With people from all over the world choosing Ireland as a place to live and work, we speak to those that have put down roots in the country. This time, we talk to Carmen Sanchez Lopez, a project manager at Microsoft Ireland.
Where are you from?
I am from Asturias, a small region in northwest Spain with a little over 1m inhabitants. The best thing about growing up there was having the space and the freedom to be outside most of the time and enjoy the outdoors. In Asturias, we are very fortunate to have wonderful scenery with lush forests, high peaks and mountains perfect for hiking, rock climbing and skiing, as well as over 200 beaches ideal for surfing or just relaxing under the sun on a summer day. The quality of the food is great, and we produce our own cider, which is very popular, especially during the festival season in the summer!
How long have you been in Ireland?
I have been in Ireland for 10 years.
Why did you move here?
I came to Ireland 14 years ago to study the second year of my undergraduate degree, and I fell in love with the country and its people. I had a great experience as a student; everyone was really helpful and friendly – particularly one Irish boy, who later became my husband!
When I finished my degree in Spain, unemployment was high and I decided to return to Ireland to seek career opportunities.
What work do you do?
I am a project manager in Microsoft Ireland. Based in Dublin, I work with the Microsoft teams here and in Redmond, Washington (our corporate headquarters) who design the product features for upcoming Windows and Windows-related software, to determine which new features have local dependencies and should be tested in local markets for feedback.
In this way, we ensure that customers around the world have a good experience when they use our software and services. At the moment, I am transitioning into a new role and I will be working on planning and strategy areas for testing.
How would you describe your working environment?
Microsoft has been named the best large company to work for in Ireland four years in a row. There is a strong emphasis on collaboration and recognition. Work-life balance is another important aspect of our culture. Microsoft has an excellent programme available to employees, called Fuel Your Energy, to help us towards leading fuller, happier and more productive lives. To complement this, we have different associations run by employees, such as the Sports and Social Club, which provides great opportunities to mingle and for entertainment throughout the year.
Microsoft offers a multicultural and diverse work environment with over 42 nationalities located in Dublin and the opportunity to interact with even more cultures internationally through the work we do. It is quite typical to start the day by having a call with Asia and finishing up in the evening talking with colleagues in the US! Plus most people get to travel at least once or twice a year. There’s also lots of opportunities to develop my career, and move to new roles both in Ireland and abroad.
What do you like most about your job?
Every day brings new challenges and there is always an opportunity to develop my skills and grow professionally. The world doesn’t stay still, and neither do our jobs at Microsoft! I have been in my current role for over a year and a half, and I will be soon moving on to a new opportunity – also in Microsoft in Dublin. Working alongside very talented people creates a stimulating work environment that is also a lot of fun.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
I knew what I was getting myself into because I spent a year studying at the University of Limerick before coming to work to Ireland. I had great memories of the university campus, all the facilities available, the beautiful surroundings and how friendly Irish people were.
The job opportunities in Ireland are also very attractive, with so many tech companies established in the country. This creates a great atmosphere inside and outside work. There is a great buzz in the streets of Dublin all the time. It is a very cosmopolitan city and it is easy to meet people from every nationality and walk of life.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland?
Two things come to my mind. The first is the weather. As one of my teachers used to say, Ireland is the only country where it can rain when there are no clouds! The second is the Irish people’s sense of humour, which I love. They always make the best of any situation. They are great craic!
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
I am very lucky to work in a team that has the right balance between work and fun. To me, this is important because I can count on my colleagues to be successful in my job.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
I love the mix between rural Ireland and the big towns, the rhythm of life (everything stays open until late and during the weekend), and the people of this country. I hope they never change!