Rendezvous with Ilona Bena

Ilona works in Lausanne’s old town quarter, just a few steps from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Lausanne, construction of which began in the 12th century. Though perhaps not as well-known as the eponymous cathedral in Ilona’s home town of Strasbourg, it’s nevertheless the most important Gothic building in Switzerland.

Apostroph team Ilona Bena

Anyone growing up in the Alsatian metropolis recognises the value of language and culture: Ilona Bena speaks French, Italian, German and English. She is currently perfecting her German with colleagues from Bern, Lucerne and Zurich, among others. Language, for her, is much more than communication: it opens doors to new worlds, cultures, ways of thinking and values. “Linguists are bridge builders. I can’t imagine a better job!”

Ilona Bena is a translations project manager in Apostroph’s office in the French-speaking Romandie. It is her job to bring all the various strands together, fielding enquiries from clients and analysing the aims of the proposed projects: careful listening to understand the client’s needs is key, she says. The next step is to bring the language specialists into play and agree the time frame for the project. Apostroph’s quote lands in the client’s inbox shortly afterwards. “When we start work on the assignment, I deal with any technical issues, ensure we’re using the right technologies and clarify any queries.” Once the document’s translated, she carries out a quality control review and applies any necessary tweaks to ensure the client’s specifications are met: “I stay close to the customers and the project – right up to the end.”

For her, no job is too complicated – on the contrary: she and her team view challenging projects as an opportunity to show what they’re capable of. The more complex the task, the greater the importance of client relations. “That’s the part of the job I love. You get to establish a partnership of trust over the years. Our clients are well aware that they can rely on us; there’s nothing we can’t do!” she declares proudly. Linguist, bridge builder, communicator – that’s her in a nutshell.

Ilona Bena holds a master’s degree in translation. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Strasbourg, she moved to Milan and Brittany for her master’s studies. This was followed by three years’ project management in the language services sector in Paris. Asked whether she has a role model in terms of her career, she immediately answers: “Someone I work alongside every day: Jessica Krüger, our office manager and Head of Operations at Apostroph Lausanne. She gives me wings and encourages me to go beyond my limits.”

Ilona considers Switzerland's linguistic diversity to be a real boon; it makes for a unique as well as fascinating country. As someone who prefers an urban setting, she lives with her husband in Geneva, where she roams the museums of Calvin’s city, rarely misses a new cinema release and finds new gems in the bookshops every week. That said, she’s also drawn to the great outdoors now and then: “Sundays are reserved for walking.”

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