Ana Manzano, business application consultant at Version 1, tells us that dogs driving cars is a bit of a surprise, and why our shops should stock more fish.
Where are you from?
I am from La Carolina, a town in the Jaén province, located in the north of sunny Andalusia in Spain. Surrounded by olive trees (the best olive oil in the world comes from my area) and a few abandoned lead mines from the industrial revolution era, it has a remarkable history.
Founded in 1767 as an enlightenment-era planned city in the middle of nowhere, it became the capital of a new province with its own political system and laws similar to modern-day Navarre. It was first populated by settlers coming from many different European countries, who were very interested in this new colonial experience.
In fact, nowadays one can still find lots of families with last names such as Smith, Aufinger, Scheroff or Tecklemayer. Even in my own family we were able to trace back some ancestors having family names Galbin and Felder, who were descendants of the foundation settlers.
How long have you been in Ireland?
Two years and four months have already gone! Time flies when you have something to do and Ireland has given me plenty of personal and professional goals to achieve.
Why did you move here?
I decided to move abroad because of the uncertainty at work caused by the economic crisis in which Spain has been immersed for the last few years. Ireland has become one of the most interesting destinations for IT professionals due to its international and constantly growing ICT market, so it was clear Ireland was the place to go.
What work do you do?
I’m currently working on the customer side as a Java junior developer. Since I joined Version 1, my responsibilities have varied and include coding developments and enhancements for both new and existing applications, integration and system testing, as well as bug fixing.
How would you describe your working environment?
I work in a multi-disciplinary team with members coming both from the customer’s staff itself and from other IT consultancies. At first one could think about this being a ‘Tower of Babel’, but the environment is very professional, and friendly at the same time. One can always learn from others and have the chance to contribute to the success of the team.
In my role I face challenging situations on a daily basis that make me feel constantly motivated to improve my skills in order to deliver value to the customer.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is that I feel I am growing a lot as a professional. The company is constantly encouraging us to learn and acquire new skills, which is very beneficial for my career as an IT consultant. We have regular meetings with our managers to discuss our career, our objectives and our concerns, and these meetings are decisive because actions are taken. I really like that I can see facts instead of words.
Version 1 also organises social activities, such as theatre outings, parkruns, breakfast mornings, etc… that help us to meet colleagues from other teams and have fun together. I also love the home-baking of some of my colleagues! It´s great to have sweet treats from time to time.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
Taking into account that both the Spanish and Irish are European, I did not feel any culture shock when I arrived. I think the Irish people are very welcoming and I have always found them very supportive.
However, the language was a bit of a barrier the first year. I used to really sweat when the phone rang at work!
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
I will not say that the weather surprised me but I was astonished when I realised that, despite being an island, there is very little variety of fish or seafood in the supermarkets – on the contrary one can find there paracetamol and other medicines.
There were other small things that I did not expect such as people saying “thank you” to the bus driver, dogs and children “driving” cars (obviously I was looking to the wrong seat), and the patience of the Irish with foreigners mangling the language.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
To have a satisfactory working life is very important for me. I spend most of my time at work and doing things related to IT, so if I have a challenging and interesting job I am happy. It’s very difficult to find a place one can call “home” without actually being home, but at least my colleagues are very friendly and welcoming, and this helps a lot.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
How Irish people like sports (they actually practice them and can be seen jogging and running in the streets and parks). I also like a lot that many different organic foods and ingredients can be easily found in the Irish supermarkets.