‘I have already lost my heart to rugby and GAA’
Six new arrivals tell us why they came to Ireland and the challenges - and opportunities - they’ve since discovered.
Roni Tuominen, head of retail, JYSK Ireland
Head of retail, JYSK Ireland
Came from: Finland
Why Ireland? A career opportunity that gave me a chance to be part of establishing a new country and team for JYSK. Having a long history of successfully managing retail operations, I had been looking to broaden my knowledge by getting involved with other parts of the retail business.
I had little preconceptions about Ireland or Irish people. I had never visited Ireland but I knew that Ireland had recovered from a hard economic depression over the past decade and during that recovery managed to convince many well-known companies to bring their European headquarters to Ireland. So, in that sense, I did expect Irish people to be headstrong and to be a healthy society with a rich history and lots of interesting stories to be heard. Six months after my move I can easily say I was not wrong with my expectations.
I would say opportunities are similar here in Ireland and in Finland. There is a challenge in retail to encourage well-educated and highly-skilled people to join our organisations so it’s crucial that we provide them a good place to work and plenty of opportunities. This is something that JYSK is great at - there’s always career opportunity and room for advancement.
I have had the privilege of working in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and now Ireland so I have experienced many different professional cultures. Through that experience I have learned to recognise and respect the variety that cultural differences bring when working in multinational companies.
The biggest difference I have learned to respect in Irish culture so far has been the fact that people are more spontaneous by nature and show their emotions whereas we Finns are pretty reluctant to do that. I have found doing business with Irish people relatively easy - we seem to share the “get down to business” attitude. In Finland we have a very decisive “quick deal” mentality which I’m hoping I can encourage with some of our Irish suppliers.
The challenges: I didn’t think moving permanently to another country would happen overnight but I had not anticipated that it would take almost four months to have everything sorted - from getting a PPS number, bank accounts and accommodation organised. It was a bit eye-opening when I learned that all of these things were reliant on each other. I would say some serious effort and the help of local friendly people is needed and luckily Irish people are really helpful.
When not working sport has always played an important role in my life so finding a Crossfit gym was one of the first things I did when I got settled. I have already totally lost my heart to rugby and GAA. And it is not just the new sports themselves that are interesting for me but the local communities and the supporters behind them that is truly something I have not experienced before.
Product designer, Intercom
Came from: Russia
Why Ireland? The job opportunity. It’s been a while since I started thinking about working somewhere outside Russia and Intercom happened to be one of the companies I really wanted to join. Intercom is quite famous, especially in the IT field.
More opportunities here: We have rather different prices, expenses, taxes, and, therefore, salaries. It even depends on the particular city back home. In Moscow, where I lived for the last three years, prices are roughly twice as high, as, say, Saint Petersburg and therefore the same goes for salaries.
I’d say there are definitely more interesting job opportunities here. For me it’s not about salary or a particular job opportunity, it’s more about being on an ‘international level’ - understanding what it means to be a professional not only in your home country but in general. For me, Intercom is the place where I can see that international level of quality and skills.
The challenges: There is, of course some hassle in moving to set up a new life in a new country - visas, work permits, accommodation… this all takes time and nerve but is something you deal with and then forget in time. As for social connections, this also requires time and investment but it’s definitely not impossible. People here are rather more open than in my home country. But even if you can’t make new friends that easily you’re never left completely alone - things like the internet, phone, Skype, messaging and so on allow you to stay connected with family and friends back home.
When I’m not working: The thing I love about Ireland and particularly Dublin is that you can get almost everywhere on foot. The day I arrived I began a long walk - rambling around, looking and thinking. That’s what I do in my spare time and it’s something I’ll hopefully never get bored by.
Cloud support engineer, e-commerce
Came from: Brazil
Why Ireland? I heard that Ireland was one of the biggest tech hubs in the world. Having received a job offer from one of the major IT companies, I started researching more about the country and when I compared it with the current scenario of my native Brazil, I realised that moving would be great for me both personally and professionally.
What I knew about Ireland: I spent some holidays in Lisbon a couple of years ago and my impression about European countries was a good one. I believe that, culturally speaking, at least in Brazil, there is a sense that European countries are really good places to live: safety, economics and culture are always presented as major positive points. That being said, I was not so much aware of Ireland. I knew a little bit about the history and the relationship with the UK in the past. My impression was that the country was a very wealthy, safe and friendly place to live. So far, my impressions have been generally correct.
Better opportunities here: I have the impression that here in Ireland jobs are usually well paid and the professional is well-respected and valuable to companies. There are a lot of job opportunities - from part-time jobs to full-time roles. Some companies are sponsoring visas and the process for workers to move to Ireland - this is not common in Brazil.
Regarding salaries, I can see that here there is “equality”. In Brazil, we have problems like the disparity of wages for different types of jobs, and not all people can really live a good life with their salaries. Here, I have the impression that the professional is generally more well-paid and can have a decent life even with the lower paid roles.
My biggest difficulty was to find a place to rent and live. The prices of rent are really, really, expensive and the competition to find a place can be pure madness. I was able to hire an agent to help me relocate and that helped a lot to find a place quickly. Other people, who don’t have this option (for financial or other reasons) may have real difficulty in finding a place to live.
When not working I work out at the gym and play music - guitar and harmonica. I even started some harmonica lessons again after some time without playing it. I also enjoy going to concerts and to the cinema.
Country opening leader, sports retail
Came from: London
Why Ireland? My professional project, the family roots I have in Ireland and the opportunity to discover a country so close to home but which was undiscovered for me.
My preconceptions stemmed from my Irish heritage. My grandfather was born here and he had explained to me what a beautiful and friendly country it is. Since arriving this has most certainly lived up to my expectations. Currently our offices are based in Sandyford which gives easy accessibility by bike during my lunch break to the Wicklow Mountains (below left) or to Dun Laoghaire. This really has a positive impact on my day-to-day lifestyle.
Opportunities may be less here than at home: I have noticed since arriving that there are many opportunities within some industries as many companies are using Dublin as their European basecamp. However, coming from London, there were more opportunities across a wider range of industries compared to Dublin. The salaries here are comparable to other major European cities and reflect the market salaries for each role.
Work/ life balance is more important here than in London. I believe the social and community ambience, which is very powerful in Irish culture, reflects well in the work environment. My daily commute is now half what
it was in London, so I have more time each day - resulting in the ability to have a richer social life.
But there have been difficulties: Firstly, the processes of setting up a PPS number and bank account. The administration involved when moving countries is not efficiently aligned so you are often blocked at certain steps as the process is not connected.
It was manageable, but took me over two months to finally get everything sorted and to feel settled in the country. Secondly, the cost of accommodation. Coming from London, I expected to pay something similar, but to live in the same sized place, I am paying over €400 more per month than I did in London. This was really difficult for me to get my head around. It’s gone too far and the inflation of house prices doesn’t represent the value of the properties.
When not working I love sport: Finding a new place to run, a new course to play golf, or just enjoying nature. I enjoy discovering cities and towns around the country as the history is very different in each place.
Project surveyor, John Sisk & Son
Came from: South Africa
Why Ireland? I was tired of all the good weather in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a completely new opportunity. A recruitment company contacted me via LinkedIn and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for a position in Ireland. I jumped at the opportunity as this has always been a dream of mine.
Opportunities: There are a few opportunities in South Africa but in the last two years it has come to a standstill. Comparatively, the salaries are the same if you consider cost of living versus income, but the opportunity for advancement and the variation in projects is greater in Ireland than in South Africa.
The professional culture: From my personal experience I find the people here to be very professional but also down-to-earth, kind and considerate. I felt right at home from my first day in Ireland which is unusual and special because it always took me a few months to settle in at my previous employers.
The challenge? Finding accommodation. I easily sent out more than 20 queries to possible places to rent and didn’t receive one response. I was lucky that a future colleague was looking for a person to share his house. The next headache is an ongoing process with all the different types of permits I need to stay legally in this country. The appointment slots get taken up quickly and the paperwork seems to never end.
I decided to come here on my own, so to make new friends in a foreign country is always a bit awkward and a struggle. However, I’ve only been here a short while and I think that patience is key, especially with almost everyone being so friendly and welcoming.
When not working: Everything is still a novelty for me so I just enjoy Googling the heritage sites and castles. I’m currently making a list of all the ones I’ve travelled to and all the ones I’ve yet to explore.
Validation engineer at SL Controls
Came from: India.
Why Ireland? I felt that Ireland had an accepting attitude towards skilled migrants. I believed that Ireland is a beautiful and peaceful country to live in and that it will be the next European commercial hub after Brexit which will lead to many growth opportunities for the country. I heard of the job at SL Controls on a job seeker search engine. This opportunity is for me to advance in terms of my working area and service industries.
Professional opportunities in Ireland are greater in comparison to home because Ireland’s industrial sector is shaping up to a future as a European commercial hub. Salaries are definitely better in comparison to India with regards to years of experience, but Indian salaries are also competitive and match the inflation rate with a good hike yearly based on your performance.
The professional culture is much the same in terms of working, but it’s really advanced in terms of flexibility of working culture.
I have experienced difficulty in finding accommodation in Dublin for a family within a competitive budget and car insurance on an international driving permit.