Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?
How was the transition from the working world to retirement?
Initially, it was a relief. I had planned on working three more years: however the company had offered a lucrative retirement package. I discussed the situation with my wife and my financial advisor and decided my future was in a path different from what I would have been asked to do.
I left a situation that was deteriorating with resultant stress on all employees. After a summer of golf and many home projects, I realized I missed the science and interactions with fellow scientists. This led to an approximately five-year stint at Cornell University, with their industrial outreach program and the formation of a consulting business with a friend.
What do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired?
A little more planning would have helped. I do not mean long-term planning. I mean a one to three year horizon. You may find your interests and situation change upon retiring, and your future with them. I know people who had no plan when retiring and found life a little boring after a period of time. Also, have a “home” plan that acknowledges the new rhythms of each member of the household. Open communications about needs and expectations is very important.
How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree?
I represented the Polymer Division as councilor and chaired two Society committees (DAC and M&E). I am now involved with my local section. I also use many of the Society’s journals in my consulting business.
What do you like most about where you are living in retirement?
The weather (four seasons), traveling with my wife, ever-present indoor and outdoor activities, and friends.
What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live?
This depends on perspective. From the chemist’s point of view, an inexpensive, non-polluting replacement for the salt used in the wintertime to deice roads.
What advice do you have for people who are getting ready to retire?
Have a plan. Do not wander into retirement wondering what the future holds. A great partner (which I have) is a blessing. Stay close to family and friends.
John Pochan spent his career working mostly in industry, including stints at Kodak, XEROX and S.C. Johnson & Sons. Not truly ‘retired’, he currently serves as Principal and Co-Founder at Avount Group, LLC. John earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University Of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). He is an ACS Fellow from the class of 2012.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.