Marko Soldo, talent acquisition specialist at Version 1, tells us why he chose Ireland as a place to live and work, and how the little things – like two taps in the sink – can throw you.
Where are you from?
I come from Croatia, a wonderful small country in southeast Europe, almost the same size as Ireland by population and square kilometres.
Croatia can be separated into two parts: the continental part where the capital Zagreb is and where people eat meat and drink beer, and the Mediterranean part where I am from and where people eat fish and drink wine. I know you think I am generalising, but this stereotype actually exists!
My hometown, Zadar, is situated on the beautiful coastline of Dalmatia, famous for romantic sunrises, the Sea Organ, Maraschino liqueur, old churches and temperate people. In Zadar, everyone knows everyone as it’s a small town of around 100,000 people and, in general, all people there have compassion in common. People in Zadar are ready to help anyone in need without asking for a favour back. This is something that makes me very proud.
People in Zadar are addicted to basketball and, in general, they are crazy for sports. Nowadays, the town relies on tourism and the hospitality industry, which has reached mass proportions and, during the summer, you are not able to walk on the street, while in winter the town sleeps like a bear.
I left Zadar in 2006 to study in Dubrovnik at RIT Croatia, where I spent two beautiful years before I left for Prague, Czech Republic, where I spent the last five years studying and working. So I can say, so far, I’ve had three places that I consider home and every town left a positive impact on me.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I came to Dublin at the end of 2013, so it has been around seven to eight satisfied months.
Why did you move here?
Magdalena, my friend, was the main reason. However, there were other reasons involved. I knew the language already and I wanted a new environment and challenge. Here, I found an abundance of opportunity with regard to prospective careers, as well as a high-standard multicultural environment, James Joyce, Liam Neeson, U2 and so on.
I believe that I came here as I always wanted to come and live in Ireland, or Dublin. I feel like it was destiny and, as it happens, I’ve already experienced déjà vu three times since I’ve been here.
What work do you do?
I seek out talented people from all over the world to join Version 1. My role is quite wide and divided into different roles, priorities and tasks which I need to accomplish every day. From finding candidates to prescreening them, bringing them over for personal interviews, negotiating financial terms, and everything else that I am asked to do.
I would say I am here to help the company hire the best possible talent to reflect our core values: integrity and honesty, no ego, excellence, drive, personal commitment, and customer first. Lastly, but no less important, I need to bring my colleagues a cup of tea every day!
How would you describe your working environment?
Teamwork makes dream-work. I like this job because all of the people here in my department have a young spirit. Everyone is up-to-date and in trend, so we all bond very well. I like when you can speak with everyone freely; you can just ask a colleague and get an answer instantly. There are no barriers here in the office. My director sits close to me, as do all of the managers. If I have a good or bad day, they always give me a hug – that is what I really appreciate.
What do you like most about your job?
My job is highly dynamic and challenging. Things happen very fast and your day finishes very quickly. You look at your watch and the day is already gone. This is what I like the most.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
Yes it was extremely difficult when I came here first and in my flat I saw two taps in the kitchen sink. I said, “This is going to be difficult to wash dishes!” One tap is hot (super hot!) and the other one is cold (super cold!), so you are not able to have lukewarm water – but I got used to it.
That said, I did not have any issues in coming here as adaptation is part of my personality, and life. I like change so, I guess, adjusting comes with that.
If you are asking me about the rain, I think rain is very romantic, but I know several people who are not happy with it – but I always tell them: wait until it snows and you are in slippery shoes!
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
The people. I see Irish people are very polite to strangers. As you know, I spent some time in Prague and Dubrovnik and, in comparison, (I’m so sorry Prague and Dubrovnik!) Dublin is a friendlier town than these two.
I like that when I came here, the first time I entered some bar for my macchiato with cold milk, the barista asked me, “Are you okay?” And I looked at him, completely confused, saying, “Yes I am. Thank you for asking. My health is very good. I feel wonderful!” And then he said, “What can I get you?” I said, “Cappuccino, please.” It was a hilarious scene and it still makes me laugh!
However, let me say that life is full of surprises. I saw in some flats that you have washing machines that run on tokens – this was surprising for me. But then let me refer you back to the story from above about the rain and people that complain about it. It can always be worse, so tokens are fine!
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
At Version 1, my colleagues help me a lot. On a daily basis someone buys something and shares with the team. When I forget my wallet at home and I do not have money, my colleague is there to help me. I think I am part of a family here.
Also, I play football (not soccer) every week with friends from Version 1, and I should mention that I find lots of Croats here, so I can always speak my native language and feel at home.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I think this city has charm and spirit similar to my hometown. I see the same people every morning passing me and we say hello to each other, and this is something which I find most appealing. Also, I have to admit that the nature here is beautiful and I am glad that I ended up here.