Most successful people in life have yearnings of pursuing their passions that are completely unconnected to their successful careers. Silently they nurture the hope and wish, that one day they can retire and indulge in what they wish to do in time which becomes their own. However the mad rush for being one up in life, pressures of modern day business and family needs takes one to a point of time where either the health gives in or one is too old with no energy to indulge. Rarely do you find a person achieve the fulfilment of pursuing his or her heart’s desires. “Life is too short”, time just moves on and before we know, it is too late in life do what one wished to do.  I am reminded of a dear friend Mohan Kini, who was like a father to me. He had an illustrious career as a professional working for large business houses.

Being extremely fond of vocal Indian classical music, he would turn on his music system each evening and listen to maestros of their times. He, at times would hum along and somewhere deep within him, he carried a strong desire to learn the raga’s (Indian Classical music) and sing. Then came the day when he retired. Within weeks of his retirement he started to take lessons and enjoy doing what he had wanted to do for long years, “sing by self and not hum long”. I was amazed to see how quickly he picked up and was singing extremely well. I was sure he will soon start giving performances. However God has his ways, tragedy struck and my friend suffered a massive heart attack and could not even reach the hospital.  

Personally I have always wanted to pursue my passion for cooking and writing, I have been fortunate that now my sons are taking up the bulk of the business responsibilities I have more time on my hand and so can write. This blog is a result of pursuing my heart’s desire to write and express myself and then spending time in Kitchen gives me the satisfaction of creating new dishes. In my younger days I used to spend hours in laboratory creating diverse products like inks, adhesive, cosmetics, label and coated products. I find a striking similarity between a laboratory and a kitchen with the kitchen slab and the spices lined up like chemicals in the laboratory making your imagination run wildly towards creativity. Adding a little spice to this article, I reproduce pictures of a dish made by me recently.

 There are nights when I get up in the middle of the night and start thinking what I have to write or what new dish to create. This is the reason that my family says, I can make a different egg dish 365 days a year. The following day starting with the morning is always the nearest time to try out a new dish imagined in the preceding night. In my time spent in the label industry I have come across some amazing personalities who even in retirement continue to excel and deliver value to the society and also draw pleasure. They are inspirational and watching them makes you to realise that life does not end at retirement but starts all over in a more pleasurable direction if you pursue your passions.

Helmut Schreiner retired as Chairman of Germany’s leading label company Schreiner Group a few years ago handing over the reigns of the group to his son Ronald Schreiner. I wrote about him on this blog: In the closing paragraph I wrote, “Having more time on his hands, Helmut founded a new company “Schreiner Innovation GmbH & Co. KG”. Here he is interested in developing partnerships with other companies as well as dealing real estate. He is also now devoting a substantial part of his time to social activities and charities. He lives his philosophy, to be honest, true to himself and to his people and this has evolved from personal experiences in his life. His philosophy for his company and his people has been clear and value oriented. The values were innovation, quality, performance and joy! This clear positioning was always the bases for his personal happiness and business success.”  A year later I was surprised to note that Helmut had started to pursue yet another passion of his life and that is poetry. I found it an extremely pleasurable expression of time being spent in retirement. So I decided to share this with the print fraternity, it is available at ; . This January he sent to me a beautiful new year’s greeting card along with an amazing book titled, “Reflections, Recognition Rhyme” a compilation of his poetry that is deliverance of his passionate expression! He continues with his social works towards community service and draw pleasure in finding a wonder outlet for his emotions through poetry.

Sandeep Lal: I wrote about him on this blog many times since 2009, he and his family migrated from Allahabad in India to Toronto, Canada in 1972. He set up a very successful Metro label and eventually sold it to Tapp Labels to pursue life in other avenues. For his parents this would be their second migration, the first one being from western Punjab (now in Pakistan) to India post partition of India in 1947. They had moved with their family to Canada to provide a better life for future generations. Sandeep’s children as they grew up chose to pursue interests outside the business.

Sandeep realized that he no longer had the passion for business that he had worked in for most of his life and it was best to find an ownership that had the required energy and a new focus. In July 2015 Sandeep sold Metro Label’s assets to Tapp Label. Tapp was approximately half the size of Metro Label, but had deep pockets and were a financially sound private investor. 

Funny how things work! Sandeep’s parents took the family to Canada for a better life, the one they found in spades. When success was in there in full measure, in 2003 Sandeep’s youngest sibling Raideep left Metro Label to seek his own dream and relocated to Boquete, Panama.  Boquete is 1000 metres above sea level in the mountains near Costa Rica and about 75km from the Pacific Ocean. Raideep acquired a large parcel of land to build a golf course with a residential development around it. Sandeep and Metro Label subsequently invested in this development. Raideep’s early demise at the young age of 44 in 2010 left the leadership of the golf course in Sandeep’s hands.

So what does one do after retiring from 43 years of hard work in a very successful label business? Enjoy life a little more, have more time for family, grand children and maybe even travel. Sometimes all of those! However Sandeep accepted the challenge of managing and growing Lucero Homes and Lucero Golf and Country Club ( ) in the country of Panama. He commutes between Toronto where he lives and Boquete, Panama.  His work included completing the last 9 holes of the Golf Course, revising the development Master plan to add more density and planting almost 400,000 coffee plants on their land to become the third largest Coffee grower in Panama. Lucero Golf and Country Club was recently ranked the Best Golf Course in Panama. He is contemplating building a luxury hotel and Spa which will be supported by fruits and vegetable from their land. He talks about how different life is. He is running a development which includes “Seasons” a 110 cover restaurant, hotel rooms, home and condominium apartment construction, coffee plants and fruits trees a large nursery to grow vegetable and flowering plants for the development,  along with the golf course and tennis courts. Sandeep said that he was surprised to discover that many skills which he acquired in running Metro Label are coming in handy. He said that the business is still about managing people, implementing financial controls and reporting protocols, creating and implementing policies and procedure. Having clear goals and expectations and communicating them to the team and ensuring they are motivated to perform. He is using all these skills which he acquired in his career at Metro Label to run Lucero and hoping very soon to have a lot more leisure time with family and friends.

Kurt Walker, past president of FINAT, after graduating from university, entered the printing industry where he held various positions in sales and marketing. In 1988 he joined the label industry. He continued to be in the industry until his retirement in 2012, as chief executive officer (CEO) of Tesa Bandfix in Switzerland. He became a member of the FINAT board in 1999 and also served as vice-president of membership committee and treasurer. FINAT is the worldwide association for the self-adhesive labeling industry. Kurt became the President of FINAT in 2011.  During his tenure he supported and edeavoured to bring the global label fraternity together by supporting L7 now known as L9, an alliance of label associations in different countries. He was also instrumental in furthering the success of Young Managers Club in FINAT. Now retired, Kurt expresses himself as below;

“After 25 years as the CEO of tesa-Bandfix in Switzerland I retired in 2012. My expectations of retirement were quite different from the reality. I and my wife have become extensive travellers and spend somewhat like 50% of our time away from home. During the cold winter period we usually stay in the south of Africa, which has virtually become our second home. I am still involved in FINAT as president emeritus in the executive board and the organizing committee for the annual European Label Forum. This keeps me in the label family, from which I benefited so much in my life. In my free time I play tennis and golf with friends and visit art exhibitions and music events. Keeping in touch with all the friends in the whole world will be one of my challenges for the future and I hope to maintain all these wonderful contacts.”

Honey Vazirani: A wonderful person, I met Honey the first time in 1989 while she was working at Paper Products Limited (Now Huhtamaki-PPL), Thane (Mumbai). That was the beginning of this girl’s journey into the world of labels. From being a management trainee in 1989, she rose to be the head of the labelling division of the company that specialises in flexible packaging. Vazirani‘s has been a decorative, colourful journey. Since then, she had been at the forefront of PPL’s foray into the production of labels which began in 1991. Her job involved client servicing, marketing, product development and leading the labels team at PPL.

She handled customers who are the who’s who of the FMCG sector. This included key customers like Unilever and Dabur and bringing to them the most premium and modern labelling technologies. In the words of Torsten Jung Lenz, who in those days worked for Jacstadt Germany, “Honey Vazirani is married to labels!” Having spent over 20 years in the industry, she took a sabbatical in 2009. She spent a whole year rejuvenating herself by travelling, reading, spending time with friends and relatives and enjoying good food. Yes, she is a self confessed foodie! This is something she and I have in common, love for labels and indulgence in food. In 2010 she returned to Huhtamaki-PPL to head the company’s HR department. A couple of years later she again quit the job to pursue her passions. She says, “I had an exciting 20yrs with PPL, nurturing the Labelling business and being nurtured for leadership roles within the group. When I finally decided to venture out of PPL, it was to find something even more meaningful and fulfilling in a more basic sense. I hope to get back to something that I would feel wonderful doing; it could well be something totally different like running a small dhaba (Roadside food shack) in the Himalayas or it could be back to Labelling again!

Suzanne Zaccone based in Illinois USA, is a cancer survivor two times over! In 1985 she and her brother Bob Zaccone, founded GSI Technologies to produce prime labels, anti-counterfeit labels and polycarbonate overlays. GSI is now recognized as a world leader in emerging technology, producing advanced functional printed products including strips to measure glucose for diabetics, electroluminescent lamps, smart card displays, sensors and automotive circuits. She served as TLMI’s first female chairman/president from 1998 to 2000.  In an eventful life and career she has set example for other women in the label industry. She helps young people in the medical field and other business areas. Suzanne has been president of the board of directors to the DiTrolio Flexographic Institute since 2000. After beating breast cancer in 2009 she published her book in the year 2010, “A Random Interruption: Surviving Breast Cancer with Laughter, Vodka, Smoothies and an Attitude” She is the first female recipient of R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award which was conferred to her in 2014 as a part of Label industry GlobalAwards

In her response to me on her retirement she says, “Retirement, for me has been quite busy. Some time is spent volunteering at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, sitting on three boards, reading as much as possible, relaxing at our lake house which is next door to Bob’s lake house and catching up with friends and family. I also was visited by breast cancer, twice, a combined total of five years, and the first bout resulted in a book; A Random Interruption Surviving Breast Cancer with Laughter, Vodka, Smoothies and an Attitude. One hundred percent of all sales benefit The University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation where we sponsor a fellow for one year of schooling in that facility. After the book was published I found myself speaking to women and their families as they navigate through the process back to health. It has been extremely rewarding and in some cases terribly sad. Last year our family foundation opened up a cancer centre in the name of my surgeon and a holistic centre in the name of our family. The universe presents all of us with complete surprises and awesome possibilities and the wheel is always turning even if we wish it to remain still. Each day for me is different – much like when we ran our business. So I get out of bed and work very hard to engage with that day’s plot line. I make an effort to eat healthy, balance my emotions through meditation or maybe for me it is better called daydreaming, I quit smoking cigarettes, continue to attend endless meetings at hospital boards, a nap sometimes finds its way into a day here and there and 5:00 cocktails! I make sure to add a few goals that add meaning to my life and activities that provide pleasure. In this way, I affirm life and pray that my body gets the message. I want to surprise myself by not only surviving, but discovering new ways to enjoy the fact that I did survive. I’ve yet to find the joy of exercise but I am working on that. I continue to bite off more than I can chew, and I still chew it! And finally, I miss all of you in label land.”  An interesting line in her signature in her emails reads “I spent the first 50 years of my life seeking success and I will now spend the next 50 years seeking significance. – Suzanne Zaccone”
Three of the persons covered by me in this article are recipients of the R Stanton Life Time Achievement Award. It is interesting that instead of becoming recluse in retirement all of those covered by me are vibrant and active. They continue to give back to the society while still making life more significant for them self. They draw satisfaction in their work in retirement and set example for others to enjoy life in pursuing their passions!
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India January 2017Publications and magazines are free to reproduce this article by giving credit to author.

An edited version of this article was published on line by Printweek India 
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