Today, I was invited to Andrew Herbert’s career celebration (sic) at Microsoft Research Cambridge. What I liked about the title of Andrew’s bash was that it was a celebration of his achievements – and not seen as an early retirement do. Andrew had also asked everyone who was scheduled to present to look to the future. There was to be no roast or sentiment; instead we were given a nicely balanced combination of occasional reminiscing with much looking forwards.
A time to reflect on how fast the world of technology and the field of computer science have both moved and to use this as a spring board to envision and consider new challenges – befitting of a person who has achieved so much and been so influential.
It is common for people who retire to travel extensively and then settle down to new leisurely pursuits, such as playing golf, spending more time with the grandchildren and gardening. But not Andrew. By the sounds of it, he will be just as active – if not more – pursuing boyhood passions and mind-boggling hobbies. Amongst many projects up his sleeve, he mentioned just two; one, to restore a replica of the enormous mainframe computer – the 1947 Cambridge Edsac – and two, to restore a Supermarine Seagull V plane. Both sound hugely ambitious undertakings – he’ll project manage both – that will take groups of people several years to complete, requiring painstaking attention to detail, involving a multitude of skills and much collaboration.
So, Andrew has not retired at all – far from it. He is transitioning to work in a different space, far beyond the corporation, that will involve him applying a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and creativity built up over his lifetime. No doubt it will give him tremendous pleasure. However, I am sure it will also reach many other people, giving new understandings and instilling much wonderment. It makes me wonder, too, how many other people there are out there who will be retiring, but still have so much to give. We talk about the need for role models in our work places but maybe we also need new ones to inspire those who are transitioning. Andrew is perfect for that.