Petra Augustinovic, software engineer at FINEOS, tells us why she chose Ireland as a place to live and work, and how the recent economic crisis spurred her into finding professional opportunities outside of Croatia.
Where are you from?
I’m from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. I was born there and spent my whole life there up to the age of 28. It’s a very homogeneous community and, unlike Ireland where you have many nationalities, most of the people living there are Croatians.
The recent economic crisis is still affecting everyday life in Croatia. Our politicians are driving the country deeper and deeper into debt, the cost of living is increasing, and there are new taxes being introduced while people struggle to keep their jobs. At the moment, people aren’t very optimistic about the future. A lot of young people are leaving the country in search of a better life; even more so now since Croatia joined the European Union last year, which made it that much easier.
Apart from that, Zagreb is a beautiful city to live in. We are a coffee-drinking people so, at the smallest hint of sunshine, everyone is outside at one of the many bars in the city centre, sipping their coffee for hours and chatting with friends. More and more people are cycling instead of driving and, on weekends, they go to the Mèdvednica mountain just outside the city or drive to the coast for a city break.
How long have you been in Ireland?
Why did you move here?
Professional growth. I felt, like a lot of young Croatian people, that I wouldn’t be able to develop my career the way I want to if I stayed in Croatia. I gained five years of experience and felt it was time to move on.
Ireland’s IT sector is rapidly expanding and there are a lot of opportunities for software developers, so moving here wasn’t that hard of a decision.
What work do you do?
I’m a software engineer. I work in the product development team at FINEOS.
How would you describe your working environment?
People in the company are very positive and very approachable, no matter what position they’re in. It is a very nice and flexible environment to work in, and you are trusted to get the job done. FINEOS is constantly investing in knowledge but also cares about the satisfaction of its employees, and the sports and social club has had a major transformation, which is helping to keep the employees satisfied.
What do you like most about your job?
It gives me the opportunity to learn new things and explore different career paths. People are very professional, very knowledgeable and always ready to help. It’s a real pleasure to work with them. The company is very organised and that makes the job much easier. That is what I was missing in Croatia.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
Because Ireland is an island, the main means of transport abroad is a plane. That means the cost of a holiday is higher and I have to plan my trips at least a couple of months in advance. Croatia is very diverse, with its mountains and lakes and the long coast, so I’m used to having everything I need right there in the country that I’m in, whether I want to go on a skiing trip or a summer vacation.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
The healthcare system. In Croatia, we are fully covered for most things and there is an optional small yearly fee that can be paid to cover everything else. Here, it's very expensive to be ill.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
FINEOS helped me move to Ireland by providing me with all the information I needed to start my life here. They arranged temporary accommodation until I found a place to live, helped with all the paperwork and were always ready to answer any questions I had.
My colleagues are friendly people, always ready for a chat. There are many nationalities in the company so I don’t feel like an outsider at all. Also, we have a social club, which I am a member of. They organise various social events at least once a month. Teamwork is one of the company’s main values and that is really reflected in its people.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
People are more relaxed here than in Croatia. The community is much more diverse, there are people from all over the world and Irish people are very approachable and always ready for a chat. Or a pint!