Headshot of a man looking into the camera in the reception of Fidelity Investments.
Ares Zhang. Image: Fidelity Investments

This software engineer’s move from China to Galway was ‘smooth and cheerful’

10 Oct 2019

Ares Zhang of Fidelity Investments talks about coming to Ireland and his colleagues’ crucial help with that life-changing move.

Moving to an entirely new country for work can be daunting to say the least, but having the right company culture and friendly neighbours can help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Ares Zhang, a senior software engineer at Fidelity Investments, knows just how much of a difference that can make. He spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about his experiences moving to Galway from Dalian, China.

‘I enjoy this lifestyle – it’s peaceful and real. I can spend more time in nature or with family and friends’

Where are you from and what’s it like there?

I come from Dalian, which is a beautiful coastal city in the northeast of China. A medium-sized city, it’s fashionable, modern, lively, charming and romantic.

When thinking about Dalian, a lot of brilliant events come to my mind: the ‘Summer Davos’ World Economic Forum, Dalian International Beer Festival, Dalian International Fashion Festival, Dalian International Marathon and so on.

The longer you stay in Dalian, the more you love it.

How long have you been in Ireland?

I’ve been here a year and a half now, having moved to Ireland in April 2018.

What prompted your decision to move here?

I previously worked in Fidelity Dalian. As the company strategy changed, I got an opportunity to relocate to Fidelity Ireland.

It was not an easy decision for both myself and my wife to give up our former jobs and lives, but it’s proven to be a great decision. Fidelity provided a lot of support for my relocation and my new colleagues helped me and my wife to settle down. It made the move much easier on us.

Since then we have had our first child in Galway, early this year. He is now nine months old and I can balance my work and life easily. The whole family enjoy our life in Ireland.

What’s your role in Fidelity?

I’m a senior software engineer in Fidelity. As part of the CTG ITEC [Corporate Technology Group IT Enablement Centre], I mainly work on the design and development for big data, cloud and micro services.

How would you describe your working environment?

Fidelity is an excellent international company. Encouragement, respect, innovation, diversity, productivity, creativity and sustainability are central to the culture here. I’m proud to be a member of Fidelity’s workforce.

What do you like most about your job?

Fidelity fully supports its employees’ career development. I can easily obtain lots of resources and channels with which to improve myself. With continuous improvement, I have become more confident and can contribute even more.

It makes me feel valuable and allows me to enjoy my job. It’s fortunate that I can continuously grow together with the company and continue to do the work that I like.

Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?

Professionally speaking, with the company and my colleagues’ great support, the transition was smooth and cheerful. The support of accommodation, cross-culture training, language training and so on, really made the transition simple.

Personally, things were most challenging when my baby boy was born five weeks early and weighed only 2.2kg. Fortunately, he got great care from the doctors and nurses and we were pleased to see him grow so much within a few short weeks. Now he has become a big and healthy boy.

Things are going from strength to strength.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?

People are so friendly and welcoming in Ireland. They are so nice and polite, not because they have a good education, but because they are kind at heart.

A few memorable moments with our neighbours stand out to me. When I tried to borrow a screwdriver from my neighbour Mike, he was glad to help me mend my baby’s cot without any hesitation. He bought the hinge and other materials himself and repaired the cot like new.

Another neighbour, Grace, actively helped to consult with the childcare centre multiple times about the enrolment of my baby boy. I know Irish people are hospitable, but they feel more like family members. It makes me like staying at home.

How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?

I’m so lucky to do my favourite job in Fidelity. It’s interesting and I’m good at it, and eager to spend time on it, too. I also get acknowledgment for it. It makes me feel valuable. Meanwhile, my colleagues are very friendly and helpful, which also makes me feel at home.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

Both myself and my wife enjoy the country life in Galway. It’s peaceful and natural. It’s a totally different feeling compared with the city life. It’s possible to know more people in a small town than in a city with a population of six million.

You may even be familiar with the passengers on the same bus. You may notice they changed their hairstyle, got new shoes or they commuted at a different time in the morning.

I enjoy this lifestyle – it’s peaceful and real. I can spend more time in nature or with family and friends. I’m sure it’s going to be a very important experience and it will impact my whole life.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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