Volunteer in the wild.
The last thing he expected was to spend two months in Africa, drawing on his years of experience as executive director of the National Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvement, New York City, and as executive director of the American Iron & Steel Institute's Committee of Tool Steel Producers, Washington, D.C. Yet in 1990, as a volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps, Stamford, Connecticut, Bolduc found himself en route to Botswana to assist an association of building contractors.
"IESC is like a senior Peace Corps. It maintains a skills bank of retired men and women and matches their talent to requests from clients in developing countries," Bolduc explains. "These clients are manufacturers, farms, schools--and in my case, a trade association that was reorganizing and restructuring."
With a background in building products and association management, Bolduc admits, "The assignment fit me like a glove. Of course, before I went to Botswana, I didn't know a thing about the country. I didn't even know where it was," he says.
Struggling to respond
Bolduc found the Texas-sized country in south-central Africa, directly north of South Africa. And he found his client--the Association of Botswana Building and Civil Engineering Contractors--struggling to respond to a rapidly changing society.
"ABCON started about 10 years ago when a few contractors got together," Bolduc says. "Things went fine until a drought dried up the agricultural- and cattle-based economy. In fact, the association became inactive. Then diamond mines came into the picture and turned everything around.
"The country is just now moving into the 20th century," Bolduc continues, "and ABCON's members are involved in building the country--roads, bridges, buildings, homes, factories. The country needs organized methods to make it easier to govern and manage, and that's where the association fits in."
Bolduc devoted the first five weeks of his eight-week assignment to analyzing ABCON's situation and interviewing everyone from government officials to laborers. He found ABCON staffed by volunteers who were often too busy managing their own businesses to manage the association effectively. Important documents, including minutes and financial records, had been housed by a succession of volunteers--and were missing. A spirit of competition rather than cooperation existed between ABCON and another builders' association, diminishing the construction industry's ability to gain support from the government and the public. Furthermore, ABCON had few financial resources to expand its services and thereby attract new members.
His verdict? The association needed "a full-blown management review and overhaul."
Bolduc rolled up his sleeves and prepared a 150-page report that covered finance and administration, programming, membership development, and government relations. He updated the association's mission, goals, and objectives and restructured the bylaws. He identified possible sources of "bridge" funding to support a full-time administrative office until ABCON's bottom line improved. He recommended ABCON expand its membership to include categories other than contractors and position itself as the voice of Botswana's construction industry. And he outlined a system for monitoring legislative and regulatory matters.
In preparing the management analysis and recommendations, Bolduc depended heavily on his 25 years of association management experience, including stints on ASAE's evaluation teams--whereby peer teams of association executives conduct site visits to associations to measure their performance and operational effectiveness. He also made extensive use of association management books and materials, gifts from ASAE to the association community of Botswana.
"I drew on everything," notes Bolduc. "And face it--you've literally done everything, from advertising and marketing to publications and board relations, when you've been a chief staff executive. Essentially, I wrote an operations manual for them and formulated a strategic plan."
That strategic plan takes into account the situations of both the association and the country. Bolduc's plan, for example, calls for ABCON to expand existing skills training programs so that Botswana's own citizens can fill the jobs created by the construction boom; currently, most of the skilled artisans and craftsworkers come from other countries.
For his services, Bolduc received no salary. IESC funding from a variety of sources--including the U.S. Agency for International Development, private industry, and clients such as ABCON--covered travel, food, and lodging costs for Bolduc and his wife.
Hungry for information
Bolduc also found himself on "the Botswana rubber chicken circuit," speaking about the association management profession to groups of lawyers, printers, and tourism officials and to the local affiliate of the American Society for Training and Development.
Each group hungered for information on association management in the United States, peppering him with questions long after his allocated speaking time had expired. In addition to explaining how American associations function and what activities they conduct, Bolduc encouraged the groups to take advantage of the association management library donated by ASAE. The Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry used the books and background kits to set up an association management reference library available for use by any association in the country.
Associations in Botswana "have no history to go on. They're still learning and developing," Bolduc says. "In the United States, association executives do whatever needs to be done. In Botswana, they still don't know what needs to be done. They are 25-35 years behind us in developing the profession--but that will change."
He believes association executives in the United States have much to contribute to developing nations like Botswana. "Activities such as restructuring or starting associations are a perfect tie-in with the |thousand points of light' that President Bush talks about," explains Bolduc. "These activities are examples of the association community in the United States sharing what it has with the rest of the world.
"For me, going to Botswana was an opportunity to give something back to the profession," he continues. "And it's part of staying healthy and active after retirement."
Ernie Bolduc hopes to return to Botswana on a follow-up assignment or to work in another country as an IESC project coordinator. In the meantime, he spends his mornings operating EJB Associates, a management consulting firm, from his home in Armonk, New York.
He also sings with a choral group; runs workshops on the job-search process; remains an active member of the New York Society of Association Executives; writes and gives cooking lectures; and prepares dinner for his wife each night.
What's more, each spring and fall you'll find Bolduc hammering on the anvil at the circa-1800 village operated by the local historical society. The society appreciates his fund-raising talents--but really needs a blacksmith.
"I have fun, and that's the way I intend to keep it," chuckles Bolduc. "I wasn't going to retire and just wait for the box to come along. I may be retired--but I'm not tired."
Retirees Relish Newfound Freedom
Bernard J. Imming, CAE, and Tom Baker, both past chairs of ASAE, prepared for retirement. Each announced the decision to his board of directors several years in advance, had a successor on board to gradually take over responsibilities, and agreed to serve as a consultant to ease the association's transition.
Nevertheless, retirement surprised both men.
Imming, once retired, found less pleasure than expected in overseeing special projects for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Virginia. He had spent 37 years with the association, retiring as its president in 1985.
"One motivating factor in my retirement decision was the experience of others I'd seen who didn't retire and tried to push things. They didn't know when to leave," says Imming. After retiring, "I served briefly [as president of the United Nutrition Education Foundation] and decided it wasn't good--when you're gone, you're gone."
Imming soon started receiving telephone calls from other association executives. "People said, |You're retired, you have lots of time. How about helping us do this or that?' All of a sudden--and unexpectedly--I became a consultant," Imming explains.
The man who had planned to devote his retirement solely to volunteer and church activities found himself back in association management. He's now president of The Association Consultancy, Alexandria, Virginia.
"It's turned out to be more of a full-time job than I anticipated," says Imming. "Still, my principal objective is sharing--being able to do the things you can to help others."
Busier than expected
For Tom Baker, retirement is definitely busier than he expected. In 1977, Baker retired as executive vice president of the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), Washington, D.C., and moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with visions of golf and tennis dancing in his head.
Instead, he found the community undergoing rapid, unplanned development--and immediately rolled up his sleeves.
"The next thing you know, I was president of the community association and dealing with agendas, minutes, committee reports, and public meetings--things that really weren't much different than what I had done at NSDA," Baker says.
In motivating and organizing his neighbors to incorporate Hilton Head as a town, Baker used everything he'd learned in association management. His career at NSDA spanned 42 years. He was also the first association executive to serve on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
"[At the community association] we were able to put into practice some well-tried association techniques. They had heard about minutes, for example, but no one really kept any. They had heard about tax-exempt organizations, but no one ever knew you had to apply for that status. That lack of awareness didn't apply just to the community association but also to many other organizations on the island," Baker notes.
A different perspective
Rogers Finch, CAE, also discovered how important and useful his association management skills and experiences are to other people. Having retired in 1987 as executive vice president of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, New York City, Finch now helps groups near his New Jersey home get things done.
"As is often the case in local voluntary organizations, they really don't have much business sense of how to handle their affairs," Finch notes. "Most are quite novice at setting up appropriate accounting systems, planning for programming and financing, and so forth. But it's easy for me to write bylaws and help reorganize operations."
When not writing the bylaws for various organizations, Finch writes about his family as its "unofficial genealogist and record keeper." He builds and refinishes furniture, makes beer and wine, helps prepare exhibits for the Monmouth County Museum, and sings with a civic chorus. Finch, a retired Army officer, also keeps busy as a ham radio operator, handling messages from military personnel stationed in the Middle East.
"I wish I could do more with all these various hobbies. They all interfere with each other," Finch notes wryly, explaining that he put aside virtually all of his outside interests during his association management career. "I kept music as my one break from the pressures of business and travel. Like any good hobby, it took me away from the rest of the things on my mind."
A sense of freedom
As part of his association duties, Finch traveled about 50 percent of the time. Now he and his wife enjoy traveling on their own schedule, at their own pace. "It's a great relief not to have to travel at somebody else's beck and call and not to have to commute to the office every day," says Finch.
Bernard Imming expresses similar sentiments. "I never felt I was stressed with pressure from the board," he says. "I never had any major problems or differences with the executive committee. And yet, the nicest thing about retirement is the unexpected pleasure. A burden is lifted--you're free."
In addition to his association consulting work, Imming serves on his church's pastoral council and is president of his local American Cancer Society. The avid photographer also has been active in his condominium association and recently completed a three-year term on its board of directors.
Like Finch, Imming had no trouble adapting to retirement. He attributes the easy transition to staying busy with many interests and activities, including serving as chair of ASAE's Past Chairmen's Roundtable. He admits, however, to missing one aspect of his association management career: a secretary.
"Fortunately, my grandfather taught me to type when I was in high school. Luckily that skill has stayed with me," Imming says.
Tom Baker also has had to polish and fine-tune his hunt-and-peck skills while developing materials for numerous community activities. For example, he helped develop Hilton Head's land development plan; has served on the board of directors for his local chamber of commerce; organizes local golf tournaments; and frequently lobbies county, state, and federal legislatures.
"Getting involved is a lot of fun. But it's also a lot of time," continues Baker. "In my case, a need was there, and to be needed is a very wonderful thing."
Although he's speaking for himself, Rogers Finch may well echo the thoughts of other retired association executives when he says, "My only regret is not retiring much earlier than I did. I'm having so much fun now."
For More Information
The International Executive Service Corps (IESC), Stamford, Connecticut, matches retired U.S. executives with service opportunities in developing countries. The volunteers donate their managerial and technical skills to help a variety of organizations modernize and streamline operations.
For information on IESC activities and its skilled bank of retired volunteers, write to IESC, P.O. Box 10005, Stamford, CT 06904-2005.
What the Future Holds
Who's pretty happy and optimistic, reasonably well off financially, in excellent health, heavy into hobbies and independence, and misses meeting with fellow association execs?
Most of the ASAE life members who responded to an ASAE survey conducted in November 1990 by the Past Chairmen's Roundtable--that's who.
Here are some of the facts: 1,990 questionnaires were mailed to ASAE life members; 58.2 percent responded. A similar survey in 1987 pulled a 52.1 percent response. Of those responding, 69.5 percent are in the age range of 66-75 years old; 9.2 percent are women compared to 7 percent in the previous survey.
What are these folks doing since becoming life members? Just more than half (52.9 percent) are consulting either full time or part time, and more than half (55.1 percent) have civic, religious, or community leadership roles.
And it seems no one is sitting still: 87.5 percent are traveling, and respondents mentioned more than 35 different hobbies--from antique collecting, aviation, and cattle ranching to restoring furniture, singing, and writing--and eight forms of exercise.
Want some free advice on preparing for retirement? Here's what the people who are there suggest:
* Begin early in life to prepare, at least 10 years in advance. * Place your raises in deferred compensation. * Get financial advice and learn about Internal Revenue Service regulations. * Gradually reduce your work schedule. * Don't take yourself too seriously; the association will go on very well after you've left. * Arrange for adequate health care insurance. * Take educational courses in retirement. * Do volunteer work. * Set goals for achievement after retirement. * Develop a good relationship with your spouse before retiring. * Develop interests you can expand upon after retirement. * Face it. Think about it. Learn about it from your colleagues.
Or as one life member puts it: Don't retire; make advance plans to work at something.
Sandra R. Sabo is a free-lance writer in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.
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|Title Annotation:||Ernest J. Bolduc's post-retirement volunteer work in Botswana; includes related articles|
|Author:||Sabo, Sandra R.|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1991|
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