I retired at the age of 60.
It was not without much thought and planning though. And it certainly wasn’t because I was unhappy in my job. Nestlé afforded me what I would consider a rewarding career path over a 35-year span.
I remember it so clearly that interview with Nestlé at the Long Circular Mall, 1985, with my first and one of my very best Nestlé managers, Mr. George Rampersad, Corporate Affairs Manager – May he Rest in Peace. I had heard through the grapevine that Nestlé was looking for a bilingual secretary and I was elated, for I had just spent two years in Europe learning French and Spanish after finishing a Secretarial course in Trinidad – a stipulation from my Dad who wasn’t too sure where this French and Spanish quest would take me. On my return home 2 years prior, I secured what I thought was the perfect job at the French Embassy, a stone’s throw away from my home, as a bilingual secretary. Shortened working hours, nice salary, nice people. Bingo – I was set.
But as it happens, life changes, and you want more. More challenge, more responsibility and let’s face it, more money. But I digress.
I arrived at the Nestlé office, unannounced, and presented myself for the job. Which I then discovered had not even been advertised – the grapevine had obviously given me a head start. The HR Manager was a bit confused as to how I knew about the job but was kind enough to ask the hiring manager if he had a moment to chat with me.
That was my last interview in life. A simple, who are you, what have you been doing, what are your hobbies, and a few days later I was offered the job. I often think back on this experience and compare it to the current hiring process. And I shake my head with a chuckle, and horror as I am not sure I would perform as well as I did back in the day. I like to think though that Mr. Rampersad was a very intuitive man who understood clearly from our very brief conversation that I would give Nestlé the best of my years. I was honest, hardworking and would seek their best interest until retirement do us part.
And he was right. I gave Nestlé everything I had – my time, my brain, my energy, my passion. And in return, Nestlé afforded me the opportunity to grow, to learn, to raise and educate 3 sons along the way, to fulfil my passions as they developed throughout my career through the areas of Consumer Services and Corporate Communications. Giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many through their philanthropic activities. Develop my communication skills both verbal and written, interact with persons at all different levels of society, teaching me through experience the virtues of listening, watching and learning. I made appearances on television and radio understanding the importance of representing my Company with a calm professionalism aligned to their values. I was privileged to lead professionals of varying stages of their life, of all walks of life. Nestlé’s vision for health and wellness and caring for future generations, was perfectly aligned with my own aspirations of leading a healthy and meaningful lifestyle and I truly believed that I was making a difference. On top of that, I had the opportunity to meet people from different cultures travelling for conferences and workshops – fulfilling one of my dreams. What more could you ask of a career with the #1 Food, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company in the world.
I was happy. Stressed. Frustrated. Needed more ‘me’ time. Exhausted. Struggled to achieve work life harmony. Like most people I guess. But I was also fulfilled. I had given of my best and I was aptly rewarded both financially and emotionally.
Spending the final year of your career as Head of Communications during a pandemic, is not exactly the way I imagined it. I imagined the closing off of some wonderful projects, the handing over of my duties in the final stages as a breeze. That was only a dream. But true to my commitment to Nestlé, I remained steadfast in my determination to do the best I could to ensure continued success of the organisation through my team and my successor.
At the end of it all I was ready to start my new chapter in my life. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, with my deadlines, my objectives, my goals. My family had grown and is still growing. I wanted flexibility of time to enjoy the fruits of my hard work and dedication not only to Nestlé but to my family as well. Simply put, I wanted control of my life. Visit my grandchildren when I wanted and for as long as I wanted. Plain and simple.
And so, I retired at the age of 60.
And after one year of much rest and introspection (Covid-inspired), I have started that new chapter with much fervour. I have rekindled my love of reading and writing. I am exploring many different hobbies and I am travelling as I wish to.
Do I miss working full time?
Do I miss the people I worked with?
Most definitely but I know that time permitting at their end, we can always catch up
What do I do with my days?
Whatever I want to or don’t want to do
Am I happily retired?
Do I have any goals in life?
Most certainly – to stay as focussed on the present as much as possible