Women of Distinction: Marina Ilari

Milwaukee Magazine is proud to present this special section featuring some of our city’s most accomplished female leaders.

Photo by Linda Smallpage, Boutique Photographer


Fifteen years ago, Marina Ilari started Terra Translations alongside her mother. “As a young woman-owned and minority-owned business, I felt insecure about my background,” she says. “I felt alone at CEO roundtables, because the great majority of executives in the language industry are males. But these characteristics make me who I am and set me apart from the crowd.” Using her uniqueness as a selling point, Ilari grew the company into a major force that collaborates with a team of over 1,000 translation professionals across the globe. She gives back to women in business through organizations such as Girlboss, Enterprising Women, and Women in Localization, a mentorship group that supports women in the translation industry.

“Time has shown us that if we support our employees and our community with a broader focus than just profits, our company continues to grow stronger”


– Marina Ilari

Founder and CEO, Terra Translations




What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your business?

Leverage your uniqueness. When I first started out, I thought “fitting in” with what other companies were doing would be a safer way to promote my business. But through the years I started realizing that you shouldn’t follow or replicate other companies’ strengths. You need to look internally to find your unique selling proposition. There has never been nor will there ever be another person exactly like you, and this uniqueness – your talents, thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and values – cannot be duplicated. 

Where do you want your company to be in five years?

I would like Terra Translations to be the number one translation service company in Latin America in five years. According to a study by Common Sense Advisory, a research group in the translation industry, our company currently ranks number five. What drives this wish to become number one in Latin America is that there is very little diversity in top management in the industry as a whole. From the top twenty largest language service companies, there is only one female CEO. It’s important to bring more diversity to leadership roles in the industry, and I would like to be the person that brings that diversity to the Latin American region, where the current largest language service company is, once again, led by a man.

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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