stereotypical images of Eastern Europeans, which have become prevalent since the enlargement of the EU. Zilinskiene says she finds the cynical attitude of many UK businesses towards the advantages of the expansion disappointing. “There are many benefits to be gained from these sleeping economies who, while they might not have a lot of wealth in conventional terms, have little debt. UK business could be benefiting from this new market in the way countries like Germany are.”

But if British businesses won’t take advantage of the opportunities, then she certainly will. Zilinskiene hopes in a few years’ time her translation service will have become a market leader, not just in this country, but all across Europe.

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