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Alumni in Action

Alumni Webinar Series: Thriving in Retirement

By Sadie Schernikau

December 8, 2021

Entering retirement can be a difficult adjustment. The momentum of your career doesn’t have to come to a full stop once you reach this milestone. While it may seem different, there are many ways to find rich and fulfilling opportunities outside of a full-time career. During this webinar, retired Business Badgers Nancy Ballsrud (MBA ’75), Roger Ervin (MBA ’09), and Ann Schwister (BBA ’89) offer advice for those looking for ways to thrive during their post-career stage.

Get involved on a board

Joining a board is a great way to stay involved during your post-career stage. When deciding what kind of board to get involved with, ask yourself if you want to try something new, or use the skills honed during your career to add value from your industry. Make sure you understand the time commitment between meetings, committee work, and optional responsibilities like chairing a committee. Ballsrud suggests starting small to get your foot in the door, and taking on more responsibility when you feel you’re ready. If you’re hoping to join a corporate board, Schwister stresses the importance of patience and networking. It might take a while to find the right fit.

Find a mentorship opportunity

Mentoring is a great use of time and skill during retirement. It’s a way to give back and see others benefit from lessons you’ve already learned. Before becoming a mentor, think about if it’s the right fit for you. Ervin suggests looking for mentees at community organizations, corporations you are or were involved with, or within the UW–Madison community. After finding a mentee, it’s also important to set parameters about what the mentorship entails so it can be effective for both parties.

Try your hand at guest lecturing or teaching

Guest lecturing and teaching are valuable ways to contribute your knowledge and expertise to the younger generation. To start, identify what your core competency is and determine how it can be scaled into a course. All of our panelists suggest starting small by guest lecturing first before deciding if you’d like to have a more structured teaching commitment. Ervin mentions that teaching isn’t something to take lightly. It’s a large responsibility to be in charge of what students are learning and requires significant preparation.

Nancy Ballsrud (MBA ‘75) retired in 2008 after a 34-year career with Cargill, primarily in international finance. Since retirement Ballsrud has shifted her focus to nonprofit board management, consulting, and guest lecturing on currency risk management at the Wisconsin School of Business and other universities. She has served on several boards including the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Board, the Board of Visitors at the Veterinary School of Medicine at UW–Madison, and is also a member of the UW Women’s Philanthropy Council.

Roger Ervin (MBA ’09) is an accomplished global operating executive with experience in the public and private sectors. He recently retired as president and chief executive officer of Blumont, a leading government contractor, and was secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue from 2007 to 2011. Ervin is currently an adjunct associate professor of public affairs at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW–Madison.

Ann Schwister (BBA ’89) served as vice president and chief financial officer at Procter & Gamble, and vice president and CFO at Global Oral Care prior to her retirement. Schwister was responsible for creating strategies to win in the rapidly changing North America digital and traditional retail environment. Her passion is helping organizations grow sustainably. She currently serves on the boards of PARTS iD (NYSE American: ID) chairing the audit committee, Haskell, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation chairing the community strategies committee. She is also an emeritus member of the WSB Dean’s Advisory Board as well as the WSB Diversity Advisory Board.