“You can leave the office Friday noon and no one bats an eyelid”
From a suburban town to a ski resort, Sara Hayden traveled the world before finding the perfect work-life balance in Norway.
Originally from Ashbourne, County Meath, Hayden studied science at UCD after completing school in 2001. PhD in Molecular Biology, under the supervision of Professor Emma Teeling.
“It involved performing and analyzing laboratory experiments to explore the diversity of olfactory receptor genes in mammals, including species selection, DNA extraction, PCR and cloning and l DNA sequence analysis.
“I have also managed multidisciplinary scientific projects with internal and external scientists from multidisciplinary fields and presented research at national and international meetings, winning several awards for the best oral presentation.”
A scientist by training, she left UCD in 2011, a decade into her academic career, and accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. “My position as a researcher led me to carry out research in cell biology and to analyze the transport of proteins in photoreceptors, as well as cloning. I also prepared technical reports of laboratory work, while editing scientific manuscripts and surprising undergraduate and graduate researchers.
Despite his academic successes, Hayden used his time in Seattle to consider other opportunities.
“Seattle is a massive tech hub and global companies are based there. I spent a lot of time networking and trying to find careers outside of academia. I really wanted a job and a US visa, but I I struggled to get sponsored The timing of sponsorship and recruitment is crucial in the application process.
After failed attempts and unfortunate timing, in 2014 she decided to join her now husband in Japan.
“He works in the field of cancer immunotherapy and we met in Seattle. His position as a researcher took him to the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the large islands of Japan.
“I didn’t have a job when I landed there, but I was lucky enough to get a teaching job at Ehime Prefectural University of Health Sciences. I worked in the medical department, teaching and coaching students in English and presentation skills, as well as teaching specialized medical language.
His stay in Japan was also an opportunity to learn the language, to immerse himself in the local culture and to discover the hidden slopes of the Japanese hinterland. “I stayed in Japan for a year, enjoying the cultural experience and skiing, but it made me consider my next career change and I decided to return to Ireland in 2015 to work with BSM Lean Consultants, which provides consulting services to pharmaceutical and life science companies globally.
“My work has involved running data models to assess productivity potentials in unique lab environments and leading workshops. I have worked as an operational excellence consultant, using project management skills and in communication to facilitate global projects”,
After Hayden’s husband moved to Ireland from Japan, the couple considered their next move.
“He’s Australian and as we weren’t married at the time it was more difficult to get a work visa. [in Ireland Vanderlande in 2019. The company installs automated material handling systems across Scandinavia, and Hayden leads a service delivery team.
“I get to use my Norwegian and benefit from a healthy work-life balance,” she says. “Norway is a world leader in work-life balance. You can be gone from the office by 4pm or midday on Friday and no one would bat an eyelid. I know things are changing in Ireland too, but they are well ahead [in Norway].”
“We live just outside Oslo. In the winter you can cross country ski after work as we are so close to the hills and forests. It’s affordable too. You pay a small annual fee and then you can go in the evening as the trails are lit.
“Fresh air is fantastic after a day behind the desk. Because Oslo is on a fjord, the outdoor possibilities are endless in both winter and summer. There is always something to do outside and I really appreciate the outdoors being a part of life here.
Hayden forged links with the Irish community and was involved in the establishment of the Irish-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber is focused on driving the green transition in Ireland and Norway by connecting innovative companies from all sectors in both countries.
“It’s the first time I’ve lived abroad and come into contact with Irish people and it’s really great. There is a large community of Irish people here who do a lot of interesting work.
Hayden says life in Norway is as you imagine it. “Norway is a great place to live, especially if you are raising a family. It is a very egalitarian society, where men and women enjoy equal parental leave, which promotes gender balance at home and in the workplace. »