Each week, we speak to people from all over the world who have selected Ireland as a place to live and work, such as Zied Brini, a data analyst working at the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA).
Where are you from?
I like this question because I never have a simple answer.
First, I was born and raised in France, in a small city called Dreux, located 85km southwest of Paris, where there are around 30,000 inhabitants. This city is known for its royal history, including the fact that the last king of France, Louis Philippe I, is buried at the Royal Chapel of Dreux.
I’m also a Tunisian citizen, as my parents are originally from there. I went there many times when I was younger during vacations to visit the extended family. It’s a beautiful country!
Finally, from August 2004 to July 2013 – so almost nine years – I lived in the Québec province of Canada, first in Québec City for four years, then in Montreal for five years. The province of Québec is a really interesting place with a strong Québecer identity and a deep attachment to the French language, which they have succeeded in keeping over the last four centuries.
So, where am I from? Well, I have ties to three continents and, to be honest, I like it that way.
How long have you been in Ireland?
Since 1 January 2014, so less than two months. I’m really new here.
Why did you move here?
To be honest with you, Ireland was not in my plans at all at the beginning. The first idea was to find a job in or near Paris to be closer to my family, compared to Canada.
However, in the analytics field, the quickest companies to reply positively to my job applications were located here and Aon was the first one.
I did my research on Ireland and I discovered a dynamic IT market that I was not aware of and a great country to live in. So, for me, it gives the advantage to be able to pursue my career and balance my family life, as Dublin is not far from France. So in brief, this job offered the best of both worlds.
Finally, the ACIA mission is very interesting. The fact a non-IT company invests in a major way to become a leader in analytics and develops IT best practices resonated with me, and I had the feeling that I needed to participate in this journey.
What work do you do?
I’m part of the Data Management Services (DMS) team. As a data analyst, and with my colleagues, our main role is to ensure that the data we receive from different countries respects data quality standards such as accuracy, timeliness, uniqueness, etc.
We also work on projects to improve our processes and spend more time on added value analysis for our stakeholders.
How would you describe your working environment?
My colleagues have made me feel comfortable since the first day. I’m part of a great team; very diverse and, at the same time, complementary.
Moreover, Aon always organises training in different formats (lunch and learn, coffee mornings, etc) and they are very human-focused, meaning wellness at work is really important.
Finally, the Aon Sports & Social Club is very active, organising around two events per month, so we have the opportunity to meet regularly with other people from other teams.
What do you like most about your job?
What I can feel from my short experience is that we take time to do things in the right way so there’s no pressure, and we are allowed the freedom to take initiative and improve current processes – Aon is very supportive for that. One example is the innovation contest we have internally.
The other thing is the diversity of the people. I have met people with a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. It makes discussions really interesting and helps us to think outside the box.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
Everything is going well for now – knock on wood!
I think the only difficulty I met with was finding accommodation in Dublin at short notice. But, in any capital city in the world, I think that accommodation is always an issue, so this is not a problem specifically linked to Ireland.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
I have the feeling that Ireland is a well-kept secret. From what I have seen up to now, Dublin is such a great city. People are very welcoming and you can have great talks, especially when you show a sincere interest in the Irish culture. I’m looking forward to travelling around the country and visiting other cities.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
My philosophy is that when you arrive in a country to live, you should consider it as your home from the first day and quickly adopt the local customs. It makes life much easier. So, from 1 January, I feel at home.
However, as I knew nobody in Dublin when I arrived, the fact Aon organises a lot of activities for the new recruits gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people. What I like about these events is that we can easily meet the management and the executives in an informal way.
I also joined the Aon Sports & Social Club quickly to meet colleagues from other business units in a social context. A beer always helps!
My next step is to be involved in a not-for-profit organisation because I think that being involved in something is the best way to get to know a new place quickly. I’ve already taken up membership with the Junior Chamber International Dublin, which has an objective to empower young people by developing their personal and leadership skills, and I’m looking forward to being active in it.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I’m definitely joking!
Irish people are warm and I have been welcomed in this country. Also, what I will say is cliché, but the fact that pubs are a way of life is priceless.