We start this month by introducing someone who does not like to be in the spotlight. « I don’t like to draw attention to myself. I’d rather work in the background », she says. It is in plain sight that we did not humour her. What is not in plain sight so far, but will be soon, is who this remarkable person we are talking about in this post actually is.
If we picture ourselves as parts or organs that make the TETRAEPIK-body move, then Paula is unquestionably the heart. Can you imagine how precise this heart needs to be to keep beating at the right pace and make TETRAEPIK wake up every day with the energy and strength needed to rise to the occasion?
Let’s find out…
Full name: Paula da Silva Dias Lopes
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Academic degree: Degree in Modern Languages and Literatures, English and German Studies, Post-graduation in Translation, at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon; Translation Traineeship at the European Parliament in Luxemburg
The poor living conditions her parents had to face in their homeland led them, as so many other Portuguese, to look elsewhere for a better life. They settled in Hamburg, Germany, where Paula was born and where she started to discover the world during the first 19 years of her life.
When Paula decided to move to Portugal, she felt a culture shock which made languages play a major role in her life. Discovering the world had always been a synonym of studying languages, reading books and interpreting people, in order « to have access to all the information I considered important, to fit in, to be understood », she said.
There is one adventure Paula remembers with great emotion: the first time she saw a concert by her favourite artist, Bryan Adams, in Hamburg. Her passion for languages manifested itself even in the little things of everyday life, since, at the age of 15, she was « using a dictionary in order to understand every word of Bryan Adams’ lyrics! ».
Although considered the « emotional organ » of the company, she is ruthless as far as grammar is concerned, – so much so that she is called a « grammar Nazi ». « I love grammar and I like to shed some light on incorrect declensions and conjugations or other grammatical errors! ». It is common knowledge that Paula’s role is to share: share knowledge, share thoughts and ideas, share funny stories (usually involving Cookie, her dog, and her cats Fluffy and Speedy) and share loving and inspiring Skype messages with her team. All that just because, as she says, « the right word at the right moment can move mountains on a personal, spiritual and professional level ».
TETRAEPIK: – Tell us what you could not live without in your daily life.
Paula: Smiles and laughter. Humour is essential. Laughing at ourselves, with the help of others!
For Paula, languages are a « work in progress »: « as they are living, they are constantly changing, there are always new words, so I’m constantly learning! ». In Paula’s view, the same applies to human beings and their creations, and this is a certainty that led her to TETRAEPIK. Being a persistent self-made woman, who does not give up, Paula has had, since her teenage years, the desire to have her own professional endeavour. Thus, at the age of 26, TETRAEPIK came to life. Not giving up also means that she cannot stand the idea of « not reading a book (or watching a film) till the end ». In that sense, we hope to follow her example and stay tuned with excitement to find out what the next chapters of the story of TETRAEPIK have in store for us.
TETRAEPIK: How did TETRAEPIK come to life?
Paula: It seemed impossible at first, but we believed in it. We were very young and inexperienced, and lacked a lot of knowledge in most areas, but we were persistent and learned along the way. We never refused to take things in our own hands, no matter if it meant carrying desks, interviewing people, translating, reviewing, or interpreting. We still do what is needed, when it is needed. I often say that TETRAEPIK was my first child. I raised it with immense love, a great deal of dedication, many sleepless nights and lost holidays, a tremendous sense of responsibility, more than enough headaches, but above all this, a lot of pride.
Besides being a managing partner, Paula is also Operations Director, which actually means that she runs the team, controls dozens of projects with different deadlines and instructions, while chipping in hundreds of hours as translator, reviewer and trainer. « I don’t shy away from challenges, although sometimes it would make my life easier to do so », she says. Paula always tries to bring into her daily life and tasks the affection she feels for her mother tongue, might it be a translation for a client located on the other side of the globe or a more personal and fulfilling on-site training session.
As a passionate advocate of harmony and averse to conflicts and quarrels, Paula believes that everything should be built on respect, achievement and an environment that suits all people involved, where everybody feels happy. « My team is made up of competent, effective, well-trained employees, and on top of all that, they also have a good heart, thrive as a team and love what they do. They are part of a smooth-running engine that keeps TETRAEPIK moving forward ». This is actually the reason why Paula feels at peace. The same pride she feels about her team extends to the other protagonists of her plot: « I’m very lucky to have managing partners who know how to handle things I don’t know ».
Paula truly believes that each of us has the duty to leave this world a little better than they found it. That is actually the reason why Paula tries to flood us every day with contagious good energy and smiles that fill our hearts. As her son usually says « you never know, but you can always feel it ».