Ailie Dewar, Client Accountant – Funds is based in our Belfast office. She joined IQ-EQ during the pandemic lockdown. Ailie is on the CHESS Environment Committee and earlier this year, led her team on a volunteering day to plant trees in the Belfast Hills.
In June 2022, Ailie went on secondment to our Luxembourg office, where she was able to assist the team there with a specific client’s year-end reporting and process improvements.
We asked her to share her experiences.
What were your first impressions of Luxembourg?
I was blown away by how classic European style had been mixed with smart, modern buildings and vast areas of lush leafy green space in Luxembourg. A path looping around the city centre in the higher plateau gives you views down an idyllic old-town below with a river running through and beautiful cathedrals and courtyard restaurants. It was really stunning.
What did you think of the Luxembourg office?
IQ-EQ’s Luxembourg office is very cool. It’s a tower in an up-and-coming business district called Gasperich. For now, it’s right on the edge so you can still watch farmers working on their fields from up on the 6th floor! The office is full of life and very busy. All employees are back to the office full time now, so every space is filled and there are conversations going on in several different languages around you. For the two days I kept track, there was: Italian, French, Romanian, Tagalog and Creole. I have been told that the Luxembourg office has employees coming from 39 different countries! It was a truly diverse and multicultural group.
What did you learn about the Luxembourg team?
They are incredibly busy – they have a huge number of clients and typically have to orchestrate multiple service lines per client and ensure that everyone is working together to ensure deadlines are met on time and in the right order. I gained some really interesting insight into both the similarities and differences between our offices, and what we can learn from each other. Mostly, I was just grateful and relieved to find that everyone in the office was so lovely and welcoming.
What did you do in your free time?
During my time in Luxembourg I walked to every possible view-point, visited art galleries and museums, did an underground tour of the city’s old defence fortifications called the Petrusse Casemates, went wine tasting on the banks of the Moselle river with Germany just on the other side, watched Luxembourg draw against the Faroe Islands in the Euros, listened to Rag n Bone Man and Emilie Sandé play a free concert in the city centre, watched the most incredible annual firework display off the Pont Adolphe to celebrate the birthday of Grand Duke Henri (Luxembourg is the world’s only remaining sovereign grand duchy so he is their monarch) and then actually saw Grand Duke Henri in the flesh when he joined me and a few thousand others at the “Cathedral Notre-Dame” for a musical performance.
You are passionate about the environment. Were there initiatives that you saw in Luxembourg that could be implemented in Belfast?
In the office they had a competition running to grow plants in the office, although there was still no clear winner during my visit, all the little saplings were basically identical. The Lux office also has its own café and restaurant, and I was thrilled to find a huge selection of vegan and vegetarian options there that were really delicious.
Across the whole country of Luxembourg public transport is free. It was the most amazing thing to see. It ran smoothly, was used and respected by everyone and hugely reduced the amount of congestion and emissions in the city centre. You’d be forgiven for thinking that in a country with one of the highest GDP per capita that everyone would be driving around in their Lamborghinis but no, in Luxembourg everyone just popped on the tram!
What would you say to someone considering a secondment?
I would really encourage it. It was such a good opportunity to understand IQ-EQ in a more global context. All you need to do is be willing to step outside your comfort zone and take that risk.
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