The best of both worlds: Belfast rediscovered
Everybody loves a win-win. Daniel, a Tax Advisor in our fast-growing Belfast Tax team, shares some of the pleasant surprises from his career move back home.
If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be moving my tax career from London back to Belfast, I might not have believed you. After growing up in a seaside town just outside Belfast, I moved away in search of new experiences. This involved studying for four years at Sheffield University followed by three years in London on the graduate programme of another Big Four professional services firm.
As much as I enjoyed the buzz of London life, a combination of factors – including a long commute, frequent trips home and the pipe dream of home-ownership – caused me to consider the benefits of moving back to Northern Ireland. I thought compromise would be part of the deal. But since joining the EY Belfast team in 2017, my experience has shown me otherwise.
Here are four ways I’m now getting the best of both worlds.
City: Familiar AND metropolitan
The biggest surprise when I moved back was seeing just how much the city has changed while I’ve been away. It’s got a real energy to it – that up-and-coming feel. Every corner seems to be bustling with cafés, restaurants, bars and those quirky little establishments you get so used to in London.
At the same time, the city is small, friendly and easy to get to know. Reconnecting with my old Belfast friends has made the transition pretty seamless, too. I’m even sharing a house with one of my old school friends!
Opportunities: Local AND global
I’m very impressed with the career opportunities and quality of work here in Belfast, for example one sales tax and VAT project I’m on right now covers a range of countries – from Holland and Norway to Singapore – so there’s a real global outlook. I don’t see the location being any disadvantage at all.
EY stands out in that it works with so many big British, Irish and global clients from this office. The firm is really well integrated so, no matter where you are, you have the same opportunities.
Culture: Entrepreneurship AND community
The Big Four professional services firms are similar in many ways, so it’s refreshing to discover the nuances that make each one different. At EY, one of those things is an entrepreneurial spirit. When I’ve had ideas, I’ve been encouraged to run with them. It’s a level of trust that feels very rewarding.
You have opportunities to step out but you’re never on your own. There’s a friendly culture here, with good banter and a strong social scene. I found it very easy to settle back in.
Lifestyle: Busy days AND free evenings
I enjoy the pace of working life here. We work hard and the days are never boring. At the same time, people are conscious that you have a life outside of work. I live just a 20-minute walk from the office, so I have time for dedicated activities in the evening again, like yoga or dinner with friends.
And when the weekends come around, national parks and the Mourne Mountains are less than an hour away. I love exploring the outdoors with my dog, so being able to escape to the countryside so quickly is a huge benefit.