OLGA LAFAYETTE ‘98
Olga Lafayette remembers loving language so much as a 6-year-old in Siberia that she concocted a foreign language. Later, she begged her sister, who was learning German, to teach it to her.
Today the 39-year-old woman, who speaks Russian, English, French, and Japanese, has channeled that passion into managing her now eight-years-old translation services firm, Language Fusion. The $1.5 million Vancouver, Washington, company is providing translations in 150 languages around the world, mostly through the Internet.
Last year, Language Fusion made the Portland Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies list (ranked 12th), and Lafayette was named to its “Forty Under 40” list. She had just landed a multi-year translation contract with the White House. This year Lafayette signed a five-year federal contract that will allow any federal agency to hire her company’s services quickly and easily. Language Fusion is able to take advantage of the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.
Lafayette says her company sets itself apart by smart application of technology. Thanks to a web-based management system built by her husband, David, a 1999 PSU alumnus, clients can regularly check the progress of their project online. The system also allows online scheduling of translation jobs without cost-intensive scheduling by phone.
Lafayette credits PSU for setting a strong foundation for her life in the U.S. “It’s really easy to become disoriented in a completely different environment. In my case it was coming from Siberia to the U.S., leaving all my family behind,” she says. “PSU was a perfect choice.”