A CHEPSTOW company which helps major international brands understand how consumers think and place that in global context has won a prestigious award.
Ruth Partington and her team at Empower Translate were proud to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
The Lord Lieutenant of Gwent Brigadier Robert Aitken presented the award on behalf of His Majesty the King at Empower’s office at Basepoint in Thornwell.
The company which started as a table-top enterprise in the mid-90s now operates in virtually every country in the world, translating 170 languages, has 20 in-house employees and is worth £2 million a year translating for the market research industry.
Mrs Partington, Empower’s chief executive, explained: “What we do is translate market research from one language to another.
“Think of Tesco wanting to know if they are performing well or not. We translate that across the world and that gives them insight, globally, on how to improve and develop.”
Receiving the award from Brigadier Aitken, Mrs Partington said: “This is emotional for me because the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade has been an absolute stand-out achievement for us.
“It’s a business recognition of and from the highest order in the UK.”
The international nature of the firm was underlined by the presence of colleagues who had flown in from Argentina and Columbia for the presentation.
Presenting the award, Brigadier Aitken urged the company to let others know about its achievement.
He said: “It’s a huge honour for me to come here on behalf of the King and present the Queen’s Award in recognition and in memory of his late mother.
“One of my messages to you is shout out that you have a won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
“These are incredibly hard things to get – lots of people apply, very few get it, you really had to earn it.
“This is richly deserved. Let everyone know that Her Majesty the Queen awarded you this award for enterprise.”
She also paid tribute to her “brilliant” team who are experts and authorities in their fields.
Explaining the background to the company, Mrs Partington said: “We translate into almost every language in the world and every dialect and that means we work with translators in almost every country in the world.
“As a woman-owned enterprise winning the last of the Queen’s Awards is a tremendous accolade and its from very humble beginnings.
“We can all achieve this – I started off in the dining room, mother of two struggling along – working all the hours God gave and all the hours the kids would allow me – into today in 2023 a woman-owned, Queen’s award-winning enterprise, a £2 million-plus business supporting the livelihoods of more than 20 team members and giving voice to millions of people around world.
“We really are at the cutting edge of the tech-driven revolution of global research design.
“There is so much noise and hype around technology but we are one of the few that actually make it work in the world today and for the world tomorrow.
“That gives us the right with our positive and ethical contribution to the world to be sitting here today.
“Our vision as a Queen’s Award for Enterprise winner is to shout about it to make the UK a really attractive place for people to work with all over the world, a partner that people are really proud to work with.”
The company’s work covers a huge range of activities – even including health information and movie trailers.
“When you watch a movie trailer, we do a lot of the background research to decide which movie trailer is going to be put on TV or onto the big screen.”
Empower works with world-leading market research agencies “names you might see on TV when you see an advert for a product and there is a little marker about where the research came from –they are the kind of brands and companies we work for.
“We cover about 170 different languages so it’s a global reach and the other unique thing we do is localise those languages to the area where the research is going to be carried out.
“It is about having people based in the countries and sometimes in the actual towns where the research is being carried out.
“It is the critical skill of translating something so you don’t know its been translated.
“It’s a common problem that people who participate in research do not finish the surveys they’ve been asked to complete because the translation is so weak that they do not feel valued.
“It’s super critical to have something that reads really smoothly and really well, that speaks to you, the person who is participating in the research.
“The brands we work with are global and they need a global position.”
This “global aspect of being local” even has its own word – “glocalisation”.
Languages have always been important to Mrs Partington who grew up hearing languages other than English being spoken at home.
She said: “I grew up in an environment where we always had international visitors. My father was an international research scientist and I always heard other languages than English, my world was never closed in that way,
“I did languages at school and university. I came out of university effectively qualified as a professional translator for Russian, French, Italian and English.”
She set up as a freelance translator after the birth of her first child.
“The beauty of being a freelance translator is that you do it when it suits you and when the baby doesn’t need you
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come back to a skill they have while carrying on with the lifestyle they want.”
A key moment in the devlopment of the business was when she was asked at a networking event to translate a letter into Polish
“I can either say that is not one of my languages and that is not how it works or I say I know somebody who can do this.
“I went down the I know a man who can route and 25 years later here were are.”
The company relocated to its offices just off the M48 from Bristol three years ago.
She added: “Wales is a wonderful place to live and work. Its small enough to feel personal but big enough to give everything you could possibly want.’’