Rendezvous with Josepha Zimmerer

Madame Rapport Annuel

Translating an annual report is a complex matter – just complex enough for somebody like Josepha Zimmerer. The 30-year-old is a project manager at Apostroph Luzern and a specialist in annual reports. Josepha is a qualified dance teacher. And there was probably only one thing that could top her joy of dancing: language. Not many have studied it in so many facets. French, for example. Or Chinese. Master’s in Romance languages. English, of course. Oh yes, and Occitan. Yes, you read it correctly!

Project Manager Josepha Zimmerer

She has been in charge of the website project of a major Swiss insurance company for one year and coordinates the teams of copywriters, editors and translators. She starts the preparations for web projects, customer magazines and multilingual annual reports of corporate clients, mainly from the financial services, insurance, real estate, health and tourism sectors.

During this process, she advises her corporate clients and finds solutions to smoothly complete multilingual annual reports. “I like to manage large-scale projects,” says Josepha Zimmerer. No, it shouldn’t be too simple, thank you very much. In her spare time, too, her attitude is: do it right or don’t do it at all. Hiking? Enjoyable. Mountain hike or climbing? Better still – and at the end, your legs must be really tired from having completed as many metres of climbing as possible. The project manager’s home is located on the shores of Lake Zurich. Josepha recently completed a circular walk around the lake, meticulously planned, in 10 stages.

Josepha, how did you end up in the world of languages?

This possibility already emerged for me when I was still at school. I noticed that languages open doors to new unknown worlds. When you learn a language, you always also learn something about the world and life. During my studies, I mainly dealt with French and also completed a semester abroad at the Université Paris-Sorbonne.

The Sorbonne in Paris is an institution with worldwide appeal – is it as elitist as one would imagine? You also studied at the time-honoured Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

 I did not perceive it as elitist in either Munich or Paris. But, of course, I was thrilled when I held the document which stated that the Sorbonne had approved my semester abroad in my hands. There are now many modern buildings at the Sorbonne. Some of my courses, however, took place in the historic main building – I have pictures of them etched in my mind. I was really amazed at the University Ball in Munich when the doors of the great hall opened. That is another moment I will never forget.

Besides French and your mother tongue German, what other languages do you speak?

During my studies, I studied classical languages such as Latin or Old French. I learned Chinese as a minor subject, and I speak English and can speak a bit of Italian. I also learned the basic principles of the minority language Occitan.

Occitan? Please enlighten us: who speaks that language except for Asterix and Obelix?

 Even though, unfortunately, fewer and fewer people speak Occitan – a few more than just the two Gallic heroes do! For my master’s degree, I took courses on minority Romance languages. In the South of France, these languages are taught at private schools called Calandretas.

You are a qualified dance teacher, a linguistic genius and now work at Apostroph as a project manager – how did it happen?

In 2018, during my master’s degree, I completed an eight-month placement at Apostroph Zurich. It was a really good experience. The work made me very happy. So after my studies, I wanted to return to Apostroph. And, as luck would have it, they were looking for a project manager in Lucerne – and I was offered the job.

Now you are an expert in multilingual annual reports – how did you get involved in this field?

My start at Apostroph coincided with the annual report season. It was great that I was entrusted with this task. I jumped in at the deep end and immediately enjoyed the subject. I remember well when, after three weeks at Apostroph, a client called me who was interested in having his annual report translated. During the consultation, I demonstrated all my knowledge acquired up to then and was able to convince him of our capabilities. Somehow everything just clicked into place from the very beginning. By the way, to this day I am still really happy when we receive a request from this client to translate his annual report.

What is the challenge associated with translating annual reports?

Mainly the timing. The translation is quite far towards the end of the process, so it is time-critical. Even with very careful planning, it is not uncommon for our companies to announce delays or short-term changes. This is in the nature of the beast because many teams in the companies are involved in the content. For us, this means we need to be work flexibly and at the same time highly accurately. From January to March, our teams specialising in annual reports are run off their feet. We know that given our capacities during this period, it is a bit like playing Tetris – but we always get there in the end (laughs).

How do you proceed with the translation of an annual report?

First, we create alignments of the previous year’s annual report and load the contents into the database. The wording can be adopted directly thanks to the alignment. As a rule, there is not so much new text to translate in the financial sector, so the translation process usually progresses quickly. So our companies benefit from time and therefore budget savings.

Unfortunately, new customers do not have this advantage, do they? 

Oh yes they do! New customers can submit their translated annual report from the previous year, provided that the translation quality is satisfactory. We can also carry out an alignment of it in our database and the use the text segments as a reference for the corporate wording. An important reference for the financial section is the company’s accounting standard: IFRS, SWISS GAP FER, etc. We have specialist translation teams for all standards. This means that our technology also helps to increase efficiency for new customers. If the new company was not satisfied with a previous translation, we have test translations performed by different language teams after consultation with the customer. Then the customer looks at the versions and decides which translation style best suits the company. This also determines the team of regular translators. In this way, we are also optimally prepared to start working for new companies.

Can you explain in one sentence why Apostroph is the first choice for multilingual annual reports?

No problem. We have state-of-the-art technology with intelligent interfaces to standardise and efficiently handle the entire process, and we have the specialist annual report knowledge and experience, as well as highly educated language professionals, in order to ensure that every company has a customised solution which makes it possible to guarantee a smooth process and the highest quality of translation.

Thank you for the conversation and this pretty long sentence.

You’re welcome (laughs).

Let’s talk about how we can best implement your annual report in all required language versions.

Together we will find the best solution. It’s a promise!
Nadia Gaille
Head of Customer Success
Apostroph Team Nadia Gaille

Would you like to receive regular updates on new customer projects and news about Apostroph?

In our newsletter, we will surprise you with articles that are as informative as they are entertaining. We would be delighted to welcome you to our community of 20,000 newsletter followers.

Achieving goals together

  • Your projects in the best hands

    We work with single points of contact. As a result, you will be looked after by a highly experienced contact person who takes your needs into account and keeps you up to date at all times.
  • We speak your language

    Depending on the project, we put together specific teams of internal and external experts who are well versed in your corporate language.
  • Language intelligence

    Our in-house IT and development department ensures the clever use of technologies so that man and machine are in harmony in an intelligent way.