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Alumni Profiles

Jeanette Driscoll, MBA '87

Jeanette Driscoll, MBA '87:
One Message, Many Voices

As the immigrant population in the United States and the reach of American companies into Asian and European markets continues to grow, so too has the demand for high-quality translation services. Few understand this more keenly than Jeanette Driscoll, founder and client service director of Savvy Market Extend (SME), a multilingual marketing services firm based in Southern New Jersey.

A thirty-year marketing veteran and a long-time employee of A.C. Nielsen, Driscoll founded SME in 1997 after identifying a need for niche translation services focused exclusively on translating marketing materials – everything from company brochures and newsletters, to Yellow Book ads, to public health posters.

"There's a lot of software you can you use for translation," Driscoll says, citing Babel Fish as the most popular. But, she's quick to point out, these services only give you the gist of a text's meaning and leave large chunks untranslated.

"You really need a human touch," she says, especially the expert skill of copywriters with a sense of the essential meaning of a text and an awareness of culture- and language-specific communication pitfalls and challenges.

Because it can draw upon a large pool of translators, SME is able to offer translations in 100 different languages and to match clients with translators who have very specific specialties–for example, Chinese translations with a focus on engineering vocabulary, Spanish translations geared for audiences with a ninth-grade education, fluency in Swahili and Icelandic. Many companies also come to her to ensure that the translated text on their products is detailed and clear enough to protect them from legal liability.

"They're sending out something in a foreign language," she says. "So they need to trust you."

Pointing to just two examples of corporations' new attention to non-native English speakers – the decision of McDonald's to print their slogan, "I'm lovin' it," in ten different languages on their merchandise, and the ever-growing presence of multilingual greeting cards – Driscoll says it's an exciting time to be involved in the translation business.

"I feel I'm at the cutting edge of marketing communications and at the forefront of a major change in this country."

– Mark Rader, MFA '02