Founder of Savvy.ie and native of Ashbourne, Shane Connors, told The Epoch Times about his emigrating to the Czech Republic in 2009 after being made redundant, and how it helped him set up his current business.
“The area of expertise that I worked in hadn’t a whole load of activity back in 2009, and when I was offered a role with an Irish-owned business overseas, I took it,” said Connors, referring to his two years in the Czech Republic.
“Initially I was over and back, commuting, but I eventually took the plunge and moved there on a full-time basis for the best part of 18 months. I came back in 2012 when the economy was starting to pick up. I had managed to retain some good contacts here in the intervening period, and was able to pick up some business when I came home.
“I felt that it was the right time to come back because the banks were starting to look at restructuring in a serious way from 2012 and that suited the business I was in, so the time was right to come home,” he says. Connors explained that he had no direct ties with Ireland apart for extended family, which made the transitions relatively easily.
On the Decision to Leave
“It’s always tough to leave Ireland, but considering that it was an Irish company I was going to work for, that made it somewhat easier, and moving to a country that is not that far away geographically—a couple of hours flight—made things easier. However, the weather and language took getting used to. When you go to Eastern Europe, not that many people speak English–particularly when you get out of the major cities, not many speak English. That was a real culture shock…I tried to pick up some of the local lingo but it was difficult,” said Connors.
On Emigrating long-term
Shane Connors left for a contract position, so he never felt that he was leaving Ireland forever. “In my mind it was always an interim step to help me finance my commitments in Ireland—there’s a lot to be said for a regular salary every month, which at the time was very important. So it was always with a view to returning to Ireland that I took the job.
“I always think that going overseas and seeing how business is done elsewhere or even how people react differently socially is a great benefit. It puts things into perspective…when I came back it showed me that, yes, for all its faults and for all the difficulties that Ireland has experienced over the past years, it’s nothing to the problems people face elsewhere. In general, we do have a very good infrastructure, and the standard of living here for the average person is good compared to other countries. I’m glad to be home, and thankful that Ireland is my home,” he said.
Doing Business in Ireland
According to Shane Connors, doing business in Ireland is definitely easier that abroad. “You have a more developed legal structure in Ireland, you have a better-educated workforce, and while there are a lot of large and successful companies over there [in the Czech Republic], it’s definitely easier to do business here. The tax is only one side of it: access to good advice, access to networks of people, access to a good workforce…that’s all easier here, but I would say that if you are trading in mainland Europe, then the ability to speak foreign languages is a big thing that we are generally bad at in Ireland. English is our main trading language, but when you go to Eastern Europe, most people speak two or more languages very well, but they may not have the skills in other areas that we have in spades over here,” he said.