During those first few months when everything around me was new, it was comforting to know that I still knew how to do my job, as an audit senior. What I discovered was auditing is auditing, regardless of the country it is performed in. The KPMG Dublin office is split into three departments: FS (Financial Services), CIM (Consumer & Industrial Markets) and CHEC (Construction, Healthcare, Electronics and Communications). I was placed in and continue to work in the CHEC department. Each department is then split into smaller sub groups each managed by one partner. This was great for me, someone new coming in because I’ve really gotten to know the people I work with and the managers and partners above me.
As one of the two largest accounting firms in the country and located in the country’s capital, KPMG Dublin has a wide variety of clients. This variety has kept me on my toes and given me the chance to work as both a senior and a manager on audits in the software, property development, communications, music, pharmaceutical and the food processing industries. Clients have also ranged in sizes from mom and pop shops to multi-national firms traded on the US, London and Chinese stock exchanges. During my last two and a half years I’ve also gained IFRS experience, which I will be able to use back in Canada.
Now the best part of the job has to be the people. I lucked out, not only have I worked on a variety of clients of all sizes and got some IFRS experience along the way but my sub-group is fantastic. There are only a few secondees in the department and everyone made a huge effort to get to know me when I arrived. I remember back in the fall of 2006 when I went on my first ‘weekend away’ with my subgroup to a small town in Ireland. This bonding weekend comprised of wall climbing, dinner, drinks and the dreaded ‘party piece’. As a newcomer into the group I was required to sing at a restaurant in front of the sub-group (and other diners) a song of my choice. I couldn’t believe it when none of them had ever heard ‘The Hockey Song’ by Stompin Tom Connors.
Although my singing was terrible that night, I was given the opportunity to redeem myself on the KPMG Ireland volleyball team. On an annual basis, the KPMG firms across Europe come together to compete in a weekend volleyball and soccer tournament. In 2008, the tournament was held in Luxembourg, and while I can’t claim to have seen a lot of the country, the weekend was one I won’t forget. Volleyball during the day and partying to all hours during the night. Four days later and not only did I need a vacation but had made some great friends along the way.
Life outside of KPMG usually starts at about half five on a Friday evening when we all head over to the pub. As you’re likely aware, there is a bit of a ‘pub’ culture in Ireland. The Irish have this great sense of wit which I think has developed over the years as they’ve learned to entertain themselves in the pub while it poured rain outside. Especially in the small rural towns outside of Dublin, it’s not uncommon to go into the pub for one and find yourself caught up and brought into conversations with others around you and leaving three or four hours later.
Outside of the pub, rugby, Gaelic football, and hurling take centre stage. I remember my first rugby experience. I was in a pub (of course) with a group of friends watching Ireland play France in the 6 Nations Rugby tournaments. Not only was the pub standing room only but at times during the match the pub would break out singing ‘Ireland’s Call’ or ‘The Fields of Athenry’. That day stands out in my mind as one of the first days when I realized that I really loved Ireland.
If you ever have the chance to attend a Gaelic football or hurling match in Ireland’s 80,000 seat stadium, known as Croke Park, take it. In my first year, I decided to really get into these two sports and picked a Gaelic football team (Dublin) and a hurling team (Waterford) to support. Lucky for me a friend of mine from work was able to get tickets through his club and invited me along to a few matches. Over the past two and half years I’ve seen some unbelievable games and will always remember the first time I was part of a ‘wave’ with 79,999 other fans.
In addition to watching sports, I also joined a volleyball team and more recently, my friends and I started a tag rugby team. In contrast to the tag rugby team, where I’m the only ‘foreigner’, the volleyball team has been a great way to meet people from different countries including Slovakia, Spain, France, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
Although not a ‘hub’ like London, Dublin is a great base for travelling. In the past two and half years, I’ve visited the home of my great, great grandfather before emigrating from Sweden to Canada, the pyramids in Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and many more.
Every couple of months, my friends from other KPMG Canada offices also on global secondement in Europe and I will meet up. It’s always a comforting thought knowing that although they’re not in the same city or country as me, they’re still close. This past October, several of us went to Oktoberfest in Munich for the weekend, where the guys pulled on their lederhosen and us girls fitted ourselves in our dirndls. We fit right in with the locals and before long were clinking our litre size mugs of beer along with the music.
So here I am, over two and a half years into my global mobility secondment and still enjoying it. It would be a lie to say that over the past couple of years, my life has been great at all times. It was especially hard during those first few months after moving over when I missed my family and felt that I was losing my friends back home because I wasn’t around anymore. Those feelings of loneliness were intensified even more during those first few months because although I had friends in Ireland they were not yet ‘great’ friends like I had back home. During that time, I remember thinking ‘What was I thinking.., leaving Canada and moving to a new country ?!?!?!’. Well I can honestly say that I would have made a huge mistake and missed out on a lifetime of memories, and don’t forget the great work experience, if I had decided to move back to Canada.
The best advice I can offer anyone considering a global mobility secondment is to:
- Make a conscious effort to integrate into the country and culture – That way you’re friends will not only be other secondees.
- If someone asks you to do something, don’t say no, you may have missed a great time and they might not ask again.
- And finally, from a work perspective, learn as much as you can. There may be times when work is not going great but these times will pass and you have to remember you would likely feel this way at times regardless of the country you’re in.
Overall my global mobility secondment experience as been great from a personal and a career perspective. I definitely recommend it!