“I always planned to stop at 60. Then I saw colleagues who flagged a lot after retirement, and I wanted to avoid that. Four years ago I agreed with my supervisors that I would reduce my hours to 80 percent and thus get used to the idea of leaving gradually.
When I think back to the year 1968 when I started my apprenticeship at what was then Helvetia Feuer in Solothurn, I can’t help but chuckle. I applied to a law firm and to Helvetia. The reason I chose Helvetia was that the secretary of what was then the General Agent had lots of colourful telephone books – in contrast, everything looked very dreary at the law firm. I was so naïve. The apprentices today are well-informed and know what they want.
It was nice that Helvetia always supported me throughout my career. I really liked our team spirit at the General Agency. That was also the reason why I came back to Helvetia after a stint at a construction company following my apprenticeship. Originally I wanted to be a paediatric nurse, but I enjoyed the customer contact in my job at Helvetia so much that I quickly gave up on that idea.
I was the first woman in Switzerland to complete the insurance diploma with the additional qualification in technical insurance. Although I always worked at the General Agency, I started new roles around every seven years. The position I held for longest was Head of Sales Support. My experience shows that customers always like to have a person to contact. Once they know your name, then they’ll call you time and again.
I’m a big fan of Greece. My colleagues tease me about it a lot. I have had many remarkable experiences in connection with this country and I’m amazed at how people are dealing with the crisis. I also speak a few words of the language – perhaps I’ll take another Greek course once I retire.
Thinking about the time after July 2016, I look forward to more freedom. It was important to me to retire in summer so that I can go outside and enjoy the balcony. I will be able to read, crochet, knit, cook or bake to my heart’s content, and listen to a bit of Glenn Miller at the same time. I’ll miss my colleagues at Helvetia, and I’ll miss the daily rhythm. If I could go back, I’d probably follow the same path.”