The following interview with Sunit Somani, Senior Manager with EY Financial Services, was first published in the Irish Independent on 23 January 2020. Sunit discusses moving from Mumbai to Dublin and his experiences to date.
The decision to go into accounting was more a process of elimination than choice.
My father and brother were chartered accountants and after studying commerce, I had to settle on a career. Once I started, I quickly got into it and found my areas of interest. I was with EY in Mumbai, India, for over four years when I applied to do a short-term overseas secondment in 2012.
Ireland was not my first choice and I knew very little about it before I arrived. I guessed it would be like London; but there was a warmth here, and a balanced pace of life, that appealed to me. When my three months were up, I wanted to stay.
Little did I know that I would be here seven years later with two young children born in Ireland, Avyaan and Samaira.
When I said I would like to stay on, the partners in Dublin were very encouraging and advised me to have an honest conversation with the Mumbai office, so there was a smooth transition. I also did not want to upset anyone, but thankfully the Mumbai office was very supportive and in a few months, my critical skills visa was sorted out and I started work at our Harcourt Street office in Dublin.
My wife, Seema, also worked for EY in Mumbai so she transferred shortly after, and now we work in the same office.
She works in the tax team and I work in assurance so there is no professional overlap. It has ended up being very handy for working out family arrangements, as whoever is the busiest can stay on and the other can pick up the children.
I have responsibility for leading teams working on the audits of Irish and global financial companies in the payments and banking area. I also have various in-house activities like supporting development of junior colleagues, and designing more innovative and efficient ways to deliver client audits.
You do need to be good at time management so you can respond to the many off-the-cuff enquiries, while still completing the tasks on your to-do list.
The audits are time-sensitive so you have to be smart with allocating your attention. We are in the busy period until the end of April/May, so I will often log on and work from home a bit later.
You don’t have that quick connect of, say, both of you going to UCD or Smurfit Business School, but different client breakfasts and industry sessions make it easy to make new connections and grow your network.
Not having attended university in Ireland does not hold you back professionally now, maybe it would have a decade ago.
In Mumbai, drinking is more a party idea but in Dublin, pubs are so integrated into the culture, both on the work and personal front. Irish people tend to prefer to stand up in pubs and have an endless quota of varied topics to chat about, which makes it easy for their foreign colleagues to join in.
Culturally, desk eating is a strict no-no in India and people usually take proper, dedicated lunch breaks.
Sharing food with people on the table is also a very common scene, both in work and social life, which I don’t see happening much here in Ireland. In that sense, meals in Ireland are more a private affair where you order your own, eat your own, pay for your own. In India, it is more communal.
After six years living in the city centre, we moved to Adamstown in west Dublin and have settled in well. Weekends, I take my son to his activities. We play badminton together and I take him swimming. He also plays cricket, and how widespread the sport is here was unexpected.
Both our families often visit us; my mum recently was here for six months and took Samaira to India on her way back home for a few months. My son wanted to go too – he loves to visit India – but he is in school now so will have to wait until the holidays.
Everything closes early in the evenings and my son often complains that you can’t wear shorts as often here in Ireland.
But the air is fresher and we love to go walking by the canals and hiking in Wicklow.
We find that people here are very friendly and we both enjoy our work. Living in Mumbai, it is more of a struggle for both parents to work full-time, as there are longer hours in the office and you spend more time commuting.
We do miss India at times and living nearer family but, for now, we’re happy here.
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