Almost 4 months in and San Francisco is starting to feel a little more like home, but of course we are still having plenty of “first time” experiences. First doctor and dentist visits went smoothly. My first St Patrick’s Day was an eye opener as San Francisco embraced our national holiday; people piled into the streets after work for street parties, fancy dress and some craic!

People were really impressed when they discovered you were a real Irish person! The first time driving cannot be said to have gone quite as smoothly – key tip: only use one foot when driving an automatic…using both feet and treating the brake like a clutch creates a seriously bumpy driving experience! This being said, I think we are definitely starting to settle in.

The business community in San Fran

The city is a hive of business and economic activity and it is not unusual to overhear people discussing fundraising and company valuations when waiting for your coffee! It has been great to get to know the team here based in Grant Thornton, both locally in San Francisco and the wider California team. I joined the California team for a strategy day and it was fantastic to hear about the breadth and depth of experience which my US colleagues have.

A clear message which came through during these sessions was that practically all our clients, both US and Irish, are influenced or are operating globally and Grant Thornton is working collaboratively through our international offices to help companies with the challenges this can bring. In particular, the team here has a great appreciation and understanding of the strength of the economic relationship between Ireland and the US and the benefit we can bring to our clients by offering a global solution.

A few female colleagues in the office have introduced me to a local woman in finance network and I am really looking forward to getting involved in that group and hopefully spreading more knowledge on what Ireland can offer as a business location.

As the days and weeks roll by, I am finding my bearings and have pinpointed some favourite haunts in the city, from restaurants to coffee shops, nail salons to gym classes – all very important parts of San Francisco living (well in my opinion!). Here are few key lessons which I have learned so far:

  1. It’s San Francisco or SF – saying San Fran is a telling sign that you are not in the city too long!;
  2. Bring a jacket – Blue skies and sunshine can quickly make way for cold fog. Be prepared;
  3. Embrace your Irishness – The accent is unmissable, but people love to hear about Ireland and love to hear about the opportunities Ireland can offer for businesses;
  4. Drop the suit – dress code is casual for all aspects of California life. Jeans for the office and yoga pants for the weekend; and
  5. The city makes you fitter – the steep hills and general get fit/outdoors cultures means you don’t have a choice in catching the fitness bug!

I hope the next 4 months go by as smoothly. I am looking forward to learning more about my new home and meeting new people. I’m sure there are still plenty of ‘firsts’ around the corner.

Until next time!