Atheer Kareem recently started at Iress as a software engineer through the Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) program. We spoke to him about his long journey to Australia, how he’s bringing his Ramadan traditions to his new home country, and why he’s a fan of Melbourne’s rivers, parks and climbing walls. Through our partnership with TBB, we gain valuable experience from great candidates like Atheer and enable displaced people to rebuild their lives and careers in a new country.

Atheer, welcome to Iress! Tell us, about your role?

I joined Iress’s Melbourne team in March as a software engineer working on ViewPoint - one of our share trading products.

Can you share a little about your journey to get here?

I moved to Jordan as a refugee in 2014 after leaving Iraq as a displaced person. I was told about Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) from a friend in 2017 and at that time I was working in networking engineering. In 2019 I spent several months learning software development and updated my details with TBB. As I didn’t have a work permit in Jordan there are more opportunities for software development which I could freelance. In mid-2021 I heard about the opportunity with Iress as I matched with their need for front-end developer skills. After three interviews I was successful in my current role.

We are in the month of Ramadan, which will be your first in Australia. Can you share a little about what it means to you?

Ramadan is a holy month for muslims (God’s month). In Islamic tradition, God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad the Qurʾān, Islam’s holy book, “as a guidance for the people.” For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer in the mosque, and reading of the Qurʾān. God forgives the past sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention. For me, it’s also about family. We feel the blessings of the food after not having anything to eat or drink after nearly 12 hours. As my family is in Iraq, at the beginning of Ramadan I share pictures of the food I make with my family and I feel they are with me. Australia is a new country and culture for me and I miss simple things like the TV shows we used to watch when breaking fast during Ramadan.

We know that food plays an important role during Ramadan. What do you love to eat when breaking your fast?

Usually, my favourite food to eat after breaking fast is anything cooked by my mum! I also love kubba halab (which are crunchy, football-shaped balls, with delicious ground beef or lamb filling in a shell made from a mixture of rice and potatoes) and chicken biryani.

You’ve been in Melbourne for a few months now. What do you like most about your new home city?

My favourite things about living in Melbourne are the public transport, taking walks through the parks and by the Yarra River, doing the park run and all the free sporting facilities, like boulder walls. I’m also discovering Sydney Road in Brunswick for restaurants and playing ultimate frisbee.

And what about working at Iress?

There’s so many to mention! I love the social gatherings at Iress and how on Friday we get together and play table tennis. The environment is relaxed and it’s a flexible structure. We can sit anywhere in the office and I've enjoyed meeting new people and working with my team. Udemy Learning is also a really great feature we have access to. Like everyone else, I also love the Long Weekend initiative that Iress has, as well as the volunteering opportunities - I have already registered to volunteer at Foodbank in May.