Comtemplating Retirement: Shared Experience from a Retired Humanitarian Employee


With over 17 years of experience across several international organizations including DPKO, WHO and IOM, over five years with OCHA including serving as Chief of Administration, and a great love for cooking, we spoke with Ms. Carole Joseph who retired two years ago.

Ms. Joseph shared her great memories with OCHA and her mission to the DRC. She remembers having several farewells with her OCHA colleagues including a surprise farewell party at an Administration Retreat.

Currently, Ms. Joseph is involved in many activities that keep her occupied and fulfill her desire to continue working. For example, she has enrolled for Finance classes at Florida University to be able to widen her knowledge. She is also doing tutorials at Microsoft and Apple to follow the latest trends and technology. She is taking Italian language classes and regularly going to the gym for fitness training and meditation. Although she is enjoying her free time and staying productive, she misses work. To meet this need, Ms. Joseph also goes on small missions as an expert and continues to engage in interesting work. Her biggest wish would be to share all her knowledge with others and to empower the younger generation.

Ms. Joseph provided some tips on how to best prepare for retirement:

1.       Take time to identify your goals: it is very important to take some time to think about your retirement goals. It was suggested that employees should start planning at least one year ahead of their retirement.

2.       Workshops on retirement: once you have decided upon your objectives, take extra steps to figure out how you will achieve those. This can be done by going to workshops or trainings that help you prepare for retirement. Ms. Joseph highlighted the importance of considering five factors:

a.       How will you manage your finances?

b.       Have you clearly defined your goals?

c.       How will you manage your family reunion and personal life?

d.       How will you manage your time?

e.       Do your expectations match reality?

3.       Take care of your mental health: Ms. Joseph noticed that many people, particularly women can be afraid of ageing and becoming frail. Some may also experience loneliness, sadness or helplessness, which could lead to depression. However, she suggested to embrace retirement with a positive mind and invest time in practicing self-care activities that will boost your self-esteem and confidence. For example, Ms. Joseph enjoys going shopping, wearing new clothes, putting make-up and other pampering treats (her secret ingredient for skin care is coconut oil and black soap!).

4.       Eat well: it is extremely important to eat well-balanced meals and be mindful of sugar intake. Ms. Joseph shared that every day she makes her own green juice with seven ingredients that give her a lot of energy during the day.

Through this interview Ms. Joseph hopes that staff at OCHA will be better prepared for their retirement and find time to enjoy their favorite activities.