Marco Leitão, QA lead at Aon, tells us why he chose Ireland as a place to live and work, and how these dark evenings take some getting used to.
Where are you from?
I’m from Sintra, an amazing village next to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. There is a lot of sun and warm weather, beaches, awesome food and people – quite typical of Portugal. It’s a country with lots of history, amazing sights and monuments. I could go on, it’s my home.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I’ve been in Ireland since May 2013, so 19 months.
Why did you move here?
I was interviewed by the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA) while I was still working in Portugal and the prospect of working in a diverse and challenging environment, with freedom to explore an IT area I was interested in, got me excited. I was also looking for the opportunity to learn new working methods and processes, and grow professionally. On a personal level, it’s a great experience to meet other cultures and practice my English, which I didn’t need to use that much in Portugal.
What work do you do?
I’m a QA lead. I’m responsible for all IT test activities at ACIA. I am responsible for planning test activities for all projects with IT intervention, I manage team activities and I also need to execute tests when an extra resource is needed.
How would you describe your working environment?
Professional and challenging, but quite relaxed. We have lots of activities and training, colleagues are encouraged to bring extra ideas to the table, innovate, with lots of presentations every month. It really empowers people.
What do you like most about your job?
I have been given an unprecedented opportunity to define processes, creating or choosing solutions to increase our productivity. I have the chance to learn and explore areas I was missing as a test analyst before, such as security and automation testing.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
I’m a very casual person and it was hard for me to wear a suit and tie all the time. The best ideas are gathered in relaxed, informal situations and suit and tie are anything but casual. Fortunately for me, ACIA recently loosened its dress code policy. But more important than that, where is the sun?
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
First, rental property prices are so extreme. Some houses I was looking at were in such bad condition yet they were so expensive! Second, it’s dark at 4pm during November/December – for someone used to the sun, this is a shock to the system. Third, the alcohol problem is even worse than I thought.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
It’s really difficult to compare two distinct countries. Ireland is very different from Portugal in its language, way of communication, social problems, food, coffee, etc. Similarly, ACIA also has a different culture than the companies I worked with in Portugal. ACIA has people from so many different nationalities and, from time to time, I’m able to speak Portuguese with the other Portuguese and Brazilian colleagues. But what most reminds me of home is when we go to the pub for pints after work.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I work from 9am to 5pm and no one gets upset if I leave work at 5pm!