A woman with long brown hair wearing a light blue jumper and red scarf. She’s smiling outside the Pramerica offices.
Coleen Baker, business systems analyst lead, Pramerica. Image: Pramerica

‘There’s a buzz the moment you walk in the door’

11 Dec 2018

What’s it like moving for work from a busy city life in the US to the Donegal countryside?

Relocating for work can always feel daunting. Depending on where you’re moving to, there can be a lot of changes to get used to.

However, if you’re lucky enough to move within the same company, there’s a good chance your employer will offer plenty of support.

Coleen Baker is a business systems analyst lead at Pramerica. She moved from the US to its Donegal office a year ago. While she still finds a lot of differences between Donegal and the US hard to get used to, she was grateful for the stability of her work at Pramerica.

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

I never know how to answer this question because I’ve lived all over the US and spent some time in Germany. I’m originally from Philadelphia, which is a fabulous city on the east coast (the birthplace of the USA). I spent six years living in Portland, Oregon, before I moved to Ireland. Portland is all kinds of crazy – hippies and hipsters living in harmony, vegan food galore, craft beer, amazing hiking – it was very hard to say goodbye!

How long have you been in Ireland?

I have been in Ireland since December 2017 so I’m still very much a newbie. Somehow, in my short time here, I’ve managed to experience both an exceptionally cold winter and an unusually warm summer.

What prompted your decision to move here?

I have Irish roots and have always wanted to move to Ireland. My parents decided to retire to Ireland and I had nothing tying me to the US so I thought, it’s now or never.

What’s your role in Pramerica?

I manage a team of business analysts who work with our business partners with Prudential in the US. I also get to do some discovery analysis work with our US business partners to help them decide if an idea is worth taking to market.

How would you describe your working environment?

Exciting! There is a buzz the moment you walk in the doors of our building. We have a fast-paced environment and there’s always something new to work on. People are engaged in their work and folks really give their best here.

What do you like most about your job?

I love working with smart people! Pramerica has a global recruiting model so my colleagues are from all over the world. The diversity leads to lots of different perspectives when we’re working on projects and I think it really helps us to come up with a better product than if we all looked at things the same way.

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

My first month was a little hairy trying to find housing and even just the mundane things like getting a mobile phone and a bank account set up, but once I got that all sorted I settled in quite nicely. I try to get out each weekend and explore this beautiful island, and that has definitely helped me adjust.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland?

I’m slowly becoming someone who appreciates the country life. I’ve always been a city girl and love the noisy, hectic life of a city. Donegal has such vast, wild scenery and there’s always some place new to discover.

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

I was a business analyst in the US before moving here so my job is the one aspect of my life that is familiar to me. Everything else here is new: the accents and phrases (I don’t think I’ll ever truly know how to answer, “What’s the craic?”), the food, driving on the left etc so it’s very comforting to have an area of my life where I know what to expect and what I need to do.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

I’m loving how close Ireland is to the rest of Europe and how inexpensive travel is here compared to the US. I’ve already travelled to Rome and have a trip to Germany planned. Beyond that, I know it’s clichéd, but the Irish are so friendly. I’ve gotten countless offers to help me get settled from my neighbours and colleagues. I joined an Irish baking group on Facebook before I left the US and three people on there asked me ‘to tea’ to welcome me when I arrived. That doesn’t happen at home!

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