Grad profile

Krissy H.

Krissy uses her agility in three different languages in her work as an account executive for an international business. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“I decided to switch paths because I always wanted to do work that had something to do with my language ability.”

On any given day, Krissy uses three different languages. Born and raised in Taiwan, she grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese and improved upon her English language skills after moving to Canada over 10 years ago. If that weren’t enough, Krissy also committed herself to learning Japanese. “I asked an experienced friend who had already learned Japanese if it was possible to learn the language on my own and she said no,” she explains. “But I wanted to do it, so I did it on my own.”

This can-do attitude fuelled Krissy to leave the retail industry and pursue a new career. “I decided to switch paths because I always wanted to do work that had something to do with my language ability.” she says.

It was an ability that she recognized soon after moving to Canada. “I would translate in Mandarin to [my parents] and speak English to the people they were talking to,” she says. “I realized I could be good at this.”

The Mandarin Chinese/English Interpretation and Translation Diploma program at SFU Continuing Studies enabled Krissy to integrate her passion into a career. “It was very well-structured,” Krissy says. “I really enjoyed the field trips. We got to go to different places…and learn industry vocabulary.”

Through the program, Krissy was exposed to a professional approach to interpretation and translation that had been missing from her previous experience—an approach that proved to be both challenging and rewarding. “I would have never thought it would be that hard if I didn’t go on those field trips,” she says. “If you decide to take [the program], you’ve got to be committed. It’s hard core, but I also learned a lot from it.”

Now, armed with the professional training to accompany her natural capacity for language, Krissy works as an account executive for a Japanese distribution company that sells health, beauty and household products in North America. She uses her interpretation and translation skills to communicate in all three languages with Japanese manufacturers, colleagues in her head office and her diverse Vancouver clientele. “I really enjoy it a lot,” she says. “I like the fast pace. It feels good after translating for a session—I can’t express that feeling, but it just feels good.”

“I decided to switch paths because I always wanted to do work that had something to do with my language ability.”

More about Krissy

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I watch Japanese dramas and on weekends I like to go outside and go for walks. 

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

“Just because it is, doesn’t mean it should be.” I’m always the rebel. I like to break the rules.

Do you have a favourite movie?

I really like the Studio Ghibli series. They are Japan's answer to Disney. Their main characters are always women and the stories are about strong women. They have great messages. 

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Outgoing, strong and articulate.