Tea break with Luise Mugrauer, Head of Vendor Management & Interpreting

Luise oversees Apostroph Switzerland’s large network of freelancers. The qualified translator is originally from Berlin and studied in Munich and Manchester. Outside of the office, she is primarily kept busy by her eight-month-old daughter, but when she gets the time, she enjoys doing yoga, listens to rock’n’roll or reads Darm mit Charme.

Portrait of a woman

Where are you from? What are your roots?

You could say that I am of mixed European stock. I was born in Berlin, seven years before the fall of the Berlin wall – on the wrong side of the wall – to parents who had German, Czech and Austrian roots. The name Mugrauer, for example, comes from the Salzburg region. After the fall of the wall, I moved with part of my family and Bavaria became our stomping ground.

What do you particularly remember about your life in East Berlin? Was your move to Bavaria a culture shock?

I was little back then of course, but I remember that everything was brown in the East – after all, coal was used to heat everything. When you crossed over into West Berlin, it was like stepping out of a black-and- white film into colour: everything was so vibrant! But moving to Bavaria really was a culture shock. The air and nature there were much more beautiful than in Berlin, of course. However, I was used to the big city and I had difficulty in the beginning with the dialect.

But then you still went on to complete your studies in Bavaria ...

Yes, I managed to endure Munich for quite a while. With a small detour through half a degree in sociology, I ultimately completed a translation degree for English and French at the Sprachen und Dolmetscher Insitut (SDI Munich). That’s right: that’s really what the institute is called. And despite what German speakers see as an obvious aversion to hyphens, I received an excellent education there. But after that I wanted desperately to get out of Germany.

So you went out into the big wide world?

Yes, I moved to Manchester (UK) to do a master’s degree in translation. I immediately fell in love with the Mancunians, their dry humour, and how they are somewhat rough around the edges. Then I moved to Cologne for six months for an internship in the language services department of Deutsche Telekom.

How did you make your way to Switzerland?

I fell in love with a Swiss person with Japanese roots, who ultimately brought me to Switzerland in 2011. This is where I’ve stayed, and besides the mountains in Graubünden and the wonderful Lake Lucerne, I have experienced pretty much all the professional prospects the language industry has to offer, initially as a freelance translator directly after my studies. Sometime later, through contacts in Cologne, I got a job in project management at CLS Communication, which was one of the largest LSPs in Switzerland at the time. I subsequently transferred within the company to London and into vendor management. That was a real stroke of luck, and I learned a lot in both roles: good time management, mental flexibility and diplomacy with challenging clients. I was also able to build up a large network. And I still benefit from all of this today as Head of Vendor Management at Apostroph Switzerland.

How did you come across Apostroph and what prompted you to stay?

Actually, Patricia Kamer, the Head of Operations of Apostroph Zurich at the time, poached me from Allianz Suisse. 😉 I had since returned to Switzerland after time in London and was working in the translation department of Allianz. This enabled me to gain valuable experience from a client perspective. When Patricia recommended I take over and build up vendor management at Apostroph, that was a chance I couldn’t let slip away. Yes, and now, almost seven years later, I’m still here!

So you still enjoy working at Apostroph?

My role has constantly changed and evolved over the years. I have never actually had the exact same tasks for two years in a row. And I still have fun working together with the Apostroph teams at the various locations. Even though we all have the same processes and standards, each location has its own identity. That makes it so exciting. Apostroph is also a company that has expanded tremendously over the years and the Vendor Management team has grown by two new colleagues: my good fairies Melis and Sabina. I am very grateful to Apostroph for the many opportunities it has provided me in my further development and for always being supportive – professionally and privately.

What do you like about languages and translation?

I could offer a great many platitudes on the subject, but what fascinated me even as a child was how through a foreign language – take Bavarian for example 😉 – you could immerse yourself in another culture and develop a different awareness of life. Italian is also a great example. I remember how as a child, when I was on holiday in Tuscany without any knowledge of the language, I would pretend as though I spoke Italian and would gesture around wildly. Much to my family’s amusement.

Another special feature of language is that it creates reality. And this also applies to multi-lingual communication like what we make possible at Apostroph. That is just one reason why I think gender-neutral language in German and increasing the visibility of different genders in language is important. Even though I get that the language used can be annoying.

What do you most look forward to doing when you wake up in the morning?

There are lots of things! I love analysing information from our freelancer database or thinking about possible improvements for our myFREELANCE order portal that would make work easier for our linguists. Of course I also really enjoy finding the perfect freelancer in our database for a tricky task and thus helping out project management. Last, but definitely not least, the exchange I have with translators is always very rewarding. Sometimes it’s something positive: the birth of a baby, a freelancer completing further education or positive feedback from a satisfied client. And sometimes it’s less so: the death of a loved one or a client complaint. But all of that is a part of my job. In the end, it’s a “people business”, with everything that entails.

You know what they say about all work and no play. What do you like doing in your private life and in your free time?

I became the mother to one daughter in the summer of 2022. Clara just turned eight months, so free time to myself is currently at a minimum. But the good thing is that she makes me switch off immediately in the evening. When she looks at me with her big blue eyes and nearly toothless grin, my heart bursts. If I’m not changing nappies, making baby food or playing the keyboard with Clara, I really enjoy Viniyoga or looking for the latest arthouse film.

Do you have any film picks for us?

I recently watched the Triangle of Sadness by Ruben Östlund, a satirical black comedy about the world of the rich and famous. What also really stuck in my mind was The Menu by Mark Mylod, who lampoons high-end gastronomy in this horror comedy.

What are your next personal projects?

A personal long-term goal I have been dreaming of is to make Japanese-inspired ceramics. Right now, that’s a long way off. But I have already planned taking my next class at the potter’s wheel and I have several Raku bowls and Hagi ceramics in my cabinet for inspiration.😉

What book is on your bedside table and what’s your favourite music to listen to on a relaxing Sunday morning?

My current Sunday reading, if I get a few moments of peace and quiet: Darm mit Charme (Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ). Seldom have I learned so much about such an important organ of the body in such an entertaining way. When it comes to music, for whatever reason I’m in a rock’n’roll phase right now and enjoy listening to Bill Haley, Chuck Berry or the early Beatles tracks on repeat. It just puts me in a good mood right away.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Would you like to read more about the people of Apostroph? 

Send us an email to freelance@apostrophgroup.ch.

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