From the Airlines to Fine Wines: Blending Passion and Experience Post-Retirement

For today’s active retirees a second career is more about fulfillment than fast tracking. No matter which side of the hiring line you are on, read on and see why the offer of flexibility and new experiences is driving up the number of mature workers drawn to tourism and hospitality.

Ellie Marynuik

For someone who has had it all in terms of career success, you’d think retirement couldn’t come soon enough for Ellie Marynuik. Following a 30 year airline career that culminated in 2007, this multi-talented baby boomer now dreams big about her next career in the hospitality industry.

Ellie first stepped into the workforce in 1976 straight out of secretarial school. She quickly found a home in the airline industry with Pacific Western Airlines where her infectious personality and people skills kept her for 30 plus years. That first job was a springboard to several key positions and, like many boomers, Ellie’s career progression is a result of old-fashioned, hands-on hard work.

Through the mergers and changes that dominated the airline industry during the 1980’s, Ellie’s career continued to flourish. She first promoted up to manager of passenger services with the newly formed Canadian Airlines at Vancouver International Airport. She soon moved to ramp supervisor, eventually becoming manager of ramp operations during the opening of the new YVR terminal. From there she promoted to manager of labour relations, western region, with the fully integrated Air Canada – a position she held until her retirement in 2007.

The job was not without its challenges and, outside of work Ellie began nurturing a brewing passion for food and wine to escape the stress. During her time off she took full advantage of the airline’s travel benefits to develop this side interest. Enrolment in cooking schools in Paris and New Orleans further fuelled her gastronomic passions, leading to a particular affection for wine.

Out of pure personal interest she enrolled in the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma program, offered locally through The Art Institute of Vancouver’s International Culinary School. In 2007 Ellie achieved the universally recognized WSET Certification and is now a fully certified sommelier. This designation has become more than a personal accomplishment; it is now her stepping stone into a second career. Only this time around, she will be pursuing her absolute passion.

Mature workers like Ellie (or boomers in today’s terms) are an appealing labour group for employers. In Ellie’s view, mature workers bring a perfect mix of skills, experience and passion to the table. This, combined with a work ethic unsurpassed by younger counterparts makes zoomers an ideal recruitment pool. If you belong to this demographic group, never under estimate your value to employers.

For Ellie, a retirement career is more about fulfilling a passion than financial survival or hierarchal rewards. In her words, “Today’s dynamic retirees know how to work hard and seek opportunities to stay active and involved. Flexibility, enjoyment, and new experiences are important”. Employers are smart to embrace zoomers and take the time to teach them the required job skills, offer them flexibility, and draw from their experiences. With employees like Ellie, the results will come perfectly packaged as loyalty, dedication, commitment, and hard work.

Ellie’s advice for pursuing a post-retirement career is to let your passions lead you to the next phase. Begin early and plan ahead by setting goals and a target date for making the transition.

She herself continues working in labour relations, her field of expertise, with the BC Maritime Employees Association until she is fully ready to launch her sommelier career.