If you have a family, moving abroad for work can have added layers of complication.
There are a lot of things to consider when relocating for a job, chiefly among them being how your loved ones will take it.
It can be particularly taxing if you have children, who will understandably find it tough to have their lives uprooted and find themselves in a unfamiliar school in an unfamiliar country.
Radhakrishnamurthy Donthu had these concerns when moving to Ireland. Granted, he had already relocated before from India to Eindhoven, yet the idea of pulling his kids from their friends and activities certainly gave him pause. Fortunately, his family have since fallen in love with their now-native Limerick, where Donthu works for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Technology.
We spoke to Donthu about the challenges and considerations that come with going further afield for professional opportunities.
Where are you from and what’s it like there?
I am from a small town called Proddatur in the Kadapa district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Growing up, our town was very small. We had approximately four primary and secondary schools, and one college affiliated with a university.
Most of the town’s population rely on cotton weaving, clothmaking and farming, with others working for the government and in the clothing and grocery business. Geographically, our town is in the south of the country which lends itself to very warm weather throughout the year with temperature ranging from 22 degrees Celsius to a high of 44 degrees Celsius.
How long ago did you relocate and what prompted your decision?
I relocated to Ireland in June 2013 after accepting a role as an SAP technical lead with Hewlett Packard in their SAP centre in Galway. From there, I moved to Johnson & Johnson Technology in Limerick in April 2015.
Prior to moving to Ireland, I worked and lived in the Netherlands for Philips for approximately 11 years as an SAP technical lead within their development team. I wanted to explore new opportunities in an English-speaking country and luckily I came across the position. Ireland was the perfect country to live in.
Describe your role in J&J Technology.
As product development manager and principal SAP developer [for] J&J Technology, I am part of a strong team of 50 colleagues with 11 direct reports. I am responsible for the design and delivery of technical solutions for the J&J medical SAP platform, which could range in anything from the implementation of new business processes, to the integration and segregation of acquisitions and divestitures. I do this with dedicated scrum teams using an Agile methodology. I am also responsible for the management and development of my team.
What do you like most about your job?
I work with a dynamic team of talented people. I have the opportunity to work on very complex projects that are challenging in terms of technology, complex business processes and sensitivity. In the process of working on those projects, I’ve had the opportunity to learn lots of new skills and gain exposure to various methods of working in a multicultural environment. It certainly has been an educational experience!
What were the biggest challenges of relocating and how did you overcome them?
While working for Philips in the Netherlands, my family and I lived in Eindhoven for approximately 11 years. My kids went to school there, joined many sports teams and made lots of friends. Our family was one of a small number of Indian families in Eindhoven at the time and we helped build a good Indian community of family and friends.
For those reasons, it was very difficult to relocate as I got a lot of opposition from my children and friends. Fortunately, my wife was very understanding and has always supported me throughout my life; she soon convinced my children that it would be a wise move.
What are the major differences between your previous location and your new one?
As I was based in Europe with my previous job, frankly there wasn’t a huge difference but, all the same, there are considerable differences in terms of weather, people and landscape. Ireland is a beautiful country with plenty of fresh air, nature and glorious scenery.
At work, we have a very friendly atmosphere with supportive management and staff. Fortunately, we are always involved in challenging and innovative pieces of work.
How does your working life and other supports help to make you feel at home there?
I have great work colleagues and managers who facilitate a friendly working environment and who are very supportive in difficult situations. They appreciate when a job is done well and are always welcoming of new ideas/suggestions.
Outside of work, my family and I live in a pleasant neighbourhood. We have great neighbours who are very friendly and always willing to help when the need arises. My kids have made good friends at school and play different sports in local clubs etc. I play tennis in a local club every week with a few good Irish friends.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I really enjoy my workplace, my job, my colleagues and my team. Furthermore, my family and I have been like tourists in Ireland, exploring Limerick as well as the many other local tourist attractions, sightseeing tours, strolling casually along the city streets, capturing lots of photos and absorbing the local vibe. We have also joined a few sports clubs, in addition to volunteering with senior citizens in a library, while also spending time in their homes.
The Johnson & Johnson credo challenges us to put the needs and wellbeing of the people we serve first. Each year, we volunteer in our local community, from painting and gardening to cleaning or rubbish removal on beaches etc. My family and I have joined an Indian expat community to maintain our culture, celebrate our festivals, organise get-togethers etc. We still maintain good ties with my family in India and friends in the Netherlands.
What advice would you give to others who are planning to relocate for work?
Ireland has a rich culture with a very good stable working and living environment. As a haven for industries ranging from pharma to finance, the opportunities here are great.