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Launching My Legacy – Part 1

Launching My Legacy – Part 1

Many baby boomers are hoping to do something completely different in their retirement. Rick Weijo did not just hope – he did! After retiring from a successful career in the corporate world, Rick rediscovered his family’s legacy and found himself becoming a self-published author in the process. This is Rick’s story.

By Richard Weijo

I have always been a number’s guy.  My wife is always amazed that I can relax by playing with numbers either on a calculator or an Excel spreadsheet.  It’s probably not a surprise that my undergraduate degree from Concordia College, Moorhead MN was in Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting, and a minor in math.  I had considered going into engineering, but my future career choice was pretty much decided when I almost kept falling asleep in physics classes. 

If I had a choice, I’m not sure I would have picked such practical college classes.  I loved my college because of its liberal education.  What always impressed me were the courses in philosophy and religion.  I also enjoyed the English literature courses as well.  But then, what career opportunities were there for philosophy majors with a minor in English lit?

I actually started my career as an accountant.  While I was successful in what I did, after working in the field for about a year, I realized I could not continue to do this as a career for 30 years.  The work was way too routine, too repetitive.  This was my impetus to move-on to get my next degree – an MBA.  I again picked a heavily analytical focus, quantitative analysis (or statistics).

When I finished my degree, I went to work with one of the major national consulting firms.  I found consulting to be an interesting career – nothing stayed the same for long.  One month I might be working on creating a budget for a smaller client.  The next several months could be involved in supporting the specification, selection, and installation of a computer system.

There was one aspect of consulting that wasn’t much fun – constantly travelling.  For much of my time as a consultant, I hopped on a plane Monday morning, flying back home on Friday afternoon or evening.  I suspect this was because I was single and had no tenure in the firm.  There seemed to be a burn and churn mentality related to junior staff.  Juniors put in their time to get experience and a nice resume – and then move on – which is exactly what I did.

To a Ph.D. program in marketing.  I could never get over the amazing power of marketing research from one of my MBA courses.  I suspect I have always been torn between two competing interests.  On the one-side were the social sciences and I believed marketing was the closest application of these capabilities in a business context.  On the other side was the heavy analytics – the advanced quantitative tools and skills.  A Ph.D. program in business that blended these two skills was my next challenge.

Four years and a dissertation later, I was off to becoming an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN, which would keep me busy for the next four years.  But the call of the wild, the call to work in industry, was my next challenge. 

I liked applied research – conducting research that allowed me to help solve real world problems.  This is what got me to the US Department of Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).  My dissertation had been oriented to the energy crisis – looking at approaches to get consumers to take energy conservation actions to reduce energy usage.  PNNL provided me the venue to do energy research and publish.  I met my wife Sharon at the laboratory where she also worked.

While I did again change jobs and move to Portland OR, my career was pretty much set for the next twenty-three years.  I stayed in the energy industry, working in various marketing capacities for Portland General Electric, an electric utility.  First in product development, moving to managing the market research function for about ten years, ending my career there as a director of customer channels before retiring in my early 60’s.

I enjoyed working at PGE.  I (mostly) enjoyed the challenges and the people.  But after spending over a quarter century in the energy industry, it was time to make some changes.  I am not the type of person who would retire, period.

So what was my next challenge?  

Click here to read what Rick did next in Launching My Legacy Part 2

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Richard O. Weijo, PhD, received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and went on to receive his MBA and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota. He was an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Richard was also a Senior Analyst at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and his most recent corporate position was as a Manager of market research and Director of customer channels at Portland General Electric. Currently, he is a consultant and a writer. He adores his young granddaughter Elsie, whose birth inspired his book, Our Dreams For Our Children: Creating Legacies That Inspire Each New Generation To Achieve A Brighter Future.