Thoughts about Retirement, IBM and What’s Next

Fun times in Austin: Catching up with one of my work colleagues after 25 years

Fun times in Austin: Catching up with a former work colleague after 25 years

For 32 years, since the day I walked out of college with one of the first, freshly minted computer science degrees, I have worked for IBM. My first manager, Al Goodwin, showed up on my university campus, he offered me a job as a product developer, and I accepted. Pat and I left Michigan for Kingston, New York; I graduated Friday and started work Monday morning. We had no money, hence no option to take time off.

In those days, IBM was the hallmark of a paternalistic company; full employment, free medical insurance, family day fairs, and Christmas extravaganzas. Christmas was my favorite – Broadway caliber shows in a local theater put on just for us. At the end, Santa handed a gift to each child – a big, beautifully wrapped package. And everything was free.

Our career largesse knew no boundaries, and we never envisioned an end.

But it did end. Actually, it crashed. Times changed. IBM barely survived. We began to pay for a part of our insurance, family day and the Christmas party – canceled, and the layoffs started. For many, the end of full employment was the most bitter change of all.

One day, we called our departments together to share a letter from the company announcing one of the first layoffs. My peer manager, a big bear of a man with over 30 years experience, read the letter to our combined teams. Half way through he stopped, raised his glasses and rubbed his eyes, then broke down and wept. I sat frozen, unable to look at the stunned faces next to me. And for the first time, I understood how deeply the changes in IBM affected long term employees.

But my father owned a very small business with no benefits. As long as I received paid vacation and any form of medical insurance support, I felt supremely fortunate. Through all the ups and downs, IBM and I maintained a very simple, if unspoken, agreement. I worked and they paid me – no more, no less. And for 32 years, we each upheld our end of the bargain.

Through our time together, IBM has helped raise three kids and send them all to college. It bought houses, paid for vacations and put food on our table. How can I be anything short of thankful?

But the time has come to move on. I have planned for, dreamed of and awaited this day for years. It has never been about leaving IBM (OK, some days it was all about leaving IBM – but hang on, I’m making a bigger point). I have goals beyond this one and only career. With our three kids grown, the time has come where I can take risk. And that is exactly what I intend to do.

This day is simultaneously scary and invigorating, excruciating and exciting. I have zero regrets. In spite of a mess of emotions, today – my final day as an IBMer – is filled with nothing but dreams and hope, thanks and fond memories.

The World in Between starts right now. Everything prior to this moment has been rehearsal. Today, I will hand in my badge, walk out the door, and not once glance back. It’s time.

Categories: Ruminations

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25 replies

  1. Congrats!!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using only thumbs


  2. Julie, Enjoy it! If there is anyone I know that will live their retirement to the fullest, its you! I am happy and envious at the same time! Hope to stay in touch! Congrats!!!

  3. No need to be sad but keep the best IBM memories close to your heart as you seek out new adventures and “boldly go where no man has gone before”. I can’t help myself from dropping one last Star Trek quote “Live Long and Prosper”, Julie! I will miss you.

  4. Congratulations Julie! Excited to see where this next chapter takes you and Pat!

  5. I remember those days of IBM – I remember how I was treated when Rob was sick – it was nothing short of amazing and incredibly generous! But, sadly it all changed. The current generation will not have the same work experience as you and Rob and other “old timers” did bc no one treats employees like IBM did in those days. I, too, offer you Congratulations and wish you the best in retirement. Holy cow, you are now retired!

  6. As a long time blog follower and someone close to retirement too, I congratulate you and applaud your years of longevity….wow, 32 is a testimonial of dedication and fortitude. Enjoy your new chapter.
    Ellen Goldstein

  7. Congratulations Julie! I am looking forward to reading your Blog. If I remember correctly between the Friday you got your diploma and the Monday you went to work you also got married. My memory may not be 100% correct but it was pretty close. Enjoy and hope to see Pat and you in the near future.

  8. Congratulations, Julie and Mr. Pat because this day is for both of you. Julie, for being a warrior of the corporate fashion and Pat for being a warrior of the child rearing/volunteering/ community service fashion. I ad,ire you both beyond believe and wish. You a long and beautiful retirement adventure. I am so grateful our paths crossed. Go HEELS!

  9. BTW – we would have never met you had it not been for Tom’s “lazy ass” workout regime at Buchanan! Haha!!!😄😢

    • Funny, but I just did an “intervention” with Pat. Had to explain that talking to someone working out does not equal a workout. Tom brought lots of people together, though. So lazy ass workouts are sometimes OK…

  10. I am so happy for you and Pat starting a new chapter in your lives! Retirement is lovely! Look forward to following your blog! I am your husbands cuz! We have met long ago! Enjoy and may you continue to live life to its fullest!

  11. I wish you both all the best for the big journey starting right now Julie! I strongly believe that connections (not Connections :-D) are the most important in life, and I’m sure you can keep the important ones and make many new ones too in this new life of yours.
    I strongly hope you will let me know if you are anywhere nearby us! You can count on some good company and food any time you pop up – our home is always open for you! 🙂

  12. Congratulations! It only gets better from now on. Now, it’s “theworldafter”, and it’s going to be gggrreeeaattt!!! 🙂


  1. A Year in Retirement – The World In Between

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