Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?
Although it was not my choice to retire, I left as part of a roughly 10% reduction in the R&D staff. I had strongly been considering when to retire, and I felt I was treated very well and received full retirement benefits. A severance package bridged me to full social security retirement age.
How was the transition from the working world to retirement?
The transition was abrupt; I would have liked a more gradual transition to enable more complete project transfers. Additionally, not having the day-to-day interactions with colleagues and chemistry challenges and took some adjustment. On the positive side, this enabled more time to enjoy family, home improvement projects, and fitness. It was a great relief not to have to provide critical feedback and compose performance reviews, especially through another transition.
Looking back, what do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired?
One challenge has been a change to affiliation. After many years working for the same organization, affiliation tends to be tied to your employment. I had been considering retirement for some time, so financial planning was in place. Additionally, it was relatively easy to transition medical coverage.
What do you enjoy most about being retired?
The most enjoyable part of retirement is the minimal deadline pressure. I have had time to focus and be more helpful with home projects, meet with old colleagues and friends, and to read and explore topics outside of my professional focus.
How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree?
I have continued to volunteer with ACS as the awards chair for the Division of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, as a division representative to the Committee on Science, and as a Director for the Chicago local section. I have also helped organize three national meeting symposia in the three years since retirement. However, with no affiliation to a major library, access to the technical literature can be a challenge.
What do you like most about where you are living in retirement? What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live?
We like the area where we have lived for more than 30 years. It has access to excellent medical care, dining options, and arts and entertainment. Until the pandemic limited access, we regularly took advantage of the excellent live theater and dining options in the area. We have also invested considerable time to our garden, which will be hard to leave. Longer term, as we downsize, we will most likely relocate closer to extended family. We will also look for an area that has greater cultural diversity than our current suburban location.
What advice do you have for people who are getting ready to retire?
I would strongly recommend the recorded ACS Webinar: Skydiving into Retirement: How to Actively Manage the Transition from Bill Carroll.
I would also recommend reassessing where you are along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, especially where it relates to self-actualization. Understanding the underlying drivers of what you find fulfilling will help you select, adapt, or substitute various undertakings that invigorate you. If feasible, keep moving and try to maintain focus on those areas for which you are most grateful.
Michael (Mike) Morello was R&D Director Analytical Sciences: Volatile Flavor Analysis/Global R&D Fellow for PepsiCo. Mike and his team leveraged GC-MS and associated techniques to isolate and analyze volatile flavor compounds from beverages and foods. Mike earned his MS in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State University and his BS in Chemistry from Worcester State College. He was a past chair and councilor for the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division, and was selected ACS Fellow in 2013.
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.
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