Apostroph in person: Larissa Stalder

“What goes around comes around”

Larissa Stalder holds an MSc in Business Administration with a focus on strategic business development, and a Master of International Business from USC Australia. Joining Apostroph as Junior Business Developer, she became our Head of Sales within three-and-a-half years. Asked for a personal description, she likens herself to the se; i.e. sometimes calm, sometimes stormy…

Apostroph: you grew up in a rural part of canton Lucerne. What have you seen of the big wide world?
Larissa Stalder: You’ll find lots of stamps in my passport. Speaking as a private individual, but also as a business economist, I’m fascinated by other cultures. That’s why I combined travelling with professional development. To give you an example, I completed part of my bachelor’s degree at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, a study trip took me to Hong Kong and China, and I did my MIB Down Under. I’ve also travelled a great deal in Central and Latin America and toured Europe and the USA.

How did you come across Apostroph and what prompted you to stay?
Before Apostroph, language service providers weren’t at all on my radar; I kind of stumbled across the industry by accident and have somehow never left – happily, I might add! I like the agility of the industry – it’s anything but stagnant. Take the forward march of neural machine translation (NMT): it’s so exciting, I based my master’s thesis* on it at FHS St. Gallen University of Applied Sciences. But we’re also a super team, and the clients are great, too. Not forgetting the fact that Apostroph has always encouraged me.

What kind of encouragement?
I was given the opportunity to develop professionally from the very beginning. After just one year in the role of Junior Business Developer, I moved into key account management, where I gained further experience. I was then appointed Head of Sales at the beginning of this year. I have professional and HR responsibility for the KAM team, and service the largest clients. My role is challenging, varied and enriching, plus I like working closely with Apostroph’s senior management. The support I’ve received has always been tailored to my needs – I was even able to take a six-month sabbatical to complete my second master’s in Australia. Not every employer would do that, which is why I have a soft spot for Apostroph.

What do you like about languages and translation?
Communication is key to a culture – and that applies to organisations, too. The impact of poor multilingual communication is often underestimated; it can even lead to mergers and acquisitions being called off. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes.

You’re overseeing changes to Apostroph’s website. Can you tell us what we can expect?
It’s something that’s close to my marketing heart! Scheduled to go live in 2021, the new website will be fundamental to our data-driven B2B sales. Its comprehensive revision is all about the user experience: we want our clients, visitors and employees to enjoy riding our wave. One of the key aspects is clarity, so that content can be found quickly. We’ll also be showcasing our interface and technology solutions, especially as Apostroph’s services now extend far beyond pure translation. The whole thing will be wrapped up in an up-to-the-minute design that reflects our innovativeness. There’s more, but I want it to be a surprise – so you won’t get any more out of me!

Professionally, you come across as very dedicated. Aren’t you missing out on other things as a result?
Those years I was doing the consecutive master’s degree were certainly intensive – I was working four-and-a-half days a week for Apostroph at the same time. My role as Head of Sales is demanding, but I’m able to enjoy my free time more easily. Although I love living in Zurich, I also need nature: I go hiking and cycling, I snowboard, and in the autumn I’m a keen surfer – it’s my way of maintaining a physical and mental balance.

What do you read in bed, and what’s your favourite listening on a relaxing Sunday morning?
I’m currently reading Kai Strittmatter’s We Have Been Harmonised: Life in China’s Surveillance State about China’s digital totalitarianism. It makes crime novels read like bedtime stories in comparison! And Ziggy Alberts is top of my Spotify playlist right now: his music is like a gentle sea breeze.

Thanks for the interview, Larissa.

* Editor’s note: Larissa’s thesis explores the impact of artificial intelligence on the language services industry. It earned her an award for the best thesis in 2019, co-sponsored by FHS St. Gallen and the business organisation WISG St. Gallen.

Larissa Stalder: “Travelling’s like a job: it’s about being open to new things, broadening your experience and, of course, enjoying yourself.”