Congratulations to the winner of the Asia Institute Graduate Community Award 2016

The Asia Institute Graduate Community Award was established to acknowledge the achievements of graduates who have contributed to the Asia Institute's mission - promoting Asia literacy and connecting Asia and Australia - and who have demonstrated excellence in the University of Melbourne graduate attributes of working and contributing as active global citizens. The award recognises graduates whose service and contributions have made a significant difference, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

This year's winner is Mr Johannis Bayer, Managing Director and Chief Interpreter, Interlect Interpreters. Mr Bayer was awarded for his outstanding achievements in the field of conference interpreting. The Asia Institute wishes him all the best for his continued work, and we hope to hear more about his future accomplishments.

Mr Johannis Bayer

Mr Johannis Bayer

Mr Johannis Bayer undertook his undergraduate studies at the Asia Institute from 2006 to 2008. After his graduation, he embarked on the path that led to his current career as a conference interpreter.

Over the few past years, this has taken him to the meeting rooms of heads of state and government, including the Presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament during their meetings with the Chinese President and Premier. Such meetings require the interpreter to handle the complex challenges posed by the subtle nuances of diplomatic language and the knowledge of global affairs needed. His work has also allowed him to interpret for international companies such as Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, Bain Capital, Rothschild, Aon and Huawei, and participate in negotiations on mergers and acquisitions, where the languages of law, finance, accounting and specific business segments come together.

Working as a conference interpreter for the European Institutions, international organisations, government ministries and multinational companies is immensely stressful, but also highly enriching and rewarding. Johannis' assignments have taken him to the US, Europe and Asia - in addition to the many work trips to China's megacities - allowing him to mediate between Chinese, European and North American perspectives in Chinese, English and German.

But conference interpreting also comes with significant responsibility: In today's globalised world, where China and other countries are moving closer together, professional language services are increasingly vital to global success. Seemingly simple words like "isolation" or "small and medium-sized businesses" may carry a different connotation in Chinese. Sensitive meetings require a linguistic and cultural balancing act.

However, seeing attendees at a conference or meeting actively take notes, nod and raise questions on the basis of one's interpretation, or reading about a successful partnership agreement in the news can give an interpreter an immense feeling of accomplishment. This stems from the knowledge that one has just facilitated cross-cultural exchange under challenging circumstances, and perhaps made a small contribution to someone's global success.

In 2015, Johannis founded Interlect Interpreters in Shanghai, a high-end interpreting service provider for Chinese, English and German. The company brings together a select team of top-level conference interpreters that provides services to both private and public sector clients, covering fields such as politics, finance, automotive, intellectual property, law, renewable energy, telecommunications and education.