Opeyemi Olomo of Citi discusses his move from Nigeria to Ireland, the things he likes most about Dublin, and how he learned to use the word ‘grand’.
Opeyemi Olomo is an innovation catalyst and blockchain lead at the Citi Innovation Lab in Dublin. He’s coming up to the end of his third year here in Ireland, having moved from Nigeria just after Christmas 2016.
We spoke with him to find out how Citi helped make his transition between countries smooth, and what he enjoys most about his new home.
Where are you from and what’s it like there?
I am from a city called Lekki, a peninsula in Lagos state, in the south-west of Nigeria. It is the smallest state in Nigeria but has a population of about 20m people – approximately 10pc of Nigeria’s population, which is estimated to be about 200m.
It is the commercial nerve centre of the country and known for its vibrant energy and crazy vehicular traffic.
What prompted your decision to move here?
I was inspired by one of my mentors to venture into the innovation area and, coincidentally, the Citi Innovation Lab was based in Dublin. I decided to apply for an open role there and was successful.
What’s your role in Citi?
I am an innovation catalyst responsible for originating, accelerating and delivering new ideas and solutions that will future-proof our business, while delivering improved value and experience to our clients.
How would you describe your working environment?
My working environment is very flexible and mentally stimulating, considering our role in the company. It is designed to make working a pleasure, with well-thought-out space design and working tools.
It operates on a flat structure where everyone has an equal say, irrespective of title. It encourages continuous ideation and we celebrate our failures. We either succeed or learn, but we never fail.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the collaborative and co-creation aspect of my job – learning about cutting-edge technologies and applying them to serve our clients better.
We are always thinking about the future and it enables us to convert our dreamy objectives to reality.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
The people in Ireland are very warm and friendly, so integrating is quite fun and easy. However, housing is quite expensive and difficult to get. It took me a while to crack this and it was almost a frustrating experience.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?
The warm and friendly culture. It was the first thing that hit me, as everyone was always willing to help or chat. I also found out that the word ‘grand’ is very versatile, and almost like a catch-all phrase!
The beauty of the country is breathtaking, especially if you take road trips outside Dublin city. It was a like a hidden tourist treasure for me. The weather, especially the constant rain, also required getting used to.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
The warm attitude of my colleagues and the use of remote-working tools provides a good work-life balance.
The city is so family-oriented and my daughter has integrated seamlessly at school and in the society.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
The immense positive change the city is going through after the recession it experienced.
I hear the Irish locals talk about this a lot and it feels like we are experiencing the change together. The people are superb, and the city is not too aggressive and also not too passive – the perfect balance.
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