Leaving your home country can be a big adjustment. Sometimes, though, it’s the best decision you could ever make.
Moving anywhere for work can be a big adjustment for anyone, even if it’s only a temporary move.
Ruben Carvalho, originally from Portugal, is a Salesforce solutions architect with Fidelity Investments Ireland.
He originally came to Ireland just to gain some work experience abroad with the intention to return to Portugal eventually.
More than a decade later, he is still happily working in Ireland, and he talked to Siliconrepublic.com about his experience making the move.
Where are you from?
I was born in Madeira Island, Portugal, in a small town by the sea called Santa Cruz. Madeira is a very small island with a population of less than 300,000 inhabitants, usually known for its natural beauty, great fish and wine.
I lived in Lisbon for nearly 10 years, where I did my undergrad and worked before moving to Ireland. Lisbon is a modern and cosmopolitan city, packed with history, style and great food.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I arrived in Ireland in the autumn of 2004, nearly 12 years ago. I remember taking the bus from Dublin Airport to Galway that evening, under what anyone would think was torrential rain, only to be told it was “just a shower”.
Over the years, I have grown accustomed to the ‘seasonless’ Irish weather and learned not to mention any barbecue plans until just a few minutes before starting the fire.
What prompted your decision to move here?
It was always my intention to gain some experience working abroad for a period of time, and then maybe return to Lisbon. Ireland always had this strange appeal, being a small country with such a presence in the world, so why not?
After finishing college in 2001, the world was still recovering from the ‘dot-com bubble’ so it was difficult to apply for jobs overseas.
I was eventually accepted as a software engineer in NUI Galway, where I was given the opportunity to implement a custom visualisation tool.
This was my first experience designing a set of APIs from the ground up to be implemented by the researchers and consumed by different clients.
What’s your role in the company?
I have worked at Fidelity Investments for almost 10 years, having changed teams on three occasions. The focus of my career has always been on building robust solutions using different platforms, with a special interest in innovation, development best practices and release engineering.
I have recently taken on a new role to help establish a new Salesforce team in the Ireland organisation.
How would you describe your working environment?
Fidelity is a great place to work and develop one’s career, as customers and employees are highly valued and respected.
It constantly promotes and fosters a culture of innovation by encouraging the adoption of new ideas and technologies.
The company is also expanding its workforce in Ireland, with new people from all around the world joining every day, providing the opportunity to work with highly talented colleagues who contribute to its success with a diverse set of skills.
What do you like most about your job?
I always enjoyed the challenge of taking a problem and designing and implementing solutions to address them, so a career in software development was a perfect fit.
It is quite a creative process as there can be more than one way to deliver the final product, given the sheer amount of new platforms and technologies being made available regularly.
As I progressed in my career and took on more senior roles, I got the opportunity to help other team members develop their skills and enthusiasm for technology, which is very fulfilling.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
To be completely honest, it was not. Apart from minor cultural mishaps – like the need we Portuguese have to show appreciation to friends and colleagues by giving handshakes to everybody, every day, multiple times a day – adjusting to Ireland was quite a smooth process.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
I would not call it a surprise, since Ireland is known for being welcoming and accommodating, but it was still amazing to experience the generosity and kindness of Irish people in day-to-day life.
Any time I questioned my decision to move to Ireland, a trip to the Galway market on a Saturday morning would be enough reassurance.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
Growing up in a known tourist destination like Madeira, I was always exposed to people from different locations, so it is great to be able to work with colleagues from different nationalities and diverse backgrounds.
Fidelity also has employee groups dedicated to diversity in the workplace, which help with the integration process.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
It has to be the craic, although it did take some time to get used to answering, ‘What’s the craic?’ with: ‘Not too bad.’
On a more serious note, over the past 12 years, I have seen Ireland change dramatically, but always taking its time to ensure we all have the opportunity to debate our differences and collectively contribute to a better society.
The recent marriage equality referendum vote was probably the best example of Irish compassion, where all points of view were presented, debated and voted for in a respectful manner.