PeopleNew to the Parish

‘The Irish sense of humour makes communications a lot easier’

Aarthi Kumar came to Dublin in 2021

Aarthi Kumar was born in south India and studied accountancy, having always loved mathematics. In 2009, she accidentally fell into the field of data science and has not looked back.

She moved to Belgium with her husband, Sreenivas Anantha Rangaswamy, in 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and stayed there for almost two years working in data science and artificial intelligence (AI).

But there was something missing, says Kumar. “Not being able to find a belonging because of the language gap and the cultural gap and everything, and then that was a harder struggle for my husband and settling down in his career because he’s [in] manufacturing,” she says.

“At least for me, because I’m in the field of AI, I could get away with not knowing the local language, but that wasn’t the case for him, and we were thinking about either moving back to India or what we should do.


“All of a sudden we just had like a pop up in our mind saying, ‘why not try Ireland?’ English is also a language here, and that is a good thing for us.”

Kumar began applying for jobs and “got one immediately”, working for EY Ireland in data and analytics, and the couple made the move to Dublin in October 2021.

Her husband also found a job he liked not long after their arrival, and after staying in company-provided accommodation for three weeks, the couple moved into a rented home in Sandyford.

The location gives her the best of both worlds – with a quiet neighbourhood experience, but the ability to get into the city when she wants quite quickly on the Luas, while the area is also close to scenic Co Wicklow.

Kumar says Ireland is more than she expected it to be.

“Me and my husband are like mid-30s, career is really important, and also that’s the reason why we moved and wanted to live in another country, experience what it means by living in that country, feeling part of the society or the city over here. From that aspect it’s definitely more than I expected, because it just took me a few months to settle in,” she says.

“As a data scientist, I always get scared to say things like ‘forever’, because there are a lot of things in that it’s not in our control, but definitely as long as things are in my control, I see myself staying here for a long duration.”

One thing she struggled with upon moving to Ireland, however, was the weather, having grown up in south India, “a very tropical place” with “very predictable weather”.

“Ten months of summer and two months of monsoon is all we have, those are pretty much the seasons for us, there is no spring, winter, autumn, so that way it took me time to settle in terms of weather, of course coming from 40 degrees to like 4 degrees, there’s a stark difference,” she says, laughing.

“The reason I moved out of India is when I turned 30, I was like, I’ve been living in this country for so long, I want to change my perspective. I want to try out different things and see what I like and what I don’t like.

“I also felt like I was getting too pampered or too complacent being in India, so I wanted to move out, first to Belgium and then to Ireland to explore what it is like to live outside home, learn, adapt and all of those things,” she says.

Many things are done differently in India and Ireland, says Kumar, but “there are pros and cons”.

“[In India] you have an app to order food at like two in the night, or you can pretty much as we say like Swiggy [an Indian online food ordering and delivery platform] everything. That’s not the same here, but that has also put us into some kind of a discipline in that you don’t binge-eat in the middle of the night and [instead] have healthy habits,” she says, laughing.

However, Kumar can be herself here, she stresses, “especially when it comes to the perspective of like a conservative society in India versus over here from a career perspective”.

“I feel like from the gender equality [perspective], I get a lot more opportunities here. There is no discrimination or any bias from what I have experienced so far. I could definitely see my voice being welcomed at the table.”

Kumar and her husband have been on numerous road trips around the country, including to Donegal, Connemara and Cork, and says that no matter where they have been, they have always felt welcomed.

“That’s something that I’m really, really amazed at. Wherever you drive in the country, you always have people who are out there to help you. If you’re lost somewhere, not able to follow the map, the online map stopped working, you can just stop by and ask someone, and they’ll always be there to help you,” she says.

That and the Irish sense of humour, paired with the different accents she encounters across the country, are some of her favourite things about Irish people.

“That sense of humour actually makes stuff pretty easy, as in, even if someone has to say something, when it is with a bit of sense of humour, it makes the communications a lot easier,” she says.

If you’re rigid, it’s very difficult to adapt wherever the country. Even if you’re in the most perfect country, you can find things to complain [about]”

There have been no negative experiences for Kumar so far in Ireland; she says that she does not feel like she is from here, but “feeling different is not always wrong”.

“I have always had a very good experience, but I do feel different, like when at a coffee conversation someone is talking about the local sports or local reality shows. I feel like, ‘Do I know that?’, but that’s fine. I guess it’s what I signed up for. As in, that’s what made me leave India to explore what it is living outside,” she says.

Kumar attended the Irish vs Italy Six Nations game in the Aviva Stadium on February 11th, her first rugby game, and learned about the rules of 24 hours beforehand, when she was offered a ticket by a friend. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Since moving to Ireland, Kumar has been promoted from a senior manager in EY to data and analytics director, and is a Women in Data Science ambassador.

She voluntarily mentors young women and minorities in data science, and says it helps her integrate with other women in her industry, and enables her to give back, because “someone was there” for her when she needed them, and she is still in contact with her mentors today.

Kumar sets aside four hours every weekend to meet her mentees, helping them write CVs, apply for jobs, work on projects or theses, and provides an “industry view, looking at it from an application perspective and marry it with a theoretical perspective”.

Kumar also says that mindset is an important part of moving countries.

“As much as Ireland should be welcoming expats, the expats should also have a right mindset to move to another country. I could sit here and complain about thinking of things in India, but I am here willing to change as much as Ireland is willing to give me,” she says.

“The mindset of the people who are moving in here as well, is that if you’re rigid, it’s very difficult to adapt wherever the country. Even if you’re in the most perfect country, you can find things to complain [about]”.

“But there is a meeting each other halfway to everything – whether it’s marriage, whether it’s work, or whether it is moving to a country, it’s being open and being able to accept and change.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email or tweet @newtotheparish