A senior manager in Accenture’s Financial Services division, Andrew McFarlane explains how, even though he misses the Australian Rules football, Irish people’s relaxed nature makes him feel at home here.
Where are you from?
I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne is a very cosmopolitan city, with a tremendous range of people of different nationalities all living and working together. The city is famous for its coffee and restaurants and has quite a European influence, with many people likening it to Paris. Being sports-mad (like the vast majority of Melbournians), I really do miss the Australian Rules football, where going to the footy each Saturday during the winter is an absolute must-do.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I came to Ireland in January 2001 with the clear intention of staying for a year or so. I then met my now-wife Leonie and the rest is history.
What prompted your decision to move here?
I was living in London and was starting to think about going back to Australia or moving elsewhere when my mate told me he was off to Dublin with his work and would a group of us like to join him. I arranged a transfer with my employer at the time, which had an office in Dublin, and went from there. I really didn’t know what to expect and was happy to enjoy the experience, but since settling here I’ve been impressed by the Irish work ethic and the entrepreneurial spirit in the people of Ireland. There is a real can-do attitude here, and you can certainly see why the Irish and the Australians get on so well – both are very similar in that they work hard and also enjoy life as well.
What’s your role in the company?
I’m a Senior Manager in Accenture Financial Services, and my role is to provide consulting services to my clients, helping them to deliver through our experience and our network. I also head up the Irish Payments Centre of Excellence, which we started up this year to leverage the skills we had built up in Accenture Ireland working on SEPA for various clients. Our main focus at present is on the new PSD2 guidelines for European payments and also focusing strongly on payments innovation.
How would you describe your working environment?
It’s certainly dynamic and ever-changing, but one constant is it is always very busy. At Accenture, we aim to give 100pc to our clients and strive to exceed their expectations. It is a hugely supportive work environment, with great opportunities for training and development.
What do you like most about your job?
There are a couple of things I really like. Firstly, I really enjoy dealing with the stakeholders you meet on your client site. I’m working for one of the large financial institutions in Dublin at present and I really enjoy working with the different personalities and helping to resolve the various challenges that are being faced daily. Secondly, Accenture is a truly global company and prides itself on collaboration – I was a bit skeptical about that when joining but soon found out that if you are working on an issue for your client, and someone elsewhere in the company has been through the same experience or resolved the same problem, they will be ready to help and advise immediately. We really do have a global network that we can leverage. Thirdly, Accenture really encourages people to create – the Payments Centre of Excellence was created to focus on PSD2 to help our European colleagues negotiate these new guidelines, and we have received great support for the work done to date. Finally, it’s the people side, both from Accenture and the clients – I really enjoy interacting with my team and also with the client’s teams.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
Not really – I found it to be very simple in terms of moving here, setting up the various utilities etc that you need when settling in a country. When we first arrived, my mates and I spent every weekend travelling around Ireland, going to the various events and festivals that were taking place. We got to know Ireland pretty well, and there are very few roads that I haven’t travelled.
The work environment I found to be very similar to Australia – a work hard culture during the day and then take the time to unwind and enjoy the company of your team.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?
Having been here since 2001, I experienced the tail end of the Celtic Tiger and then saw the challenges faced by the country and the people when the property market fell apart. I’ve been surprised at how well the country has bounced back from those really tough times, and how strong the people have been through that experience. There is a real sense now that Ireland is back on its feet, and it is great to see.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
For me, being Australian in an Irish work environment makes you feel completely at home because, whoever you are working with, either they have been to Australia travelling and working for two years, or they have family that are out there. There is such a strong bond between the two countries and there is always something to chat about when you mention you’re from Australia or they pick up on my dodgy half-Irish, half-Australian accent.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I love the Irish people with their friendly nature and ability to have a bit of craic, even if things aren’t working out that well. I also really like the relaxed nature of the country, which makes me feel very much like I’m at home in Melbourne.