Michelle Menard graduated from the Belk College in 1997 in International Business and French. While a student, Menard launched Choice Translating, which offers translation, software and website localization, desktop publishing, voice-overs and interpreting services in 200 languages for a number of industry, government and nonprofit sectors. She is a member of the Belk College of Business Board of Advisors.
What kinds of opportunities did you have at UNC Charlotte?
After responding to a posting in the Belk College, I enjoyed being an intern at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. That wonderful experience led to a temporary paid position there. The contacts and friendships made at the Charlotte Chamber led to a number of opportunities within the City. All of that started from the Belk College.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
I originally went away, but returned to UNC Charlotte because of the convenience of a wide course offering in and outside of the Belk College and the job opportunities Charlotte has to offer. We are fortunate to be in a thriving region, and the partnerships between the university and organizations within our region are growing stronger.
What was your first job after graduation?
As I was getting Choice Translating off the ground, I worked at IMEX Management as an international rep for trade shows in Southeast Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. It was a wonderful experience, and I learned a lot about international business through my work there, including business travel to Chicago and Bahrain.
What led you to this career field?
My mother is French and always did freelance translation work. I enjoyed helping her on projects and had taken translation courses at UNC Charlotte. A friend suggested I start my own business, specifically a translation company. I had not thought of that previously, and when I heard his suggestion I had that “aha” moment with a flash of pictures in my mind and the certainty that this was what I was meant to do. From that moment on, I focused my energy on launching and then growing the business. Later, one of my favorite clients became my best friend, our COO and my husband. In 2012, we launched a sister company, TravelingBrand, an international market research and brand name validation company. I’m proud of our progress and the positive impact our team makes every day, giving all people a voice through the services we provide.
Tell us about Choice Translating’s growth.
I started Choice Translating with very little capital. Today, we’re excited to be celebrating our 20th anniversary, thanks to our wonderful team and partners who allow us to have our dream jobs and change the world, one word at a time. We are often celebrating milestones, including being recognized as one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s Best Places to Work. We are focused on a number of exciting initiatives and always looking for talented people in all disciplines to join our team. We just hired two 49ers, and I’d love to hire more.
How many languages do you speak?
Three; Besides English, I’m fluent in French thanks to my mother and conversational in Spanish.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
The importance of deadlines and working with people to achieve your goals. Also, that learning continues after graduation.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
There are so many parallels between your career after graduation and your “career” as a student. Treasure your unique access to a wonderful network and industry experts who want to share their knowledge and help you be successful. Merci bien !