Living abroad can have plenty of benefits but also it’s nice to come home, as Eimear Coffey of Fidelity Investments explains.
Eimear Coffey, VP of technology management at Fidelity Investments, is grateful for her 14 years living and working in Boston. She was able to gain a deeper insight into the markets and customer base of her company, and she had a great circle of friends.
Yet the pull of coming home was too strong to resist. Factors such as the Irish lifestyle and the opportunity to be closer to family led Coffey to eventually decide to move back home. Fortunately for her, Fidelity has a hub in Galway, near to her birthplace of Clare, as well as in Boston.
Here, we hear more about Coffey’s experience abroad and how, ultimately, she is glad to be back on Irish soil.
Where are you from?
I reside in Clarinbridge, Co Galway, however I grew up in Cratloe, Co Clare, which is a small village a few miles from Bunratty Castle.
When did you decide to emigrate and why?
The opportunity to emigrate arose while I was completing my postgrad in computing at the University of Limerick. At this time, my older brother and sister had already moved to New York and Boston and were having a fantastic time there.
I had done my co-op in New Jersey a few years earlier and loved living in the States. When Fidelity came to the University of Limerick to interview for students to join their Boston company as software engineers, it was the perfect opportunity for me to return to the States and go to Boston, where my sister was living, with a proper job!
Where did you emigrate to and for how long were you gone?
I left Ireland in October 1998 for Boston. I returned in October 2012, 14 years later, with my husband and two kids. My plan had been to go for two years then come home, however, I loved Boston and we had a great circle of friends and careers, so it was hard to come home and my timeline kept on expanding every year.
What made you decide to come back?
By the time I came home I was married to a Clare man and had two small children – three and one-and-a-half years old. We decided that it was time to come home to be closer to family and have a constant relationship with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Another deciding factor was that we wanted our kids to grow up in an environment like we did and to have the freedom we couldn’t give them in the US. It was the Irish lifestyle that we knew would suit us and our kids that was the major deciding factor. There is no place like home at the end of the day.
I remember my first day back in the Ireland office, I was in Dublin for a team meeting with all my new peers. I was sitting at the table before the meeting started and the banter around the table was great fun – it was so natural I remember thinking, ‘This is brilliant, this is why I moved home’.
How did your current role come about?
When my current role as VP of technology management was advertised last year, I applied and was lucky enough to be the successful candidate. Prior to that, when I returned home from the US I took on a role as a director of technology, product management. In the seven years I have now been home, I have had three different roles in Fidelity that gave me the experience I needed for my current role.
What work do you do?
As a VP of technology management in Ireland I have responsibility for two technology organisations in Fidelity Ireland. We support a broad range of technology projects and programs ranging from digital workplace initiatives to improving the customer experience, voice and video projects, and building digital automation platforms for Fidelity.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with team members in Ireland and the US is the favourite part of my role. I love working with them to help solve business problems, and coaching people on my team.
I work with the senior leaders of the Ireland organisation to help drive and shape strategic decisions on the future of technology in Fidelity Ireland. I also support two technology organisations, so I meet with their senior leaders to ensure Ireland is contributing to their business value and continuing to grow our involvement and value to the organisation.
How did Fidelity Investments make it easier for you to move back?
Following our family decision to move back to Ireland, Fidelity branches both in the US and Ireland helped me find an open role in Ireland that I was suited to.
Moving home is very stressful and there are hundreds of details you need to organise and get set up – but knowing there was a role in Ireland for me was a huge weight off our shoulders. It was one less thing to worry about.
How did your time working abroad make you better suited for your job, if at all?
My years in the US gave me a better understanding of the markets and the customers Fidelity are serving so that I can deliver better technical solutions for them.
It aids me in knowing what customers are thinking and would expect. It makes cultural differences much easier to manage as I have been in both countries for an extended period, so I understand and can bridge cultural differences if they arise.
I personally knew a lot of the people from the office in Boston that I ended up working with, which also made a much easier transition to working in Ireland.
What is the best thing about being back in Ireland?
There are many things that make me thankful to be back in Ireland every day. Being closer to family is the most important for us. Attending family events and being present instead of calling on Skype is fantastic.
That my kids now get to see their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles every week is invaluable – they are growing up with an extended family circle that we didn’t have in the US. The kids have a lot more freedom here than they would have in the US and you are more secure in the feeling that they are safe here.
The Irish people have such a warmth about them, which makes moving into a community easy. They are naturally curious and want to meet new people, which is an advantage when moving to a new town and knowing no one.
Working in the Fidelity Galway office is great – we get the work done to excellent standards but don’t shy away from having craic at the same time. This is very special to Ireland and makes working in Ireland a pleasure.