Headshot of a smiling woman from Pramerica with red hair tied up against a background of grass and a lake.
Stephanie Visser, data analysis specialist, Pramerica. Image: Pramerica

‘Working in a small town, your colleagues become your friends’

17 Oct 2018

Stephanie Visser is a data analysis specialist in Pramerica. Here, she talks about moving from a South African rural town to Co Donegal.

As part of Data Science Week, we are profiling a number of employees working within the data science space. We wanted to learn not just about their actual jobs, but about the journeys that brought them to the role they have now.

One such person is Stephanie Visser, a data analysis specialist working at Pramerica Services Ireland in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Visser has been in Ireland almost a year, and she talked to us about what made her decide to come to Ireland from her home town in South Africa.

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

South Africa. I grew up in a rural town in the north-west province, but eventually moved to Lone Hill, a residential suburb of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province.

The weather is great (no surprise!) and we have the most awe-inspiring thunderstorms on occasion.

The coffee, food and wine culture is something to behold – and it is any foodie’s dream city. Corporate life is exciting and competitive and always rushing somewhere (although traffic doesn’t allow you to get anywhere fast!).

How long have you been in Ireland?

Almost a year.

What prompted your decision to move here?

I attended the One Young World 2014 conference in Dublin. I completely enjoyed it here and was intrigued to come back and experience more of the culture.

The Irish always seem to always retain their easygoing nature and are extremely welcoming towards internationals. Thus, when my partner received a job offer in Ireland, I was immediately on board to come over.

What’s your role in Pramerica?

I work in the data analytics department within the professional business services area of the business. My role is quite broad, and I do everything and anything from data analytics specialist work, to business storytelling, mentorships and business development for the team.

How would you describe your working environment?

I would describe it as both extremely focused on delivery and relaxed. Pramerica very purposefully encourages innovation, and it is visible through all the events, colourful interior, excitement and buzz in the offices.

What do you like most about your job?

The fact that it is different every day. I also like that I can leave home at five minutes to nine, go for a five-minute drive through the Irish countryside and then arrive at the office!

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

Leaving your family and friends behind is harder than you can ever explain. Also, the silly little things, such as your favourite coffee shop, favourite grocer and a tree with the most amazing shade from the sun – these are the things you do not expect to miss, but you do.

That being said, the local people are very inclusive and new people are not left alone – they are looked after. There is also a huge South African community in Letterkenny that tries to get together on occasion. I have heard more South African spoken while walking around in town than Irish, which makes gossiping with my partner while we are in town a very risky game! Also, being new here, I do a lot of tourist things, which makes it fun.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland?

Everything just works.

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

Working in a small town, more often than not, your colleagues become your friends.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

I’ve only been here for a while, but I very proudly refer to myself as a Donegal girl when someone asks me where I live in Ireland. I’ve seen a bit of Ireland and I think we live in the prettiest place! The fact that I drive a country road to the office is also neat.

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