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Spanish Translator Cyntia Ferrarese on building bridges at Intuitive

Cyntia Ferrarese

Cyntia Ferrarese started working with Intuitive on what was supposed to be a 90-day contract—and has stayed for a decade and counting. It was an easy decision to stay on, she says. “When you walk the halls—people are smiling. They’re happy to be here. I remember hearing the da Vinci system tests running and thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m working here.’” Below, Cyntia explains what’s challenging—and exciting—about translations on the frontier of healthcare; how she and her colleagues collaborated to launch ¡HOLA!, our employee resource group for Intuitive’s Hispanic and Latinx community; and what it was like to undergo her own robotic-assisted surgery. 

First, tell us about your role at Intuitive. 

I’m a translator—I convert the manufacturing training documents our technicians use in Sunnyvale, California; Mexicali, Mexico; from English to Spanish and vice versa. I see myself as a bridge between languages. Occasionally, I also help translate technical engineering terminology, to make sure it’s clear for operators who might be joining our team from retail or the service industry. 

The interesting thing about doing this work at Intuitive is that our products are so innovative, which means we need to innovate in our translations, too. When I started here in 2013, if you Googled something like the yaw-pitch movement of an instrument, for example, you probably wouldn’t have even found it in English, much less Spanish. So, I’ve collaborated with our engineers and training managers over the years to develop naming conventions and definitions. We also decide in some cases to keep certain words in English—you’ll see “wrist” rather than “muñeca” in all of our Spanish documentation, because in Spanish “muñeca” doesn’t just mean “wrist,” but also “doll.” 

What led you to join Intuitive? 

When I started working with Intuitive, it was supposed to be a three-month contract; they’d done an audit of the training content for a manufacturing line that makes the drapes for the da Vinci system and discovered that some of the updates made to the Spanish version needed to be carried back over to the English one. As I sorted through that, I started getting requests for other interpretation and translation tasks, and the team realized it would be valuable to have someone in-house—you get more consistency and also more speed, which is so important in manufacturing. So about halfway through my contract, I was offered a full-time role. 

Honestly, it didn’t take me long to decide. I’d been here long enough to start having conversations with my teammates, and I knew it was a good place to work. You see a lot of long tenures, and you also just see it when you walk the halls—people are smiling. They’re happy to be here. I also loved the product. I remember hearing the da Vinci system tests running and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m working here.” I felt, and still feel, very proud. 

I’ve always been curious about languages, so this feels like the job I’m supposed to be doing. When I was growing up in Argentina, my mom was a translator. I learned English early on, and then French and Portuguese—I’m not fluent in those anymore, but I can still sing some songs!  

You helped launch ¡HOLA!, the employee resource group (ERG) for Intuitive’s Hispanic and Latinx community. What did that look like, and why was it important to you?

We’ve always had a large Latino population in Mexicali, and it’s growing here in Sunnyvale. So, when the ERGs were starting up, we wanted to make sure we were represented. A handful of us gathered and started reaching out to other employees we knew, and we formally launched last year. We recently worked with Araba Simpson to create our visual identity, which is fabulous. It will help create awareness, and the more people who are curious and ask about us, the more we’ll grow. 

I like that we’re able to bring so many cultures together within ¡HOLA! There are lots of interesting differences when you look at the Hispanic community here or in Mexico, versus where I grew up in Argentina. It’s fascinating to explore those differences, and we also celebrate the culture we share.  

What excites you about Intuitive in this moment?  

We’ve grown so much. Nine years ago, I was the only certified translator working in manufacturing, and now there are three of us for Spanish, plus we’ve added services in German. And that’s only going to continue; we’re building hubs in Europe and Asia, and most likely we’re going to need in-house translators for an Asian language and Bulgarian soon. Eventually, I hope that our translation service reflects the truly global nature of the company Intuitive is building, and I’m excited to be a part of leading that effort to bring Intuitive’s surgical systems to as many patients as possible.  

Part of that is because I had my own Intuitive surgery—gastric sleeve—in 2019, and it was an amazing journey. It’s a major procedure, but because I know all the processes we have and the quality of the products, I had complete peace of mind. And recovery was easy—I was walking right away. I’m not at my goal weight yet, but I have lost 90 pounds and I already feel so much healthier. People tell me I look like a different person, which is motivating. I feel very proud that I get to say that I had surgery with this system made by the company where I work, and that the technology that we make is as leading-edge as when I joined.   

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Cyntia Ferrarese

Spanish Translator Cynthia Ferrarese joined Intuitive in 2013.