Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How should you prepare for a career in your 70s?

Donald Trump will be 70 next week and Hillary Clinton will be 69 in October Professor Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, was well over 100 years old when he died. The exact age is subject to dispute; JK Rowling has previously talked about him being 150 (and, as the author, she should know), but her website says that he was born in 1881, making him either 115 or 116 at the end.

One place I hoped to find the exact answer was at Bloomsbury, Rowling’s publishers and the hosts of an excellent party last week to celebrate two of their other authors, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott. The latter are also professors, albeit at the London Business School, and have written a book called The 100-year Life, looking at (among other things) how careers will work in an age when half of today’s children will live beyond 100.

The book does an excellent job of bringing together in a coherent way all the points to consider in a long career — health, wealth and competencies. I have started to realise how many people work on into later life. At the conclusion of a meeting last week, I headed for the tube, along with the person I had met, in full-time employment, who produced a free senior travel pass. Is this a sign of austerity, or fulfilment? Of course, Dumbledore was not alone in carrying on in his job well beyond the time he would have earned a Freedom Pass in the Muggle world.

In the US, people regularly work into their 70s and 80s. Donald Trump will be 70 next week and Hillary Clintonwill be 69 in October, yet both are vying for a job that will be more time consuming than anything either of them have ever done before.

Closer to home, Jeremy Corbyn, aspirant prime minister, is 67, and our head of state is still going strong at the age of 90.

Working later and longer is going to become the norm. Are you prepared for it? Professors Gratton and Scott have usefully included a diagnostic tool on the website for their book, which I dutifully filled in.

It tells me that I am “building my productive and my transformational assets”, and “maintaining my vitality and my tangible assets”. Translated, that sounds like it means I need to exercise and save more, and that I am ready and prepared for the move to my next career.

One of the practical points that Professors Gratton and Scott make in their book is that a long lifetime may mean multiple romantic partners as well as multiple careers. Dumbledore never married. Professor Gratton, who I confess is a role model of mine, (and who introduced me to Herminia Ibarra, the subject of my latest podcast), is engaged to be married to Nigel Boardman, the M&A lawyer, who continues in a long and distinguished career at Slaughter and May.

Both qualify for Freedom Passes, and both are shining examples of long and successful careers. Neither shows any signs of slowing down. I wish them every happiness, with careers as long and as successful as that of Professor Dumbledore.

Credit by Mrs Moneypenny


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