Eric Bauwelinck: A Virtuoso and Industry Leader in the Global Interpretation Industry

Eric Bauwelinck | Mastervoice | The Enterprise World

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” — Paul J. Meyer.

As true as the quote stands, communication is the key to every relationship, be it personal or professional. Communication bridges many gaps and fills them with insightful information- when conveyed crisply and clearly. However, the ultimate gap is a language barrier, when two individuals converse in two different languages, the need for an intermediator arises. The intermediator is none other than the interpreter. Recognizing this problem and resolving it on a global scale for businesses and organizations is one such instrumental leader. 

With a mission to unlock global business potential with online interpreting for international organizations and speakers, Eric Bauwelinck, CEO of Mastervoice has created a one-stop-shop for effective language solutions. 

A visionary with a people-first approach, Eric Bauwelinck is a strong believer in human language technology to globalize business. With a wealth of experience of three decades, Eric’s domain expertise lies in simultaneous interpreting solutions for small and large events, professional remote simultaneous interpreting, online language training, person-to-person interpreting, and language technology. Eric Bauwelinck believes language is a unique gift that can change and influence thoughts, lives, and businesses. 

Eric Bauwelinck studied at Mercator Hogeschool Gent and pursued his graduation with honors in English, German, and French. Additionally, he gained expertise in the field of Simultaneous Interpretation and Language Technology. 

Apart from being a CEO, Eric Bauwelinck is also a recognized language expert for the European Commission, a Member of the Professional Speakers Association, Member of MPI (Meeting Planners International), and a Member of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association). 

About Mastervoice

Mastervoice specializes in simultaneous interpreting for international organizations. The initial focus on onsite conferencing has moved to hybrid meetings with connected rooms or hubs and remote participation with remote interpretation. 

The organization’s strategic goal is to offer simultaneous interpreting solutions for all business cases to enable its promise of meeting in any language from any location with human interpreters on hybrid platforms.

Mastervoice is a pioneer in language technology, it was the first language service provider to offer online interpretation with conference calls using any IP-based medium and one of the few global service providers to receive ISO 9001:2008 certification as a recognized language technology consultant.

A Sneak Peek into Eric’s Professional Journey

Eric Bauwelinck has been supporting international organizations with simultaneous interpreting services for the past 30 years. His interests include languages, language technology, language philosophy, and spirituality.

Under his leadership, Mastervoice has gone through the complete transformation cycle from onsite to online interpreting including the current trend of hybrid meetings. Exceeding customer expectations has always been at the top of his priorities to make a difference in the industry, sometimes balancing between the interests of conference interpreters and event planners but always with a joint purpose in mind.

It has always been a true privilege to support international dialogue and to contribute to global understanding, cultural diversity, economic cooperation, and peace between nations. 

Conquering Challenges   

2020 was a year of transformation with Covid-19 as the single greatest accelerator for remote simultaneous interpreting and the ideal solution to meet from any remote workplace. The biggest challenge in videoconferencing is local connectivity from local networks and local devices regardless of the interpreting platform used. The technical struggle to get a clear and crisp audio feed from remote workspaces is still one of the biggest challenges in hybrid meetings. 

More and more connected rooms are now supported by audio-visual operators again, which is a positive evolution that resolves most if not all technical issues onsite. Online connectivity from remote locations requires individual discipline from presenters and interpreters to use headsets, table microphones, and cabled networks. The current economic climate is also impacting the interpreting industry, with price pressure on tight budgets requiring us to renegotiate terms and conditions more dynamically than ever before.

Every organization is looking for cost efficiency, and the meeting industry that just recovered from the health crisis is certainly not an exception. It requires genuine and repeated efforts to convince clients of the added value of professional simultaneous interpreting services for international meetings, but it is worth every effort. 

Mastervoice sees it as its mission to educate end users on the value of interpretation in the international dialogue.

Shifting Gears to Grow Multifold

The transformation from onsite to online interpretation was the biggest trigger to change Mastervoice’s strategic goal from onsite meetings to hybrid meetings with online interpretation. Since 2020, the organization has been partnering with next-gen language technology providers to offer its clients and interpreters top-notch remote interpreting solutions.

Integrating Effective Transformations from Onsite to Online

Onsite interpretation involves labor-intensive project management such as travel arrangements, finding suitable accommodations, setting up booths and meeting rooms, and organizing shuttles between airports, meeting venues, and conference hotels. The total cost of ownership has increased strongly in the past few years, making it much more cost-effective to provide online interpretation services for connected rooms or hubs with onsite participants. 

It also allows the meeting organizer to meet at their own office or venue instead of hiring large meeting rooms to set up interpreting booths and peripherals. Last but not least, it unlocks the surplus capacity of remote interpreters sourced from every corner of the world rather than being dependent on local pools of interpreters only.

Mastervoice’s Lifelong Success is a Measure of Quality and Trust 

Eric Bauwelinck pens an insightful piece on the reason behind Mastervoice’s long-standing success.

You can have the best interpreters in the world with next-gen language technology, but there is a difference between standards and values. Standards are quality requirements to deliver professional language services, but in my opinion business values are the main differentiator in the language industry. 

Trust is one of the greatest assets if you can demonstrate this as a trusted language provider for global brands and companies. Loyalty, on the other hand, is also highly valued by interpreters and operators, giving priority to those interpreters who have shown the highest degree of loyalty to our end customers. Offering value is not just a matter of pricing, it is a matter of exceeding the expectations of your end customers and doing more than what is expected within industry standards.”

A Holistic Overview of Mastervoice: Highlighting Services, Differentiators, and Scaling with Key Partnerships

Mastervoice is a language service provider offering the full range of professional language services: simultaneous interpretation, translation services, language training, language technology, and language consultancy.

The organization places high value on the concept of global understanding. Global English does not suffice to break language barriers or to participate in international dialogue. Its vision is to boost globalization with expert interpreters, translators, and trainers supported by human language technology. 

Eric Bauwelinck adds, “We are a strong believer in collaboration and partnership versus competition and protection of self-interest in the market. This is where we want to be different and leverage our key values of loyalty, trust, and reliability in the interpreting industry.

Mastervoice values customers and stakeholders with a proven record of reliability, flexibility, and expertise with a human touch.

Nothing can replace Human Interactions and Interpreters

In human communication, there is nothing more ‘exciting’ than a face-to-face conversation between two human beings who look each other in the eyes without being hindered by language barriers. 

The consumer market will make massive use of AI and neural machine translation, but the niche of professional conferencing will continue to require authentic human voices that are faithfully and reliably reproduced in meaning, nuance, and emotion by professional human interpreters.

A Co-operative Word Culture

Mastervoice believes in transparent communication of its key values of trust, loyalty, and reliability which are reflected in its company culture and procedures. The organization highly values autonomy, ownership, and personal commitment to supporting corporate clients.

Creating frequent opportunities to debrief, consult and exchange is very important to inspire the ongoing commitment of its team members. This is organized with structured internal audits and weekly team meetings, but also with face-to-face conversations. Last but not least, this developed the habit of sharing its company goals and vision with its entire team regularly.

Eric Bauwelinck’s take on Entrepreneurship and its Responsibilities

A true entrepreneur can listen to customers, employees, and suppliers and take action based on real needs and concerns, and this is beyond the raw economic context. This can only happen if entrepreneurs create opportunities to enable a meaningful exchange. 

Customer feedback is critical for continuous improvement as well as frequent and constructive exchanges with professional federations, interpreters, and audio-visual suppliers, and this is outside the context of a meeting order or interpreter assignment.

The Moment of Victory

Eric Bauwelinck’s biggest achievement has been working for global brands and international institutions as a language service provider. This is not possible without the support, goodwill, loyalty, and professionalism of the interpreters. Their achievements contribute to his achievements. 

A Classic Taste in Books

Eric Bauwelinck loves to read historic novels with a touch of philosophy and spirituality. Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho are at the top of Eric’s preferred list. If he would have to pick one, it would be The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, a perfect blend of history, philosophy, spirituality, and language. 

Additionally, Eric’s love for books doesn’t end at reading. He has written and published his book ‘Voices from Above’ on the transformation from onsite to online interpreting. He received an award from New York Times best-selling author Raymond Aaron for his vision of the future of conference interpreting. Remote interpreting was something for the early believers who were shouting in the wilderness in those days.

Drawing Inspiration from Great Figures

Eric Bauwelinck finds inspiration from Entrepreneurs who have built a global company from scratch and given back to society. Not only people like Bill Gates but also motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins. Tony Robbins also inspired other successful coaches, like Carl Van de Velde in Belgium who inspired Eric as well to rethink his business models and goals.

Eric Bauwelinck is most inspired by the quote, “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.” – Marcus Aurelius

Competing Comprehensively

Where there is competition, there is a need. The more competition, the bigger the need. Competition helps customers to distinguish the service levels, client-orientedness, expertise, and supportiveness between various language service providers. 

Eric Bauwelinck believes that in the near future, language technology platforms will offer language service providers the ability to participate in value-added ecosystems instead of competing with each other locally. 

Competition is there to improve, remodel or reshape the market, to find a balance between price, value, and quality, and to encourage language service providers to exceed customer expectations and improve their market proposition versus competing offers.

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