They say 60 is the new 50, and more and more Aussies are being encouraged to stay in the workforce for longer. So, is this the future for retirement? And would you consider up-skilling or changing careers later in life?
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We meet three Aussies who say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hanna Frederick, 68, Chocolatiere
She’s a PhD in chemistry and has worked in the field since she was 23, but it wasn’t until Hungarian-born Hanna Frederick was in her 60s that she decided to pursue her true calling for food.
“I can’t imagine not working. I love my independence,” said Hanna, who clocks up to 17 hours some days, including weekends, to keep her business running.
The self-proclaimed ‘Madame Chocolat of Melbourne’ made the switch from science to sweets in 2006 and opened the doors to her European-inspired café, Mamor Chocolates, in September 2010.
“I had a dream for 10 years that I would have my shop. I started working part-time as a chocolatiere and I’m very good with people, so that was my dream.”
Having grown up in Hungary, Hanna says entrepreneurship was not an option early on in her career. “In Hungary this was forbidden. There was no business.”
Since then, Hanna has lived and worked in Europe, the US and New Zealand in various roles from chemistry, to business, to government, while raising two children along the way.
“I came from Hungary with $20 in my pocket and I never inherited a penny, but my father told me that what’s between your ears nobody can take away,” she said.
She says that if you have the stamina and passion, there’s no reason to stop doing what you enjoy. “I love what I do. I can’t say I’ll be able to do it all the time but you can’t focus on what you can’t do, instead focus on what you can do.
“Your mind can be as young as you want, and if you are eating some sinful chocolate along the way, than why not?”
Gerry Pennisi, 75, Company Director
Lawyer-turned-company director, Gerry Pennisi from Brisbane, refuses to stop going to work because he says it keeps his mind sharp.
“I’m seeking to exercise my mind as much as possible. You can’t underestimate, in my opinion, the rate at which your mental capacity declines or reduces [in retirement],” he said. “People shouldn’t retire while they have the capacity to do something.
“Hobbies are important. But you can’t just wake up and think, well what do I do today.” Even though Gerry has no plans to scale back his work hours, he says he still manages to carve out time to relax every now and then.
“Some days I may go for a long lunch, but the point is tomorrow and the day after I’m coming in for work again. “You may travel around for a while but eventually you’re going around in bloody circles,” he said.
According to the Queenslander, who has been working since the age of 15, putting off retirement also makes financial sense. “If you’re not maintaining some sort of income, you’re going backwards. I don’t believe you can run on the spot. In life you can’t stand still,” he said.
“I can never say I’m bored with my life. If anyone wants me to leave, they will need an order to have me removed. I believe I’ll know when it’s time to go.”
Jane Doogan, 69, Real Estate Agent
Jane Doogan from the Gold Coast loves what she does. The experienced Sales Associate, who turns 70 next month, fell into real estate in her early 40s and has not once looked back.
“I’ve got a job I absolutely love, with wonderful people, and most of the time you’re making people’s dreams come true,” said Jane, who has earned an enviable reputation among her colleagues as a top selling agent.
Jane says she’s too driven and passionate about her job to ever retire. “My boss here says that I have more energy than the young ones. “I go to every training session there is. You never stop learning. I’m also very lucky that the culture is quite phenomenal,” she said.
Jane works on average 60 hours per week, which includes volunteering once a week at a support centre. She starts most days with a half hour gym session at home, and manages to play golf once a week.
According to Jane, baby boomers make great employees. “We have a far better work ethic, we’re not going to get pregnant, we don’t take sick days and tend to be more grateful for a position. “My boss is 20 years younger than me and that doesn’t bother me. . . I think we all have things to learn and impart, it’s a two way street.”
She also encourages more women to get back into the workforce. “I think women, especially in later years, are undervalued. We have a lot to contribute. Men tend to continue working a little longer, whereas women tend to think they need to be grandmothers and child minders,” she said.
“My glass is always half full and I want to pack as much into this life. No day is ever the same. “I have no desire to go caravanning around Australia.”
Would you put off retirement for a career change? Join the conversation below.