Enrique Mora Parraga, senior software engineer at AOL, tells us why he chose Ireland as a place to live and work, and how he truly values duvets.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a tiny town called Ciudad Real (in English that’s Royal City) at the Spanish central plateau, just a couple hundred kilometres from Madrid. It’s Don Quijote’s land, or as it is said in English, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. A place for food lovers, my county is a huge flat yellow landscape, full of olives and vines. It’s one of the biggest wine-producing areas, and our cheese is world reknowned. Actually, if you have the chance, try ‘pisto manchego with fried eggs’, ‘migas del pastor’, ‘gachas manchegas’ or ‘asadillo’ – traditional recipes from the area. In terms of sport, football is the main one over there, and our knowledge about rugby is quite limited, but in the last few years table tennis has grown in popularity.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I came to Ireland in August 2012. Before the green island I used to live in Bath in the UK, working abroad for a Spanish company. Previous to that experience, I studied in Bergen, Norway, while at the same time selling fish at the fish market; an incredible experience.
Why did you move here?
A mix of challenges and professional proficiency research. There is an open market for IT roles here in Ireland, where the daily use of English creates a challenge in itself. At the same time, I have some friends who have been living in Ireland for a long time, which made the settlement easier.
What work do you do?
I work as a senior software engineer inside the AOL platform division, more accurately on its advertising infrastructure. As a full-stack engineer, you have to get your hands dirty with both front-end and back-end developments, but my main duties are more related to the latter. I am really into the clean code mentality, with a special interest on task/system automation and an enthusiasm for beautiful pragmatic code and simplicity. I believe in the professionalism of developers, escaping from their laziness.
How would you describe your working environment?
AOL is, probably, the best company I have worked for so far. The environment is relaxed, flexible on timetables and every day there is something new to learn. It is so flexible during working hours that on Tuesday some lads go to play basketball, while others play football on Wednesday. One of the more puzzling things I have found at AOL is its culture and values. During the interview process you will have a meeting with a cultural ambassador to see if you fit those values and one of the most important on is that, here, in AOL we take fun seriously because a smile and a laugh is important, we want people to enjoy their working hours. Moreover, AOL is pretty committed to charity events, supporting many activities throughout the year. It also has a ‘Monster’ day where all our offices help out difference associations or causes for a couple of days, non-profit.
What do you like most about your job?
In a way it’s the freedom and personal assessment. Working for an international company such as AOL teaches you a different working mentality, more personal-performance based, where trust between employees allows us to schedule our time to be able to deal with our personal life, without skipping duties. Furthermore, it’s incredible to see the scope of your work, where our platform is bidding on 3.5bn real-time impressions a day – the amount of people that are targeted is incredible. But an important aspect is the fact that, being a worldwide company, you have more opportunities to move around the world, get relocated, work with other teams in other technologies and have a bigger impact on the actual technological workflow. At the same time, AOL has an active activity on internal events, mostly through its social and sport club, to promote interrelationships between co-workers.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
It is always difficult when big changes are involved; besides, working within a big company, with almost 20 different nationalities, is a challenge in itself. But on the other hand, this was not my first experience living abroad. The fact that my company allows me to work from home helps; quite often I go to Spain for a week, to spend time with my family and get fresh air. As an IT guy, we just need a laptop and a network connection to fulfil our duties.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
Maybe Dublin. I was expecting more so a proper, big, insane capital city – but it’s far from that. Dublin is a familiar, small-to-middle-sized city, easy to walk around in and not so affected by stress, like other country capitals.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
As I said, auto-scheduling. I organise my time and if need a break or just have something else to do, as long as you don’t miss your meetings, it’s fine. It allows you to optimise your time, schedule your daily life and be more productive.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I have found Irish society close to the Spanish one more than I expected, in terms of mentality and behaviour; that has helped me adapt to my working environment, as has the social life. In addition, Dublin is a young city, full of life where you can find something to do any day. But the most important thing, coming from a town where the temperature reaches 45°C during summer, is to be able to sleep covered with a duvet all summer!