With the Irish economy reportedly on the uptick and tech firms founding Irish offices left and right, you may be wondering what you have to do to lure Irish talent home.
Amid the economic crash of the mid-2000s and the resulting austerity, Ireland suffered a massive brain drain. Young professionals left in their droves to seek opportunities further afield.
Yet now, the economy is reportedly returning to a much healthier place. International tech companies are choosing Ireland as their home for European operations, frequently lauding the bevy of tech talent and the fact that Ireland is one of – possibly soon to be the only, depending on Brexit – English-speaking country in Europe.
Amid this, the question remains of how you get Irish tech talent to return to Ireland to help plug the much-discussed skills gap.
We spoke to Aisling McLoone, a Pramerica employee and head of finance at Pricoa Capital Group (Ireland), about what influenced her decision to move home after years abroad.
Where are you from?
When did you decide to emigrate and why?
I decided in September 2013. I always wanted to travel and gain international experience. Following the continued slowdown and recession in Ireland, my boyfriend and I felt the timing was right as he worked in the construction industry.
Where did you emigrate to and for how long were you gone?
North-west Queensland, a mining town called Mount Isa, located in the desert. It was far removed from Donegal, with red earth and average temperatures in excess of 40 degrees. We were away for nearly five years but were fortunate to be able to holiday in Ireland every year.
What made you want to/decide to come back?
My intention was always to come back to Ireland. Every time we came home on holiday, we could see that Ireland was recovering and the economic outlook was improving and growing. My Australian employer was looking for long-term commitment and offering the opportunity for partnership, so I felt that I needed to reshift my focus to what opportunities were available to me in Ireland.
How did your current role come about?
Pramerica’s philosophy for its employees is to ‘build your own career’. In my initial role, I got great exposure working with people in the US, making connections and building working relationships. Years later, the opportunity came to join a newly established organisation, which required me to relocate from London to a European city to sustain the entity’s regulatory requirements following Brexit.
Pramerica in Letterkenny offered that opening with experienced and skilled staff committed to delivering the new requirements.
What work do you do?
As head of finance for Pricoa Capital Group (Ireland), I am required to manage the implementation of all financial aspects of the company, including satisfying the regulatory requirements from the Central Bank of Ireland.
Specific to the company’s formation as an alternative investment fund manager are the responsibilities of a designated person for finance and capital management, and a designated person for distribution, which falls under my remit.
All day-to-day finance needs reside with me and, at this initial phase, it involves a close working relationship with the CEO and the wider international stakeholders. All financial needs of the board must be maintained and satisfied. Every day is different and encompasses so many facets of finance.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with my international colleagues while being able to live in Donegal. Gaining exposure to highly skilled and experienced people. Problem-solving with a team to overcome obstacles and challenges while enhancing my skillset into a more specialised area and adding value to my role.
How did Pramerica make it easier for you to move back?
I had kept an eye on Pramerica while in Australia and the communication was always so positive regarding its ability to offer a professional career in a fantastic location. It was named among Ireland’s Best Workplaces in 2016.
Also, Pramerica’s investment in Letterkenny demonstrates our US parent’s commitment to the area. It really made the move home a career move as Pramerica offers world-class opportunities in Letterkenny and, I believe, proves that relocation does not need to be confined to Dublin.
How did your time working abroad make you better suited for your job, if at all?
Working abroad played a huge part in being selected for this role. The CEO mentioned that gaining exposure to international practices demonstrates a person’s drive and determination and therefore sets a person apart.
My time abroad led to significant opportunities that were not available in Ireland within a narrow timeframe. Working abroad led to exposure to different best practices, policies and procedures. It enhanced my skillset at a professional level and it also heightened my belief in my ability and my capabilities.
What is the best thing about being back in Ireland?
Being part of the community again, being with family and friends, and of course my mother’s stew!
Updated, 5.15pm, 4 June 2019: This article was amended to clarify Aisling McLoone’s role at Pricoa Capital Group.