Translation entrepreneur Huiping Zhang making her mark

Wintranslation founder is recognized for her work in Indigenous translation

Like many of Canada’s newcomers, Huiping Zhang’s journey to success is rooted in humble beginnings. Zhang arrived in Canada from Hengyang, China, in 1994 to complete her master’s in communications at the University of Windsor. Fresh out of grad school, she launched Wintranslation from her one-bedroom apartment with just $3,000 dollars in her bank account.

Two whirlwind decades later and Wintranslation has blossomed into a multi-million dollar enterprise, specializing in tech and Indigenous translation for clients in the semiconductor, mining, oil and gas, and government sector.

Award-winning entrepreneur Huiping Zhang

Wintranslation’s Huiping Zhang (shown with her parents) wins Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year in Ottawa.

Zhang has received many accolades for her successes including making Ottawa’s Top Forty under 40 list. Most recently, Zhang was named by the City of Ottawa as Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year — an annual award presented to entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to the economy in the National Capital Region.

The award selection committee looks for recipients who not only bring in an impressive revenue, but who show a commitment to giving back to their community through mentorship of up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Zhang’s innovative approach and commitment to employee selection, retention and professional development were some of the key highlights of her award nomination.

Zhang says her experience being an immigrant has been an unexpected asset in helping her build her service offerings, specifically in the fledgling practice of Indigenous language translation.

Challenges of Indigenous language translation

“One of the reasons it’s so hard to offer Indigenous translation is because it is so different from translation in languages like French,” says Zhang. “Most Indigenous languages have limited number of fluent speakers and translators often live in very remote communities with a lack of reliable access to the internet and many other amenities that many of us take for granted. To be able to offer translation into the Indigenous language meant that Wintranslation had to be highly adaptable — to the unique linguistic, cultural and technical challenges. It is not entirely different from the challenges I face as an immigrant — I need to be highly adaptable to find my footing in a new country.”

Zhang’s foray into the world of Indigenous translation began when a key client expressed a need for finding reliable translators in those languages. Zhang has used her own experience of adaptability and empathy to recruit and train talent. Now, just five years later, Wintranslation employs more than one hundred Indigenous translators specializing in 40 of Canada’s 60 Indigenous languages.

Zhang’s personal philosophy is that happy employees and suppliers lead to happy customers.

“We try to make it easy for translators to collaborate with us. We do everything to establish trust with the translators we work with: paying them fast, providing software licences for specific projects, and preparing files for translation so translators don’t have to worry about the advanced formatting requirements. Translators know that they can count on us so they deliver for us even under rush or technically challenging situations.”

Fresh off the heels of her most recent award, Zhang is inspired to build on the strengths of being an immigrant entrepreneur, which means being able to recognize talent from all backgrounds. Her office team represents the diversity makeup of our country with employees from China, Cameroon, Romania, Morocco, Pakistan and most recently from the Arctic North of Nunavut.