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WDS Member of the Month: Laura Keller

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Say hello to our September member of the month, Laura Keller!

Laura is all about language and has an impressive background in psycholinguistics and university teaching. A true Polyglot, she speaks 6 languages altogether including Romansh. Currently, she works as a freelance conference interpreter and a language policy consultant, additionally training other professionals in these fields.

Laura is passionate about integrity and authenticity, and she shares the WDS goals of raising awareness on mental health and women's issues in Switzerland. But don't think Laura is all work and no play! Her awesome sense of humour keeps things balanced.

Laura's journey through the world of language, tech, and women's empowerment is an inspiration. We are delighted to have her as part of our community.

I think Switzerland still has much to improve in terms of equality and harnessing women's potential -- and adequately paying them for their skills and labour. At the rate at which we are going, I don't think we'll get anywhere anytime soon if we don't make it happen ourselves. Being part of a network like WDS in which members lift each other up is a good start.

Tell us about yourself

I'm from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Constance, and have been based in Geneva for the last 18 years. I currently work as a freelance conference interpreter and as a language policy consultant and also facilitate trainings in those domains. I have a background in psycholinguistics and university-level teaching and have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into many different worlds in my capacity as a freelancer and scientific advisor.

What was your first interaction with WDS and how was it for you? I came across the WDS offer to sign up for different Google Certificates via LinkedIn.

I applied because I was interested in taking the Data Analytics Course. While I was looking for an opportunity to enhance my technical skills, I actually found a community.

What was your reason for joining WDS?

  • WDS provided me with an unexpected opportunity

  • I am looking to expand my consultancy portfolio into the digital sphere

  • I was interested in becoming part of a network of like-minded women and found exactly that

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

As a conference interpreter, languages and questions relating to multilingualism have always fascinated me. So obviously nobody bats an eye when they learn that I speak more than one language, but people are regularly surprised when they find out I speak Romansh, the fourth national language of Switzerland. It's really a matter of luck, my mom is a native Romansh speaker and so I grew up speaking it. But this has really provided me with first-hand insights into how political questions relating to language and bi- or multilingualism can be...

Is there a professional achievement that you are especially proud of?

  • Making a living as a freelancer in a competitive field and expanding my portfolio to make use of my diverse skill set.

  • Prioritizing content and values over form and prestige -- what do I want to do in my professional life, according to what values and with whom rather than what title and institution should feature on my business card.

Are there many women in your industry? Why is that or why not?

Yes, the vast majority actually. Language professions seem to draw women much more than other areas. But as in many domains, the higher up the hierarchy you go, the fewer women there are.

Which aspect of your industry might interest other women to start work in this field?

To be honest. right now there are massive worries in my industry about AI applications taking over and replacing us, but I think there is room for the actual human connection -- why not enhanced by digital tools -- that is necessary and at least for some forms of communication really irreplaceable. And that integrated approach I think is something women with a background in digital industries really bring to the table. Which future trend is the most interesting in your opinion?

AI and digitalisation. The discussion on how AI will shape the future has sent shock waves through many industries, not least the language services industry and digitalisation is already bringing up questions regarding many profound societal issues such as digital literacy and digital ethics. That is an area I am particularly interested in and hope to actively contribute to the discussion.

Want to connect with Laura? You can find her on LinkedIn. Want to find other like-minded women? Check out our forum.

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