A new year and a new decade offer the perfect time to reflect. So are anniversaries. Our team at Terra Translations is continuously inspired by our fearless leader Marina Ilari, so we wanted to look back at her journey from translator to CEO of Terra on the eve of her 3rd anniversary as CEO. As a female CEO in an industry led by men, Marina has faced her fair share of challenges to build this company. Her passion for giving back to the translation community and supporting women empowerment organizations has never wavered. Last but not least, she has provided employment to over 500 full-time employees and contractors. In short, she’s pretty amazing.
Marina’s journey towards being the CEO of Terra began in school. She holds a degree in Literary Translation and is certified by the American Translators Association. In her 15 years spent working in the translation industry, she’s become an expert in translation technology and managing translation projects. She received acknowledgment for her business savvy and hard work in 2017. She was awarded the Women Owned Business Enterprise Rising Star Award. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation presents this award to a young business with great promise.
Success was not found without overcoming trials and tribulations. Despite these challenges, Marina has stayed true to her vision for Terra. “The greatest challenge I have faced since starting this company is growing it without sacrificing its culture,” Marina said. Terra began as a mother and daughter endeavor, and the first few hires were within their circle of friends and family, “This created a very special atmosphere within our team that we were able to maintain throughout the years… Our company culture is based on ‘family first’ values that are extended to every member of our team. We work diligently to make sure everyone feels that their voice is being heard and valued.”
According to Marina, Terra’s culture encompasses the quality of the work we do, as well as the quality of our relationships with our employees, our clients, and our community. She believes that supporting our employees’ whole being serves as the basis of a strategic, financial, and successful human capital strategy. This strategy has happily paid off and has resulted in employee loyalty. We’re proud to report that we have a year over year retention rate of 98%.
A Passion for Giving Back
Marina is committed to giving back to the translation industry, the communities that Terra works within, and women empowerment organizations. Alongside her work as CEO, she participates in a variety of professional organizations such as the American Translators Association, Association of Language Companies, Globalization and Localization Association, and Women in Localization.
“As an organization, we deeply care about supporting communities with diverse populations and people of Limited English Proficiency (LEP); it is our goal to create an opportunity for all people to have access to information in order to live fulfilled lives,” Marina noted. This goal inspired the evolution and establishment of the Terra Cares program, in which Terra provides pro bono translation services to select healthcare and legal focused non-profit organizations within our communities.
Where She Hopes to Head Next
When asked where she hopes Terra will be in five years, Marina stated, “I would like Terra Translations to be the number one translation service company in Latin America. What drives this wish to become number one in Latin America is because there is very little diversity in top management in the industry as a whole. From the top twenty largest language service companies, there is only one female CEO.”
Considering that the majority of translators, interpreters, and linguists that perform the linguistic tasks within the industry are close to 70% women, Marina believes more women in the industry should be in leadership positions. “It has always surprised me that this women-driven industry would not see more diversity at the top. It’s important to bring more diversity to leadership roles in the industry, and I would like to be the person that brings that diversity to the Latin American region,” she said.