A recent article on news site Stuff included stories from recognisable CEOs who had left an executive career and ‘reinvented’ themselves. It raised some interesting questions around how you leave what will likely be the pinnacle of your career, and then what you do next…

Aside from deciding when the time is right to make a move, arguably the most challenging aspect to this story, what do you do next? You’ve been working a 70+ hour week for many years, leading large teams, making hugely critical strategic decisions, travelling, managing financials – and then what? What’s the plan for retirement, if there is even going to be one?

As the article in stuff.co.nz alluded to, these were not CEOs who you would typically pick for retirement. Former Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe talked about your life being in three phases with the mid phase (30s to 50s) all about growth in your career and then the final stage (50s to 70s) being devoted to giving back.

As a starter here are some of the more common options for retiring CEOs to consider.

Consider governance

Take all of that accumulated executive leadership experience and serve as a director on a board – corporate or not for profit. Depending on your previous CEO role, this may not have been an option for you. There is a lot of demand for experienced CEOs to join Boards. Depending on what your retirement plan is, keep in mind that there is a commitment required which can fluctuate depending on the needs of the organisation.

Share knowledge

Teaching and/or mentoring others can be a rewarding and challenging opportunity. If you are particularly passionate about a topic for example emerging leaders, then this is a great way to do something that will make a difference and help you achieve some life goals.

Take on another CEO role

This may seem counterinitiative but taking on a leadership role at a start-up or a not for profit organisation gives you the opportunity to use your collective knowledge however in an environment that may be new to you and where your success can bring a lot of satisfaction.

More on giving back

If this is the sort of thing that excites you then there is plenty more to consider for example create a foundation, pursue a cause close to your heart or serve in local government.

Making these decisions can be challenging and just like your exit strategy it pays to plan in advance. Consider engaging a career coach pre-retirement, to help you work through the options or seek the counselling of a mentor or colleague whose advice you can rely on.

When you do make the break, give yourself the time and space to decompress before making any decisions or agreeing to any commitments. Rob Fyfe suggested a good six to 12 months to evaluate what’s really important to you before taking on any opportunities. Don’t feel the need to full your time with the first opportunity that comes along. Remember that even ‘small commitments’ can expand into something that occupies too much of your time.

There is plenty to do for experienced senior leaders!

Need help?

Decipher Group are specialists in executive and governance recruitment. If you are looking for direction and assistance on creating your personal brand to tap into exciting opportunities, get in touch with us.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and technologies follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

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