Ranjani Iyer is no stranger to flying to unknown places, having moved multiple times during her study and career. When she arrived at Limerick to take up a role at BD, she was thrilled to find that the city welcomed her warmly.
In our increasingly globalised world, hopping from place to place for one’s study and career is now commonplace. In Ireland, for example, it’s not unusual that people may go across the Irish Sea to pursue opportunities in the UK.
Yet for someone like Ranjani Iyer, who is originally from a town in India called Palakkad (near Kerala) and was raised in Mumbai, moving for work wasn’t merely a matter of a short-hop plane ride.
Iyer moved from India to Florida to San Jose and then, as of eight months ago, settled in Limerick. We spoke to her about her work with BD as a systems verification and validation (V&V) engineer, and about getting her bearings in another new city.
Where are you from and what’s it like there?
I am originally from a small town called Palakkad in Kerala, in the southern part of India. I was born and raised in the city of Mumbai and I lived there for 21 years before I moved to Florida to do my master’s degree.
Mumbai is one of the busiest cities in the world with a population of about 20m. We have really hot summers and about three months of rainy season each year. It doesn’t really get cold in the city, but it gets a little chilly in the month of December.
The best part of living in Mumbai is that, because you have people from all different parts of India living there, you end up speaking more than one Indian language and celebrating a lot of different festivals.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I have been in Ireland for about eight months now. I moved to Limerick in June last year.
What prompted your decision to move here?
I was working with BD in San Jose, which was my first job out of graduate school. It was there that I was offered the opportunity to move to Ireland. I always wanted to move to a different country to experience a new lifestyle, something that’s different from what I grew up with in India. I knew it was going to be a huge change but it was exciting and I was taking on a slightly different role here.
I didn’t know a whole lot about Limerick, or indeed Ireland. It is unlike any other place that I have lived in the past, but I did some research and it seemed like a good place to live. I’m really happy with my decision.
What’s your role in BD?
I have been with BD since January 2016. I joined as a systems verification specialist in our biosciences team in San Jose. I mainly worked on verification testing for our clinical flow cytometry products.
Verification involves the last stage of testing an instrument before it can be submitted to regulatory bodies for approval before market launch. We design tests to make sure the instruments function to customer expectations and satisfy their needs.
When I moved to BD Research Centre Ireland in Limerick, my role changed slightly. I am now a systems V&V engineer. For the most part, I work with the same aspects of verification and validation of our instruments but on top of that, I am also trained on the field service aspect to troubleshoot and help fix the hardware and software issues in our instruments in case of any breakdowns in our lab.
How would you describe your working environment?
BD has a pretty easygoing work environment for the most part. We go through some stressful phases before an instrument is about to be launched, but the sense of accomplishment that you feel after that is just amazing. Even having a small contribution to the project makes you feel proud to see the product out there.
I have been lucky to work with a great bunch of people on my team both in San Jose and Limerick. We have a very varied skillset of people working here, so you get to learn something new from everyone. Everyone works really hard and they give 100pc in every role they do. It’s been a very rewarding experience for me so far and it has helped me grow as an engineer and a person.
What do you like most about your job?
I love that I am a part of building a product that is going to help so many people. Being in V&V, we have to work with other departments to make sure the product is compliant and will function in the manner the customer wants it to. This helps expand my knowledge and understanding of medical device development.
We end up having a lot of positive discussions where I feel that every person on the team gets an opportunity to give their opinion and every opinion is valued.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
I seriously had no idea what to expect when I decided to move to Limerick. It took me around two months to settle in and become familiar with my surroundings. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you have to get everything in place from scratch, it’s really hard.
I have a really good support system back home with my parents. I also had a really supportive and kind group of people here who helped me through these situations, making everything easy and comfortable.
I had people help me find a place to stay and I lived with a teammate while I was apartment hunting, which made my first few weeks here very comfortable and welcoming. It took me around two weeks but I found a very pretty apartment in the city centre.
Language was never an issue for me. I find that people here are really warm and welcoming and that makes my day-to-day life really fun and easy.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?
The only surprising part for me, and I can’t stress it enough, was how easy it was for me to move here and fit in. It can be really scary making a big move alone. I had no idea about Irish culture or what the social life would be like, but this city surprised me and this has made my move much more exciting than I thought to be honest.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
BD creates an atmosphere that makes working here very comfortable. It’s quite relaxed, which makes our day very enjoyable.
Moving to a new place when you start working isn’t as easy as when you move for college. It’s harder to make friends as you end up spending most of your time at work, but I ended up having a great bunch of people around me and that makes me feel at home.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I have met some really great people here and it has made the whole process a lot more easy and fun.