A man in an office chair sitting in front of a laptop at a desk strewn with books. He is against a grey background.
Mark Roberts. Image: MSD

Need to slow down the pace of life? Move from the UK to Ireland

22 Jan 2019

Mark Roberts craved a change of pace so he moved from the UK to rural Laois to work for MSD. We found out what his new life is like.

Anyone living in the UK right now could be forgiven for wanting to get out of the eye of the storm. More broadly, most people can expect to have their priorities change with time. That was certainly the experience of Mark Roberts, the director of operations at MSD Carlow.

Roberts traded in his life in the UK for a quiet existence roaming around Ireland. He keeps a small menagerie of animals, both domestic and farm, at his home in Laois. Though it is an adjustment, Roberts is overall delighted with the varied lifestyle Ireland allows him to lead and how close the MSD Carlow site is to everything. We caught up with him to see how he is getting on after moving countries.

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

Derby, Derbyshire, England. Derby is a reasonably sized UK city with a large engineering presence. Companies based there include Rolls Royce and Toyota Motor Manufacturers.

How long have you been in Ireland?

20 months.

What prompted your decision to move here?

It was a great role and I had worked in Ireland previously and enjoyed it. I have always found the Irish extremely friendly and supportive. I love their sense of humour in particular!

What’s your role in MSD?

I head up MSD’s operational excellence/business improvement department at our site in Carlow.

How would you describe your working environment?

Very challenging and dynamic. It’s a growing site; just recently, we announced the development of a second facility in Carlow, so there’s a huge level of excitement here.

It’s testament to the talent that our operations are expanding. It’s meant that we have a huge ramp-up in production currently taking place. We need to implement effective processes all over the site.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy the people development part of my job. A large part of the role is also about creating the right culture at the site and amongst my team. The fact that it is a growing site also makes the role hugely exciting.

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

Ireland has a slower pace of life than the UK. In one way that was part of the attraction – Carlow offers a great work-life-balance – though at times this slow pace can be challenging.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?

Probably the biggest surprise was the sheer number of pharmaceutical companies based in Ireland. It’s very attractive for our sector.

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

MSD is a truly people-focused organisation. There is a great deal of support for employees, which is fantastic.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

I like the slower pace of life – that’s what attracted me here in the first place. A bit of a contradiction, I know.

Saying that, I do like the fact that within an hour’s drive of the MSD site in Carlow in almost any direction, I can have coast life, country life or city life. This diversity is definitely not the case for many sites.

I am currently living the country life in rural Laois complete with dogs, cat and chickens. Who knows though, because of MSD Carlow’s convenient location, this time next year I could easily be in the Wexford mountains.

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