I love that song as performed by Andrea Bocelli! And I also love most things Bocelli!! But this time the title above is a lot more personal. As of 24:00 (or 00:00) on 31st December 2019 I will cease to be an employee of CPUT after 39 years of quite an interesting ride.
Why work so long in one company? It’s an old-fashioned thing in the world of today. Was it apathy – easy money with little risk? Or did I enjoy it? The latter is the reason. In addition to that, working with young people kept me young. Or so I think.
However, an “interesting ride” almost copies the Chinese saying: “may you live in interesting times”. Or is it an English saying? The interesting time also refers to the usual ups and downs in life i.e. good and bad times. However, bad is not a good term to use in this particular case. I would rather use the word “challenging”!
And yes, there were many challenging times, but the good times far outweighed It. Keeping brevity in mind, I cannot go through all the good times in detail, but let me give you some of them in bullet point format since I am a listy sort of person:
- Meeting so many young people who are now alumni and, in some cases, friends;
- Living the true meaning of “life-long learning“;
- Being part of the merger process of two legacy institutions and finally an academic department;
- Being a part of establishing the Agrifood Technology Station and then eventually being seconded to manage it (for 12 years now);
- Assisting with design and construction of a new joint facility with the Department of Food Science & Technology on the Bellville campus, one of very few of its kind attached to an academic institution;
- Building the Station to its present status;
- Meeting so many people in the general food industry.
In the words of a close relative, when asked the question about who influenced her life the most, she answered: everybody, and in small ways, which gives you one big influence! And such is mine as well.
In terms of the challenges: yes, there were many, key ones of which were:
- Entering the world of teaching with no prior training (that’s how easy it was in those days, but things have changed now);
- Living through student protests (early 1980s) and recently #FeesMustFall;
- Managing the institutional merger process from the point of view of running two Food Technology departments, as if it were one, on two different campuses (also no prior management training for something as delicate as this);
- And a few other less noteworthy ones.
However, what I would consider serendipity, was the fact that, when I came out of the University of the Western Cape in 1980 as a B.Sc. graduate with Biochemistry and Physiology as majors, I had no clue what the field of Food Technology entailed. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right people when I bumped into this qualification. After playing a vigorous game of squash, I went for an interview in full kit, filled in some forms and, voila! After a steep learning curve I started understanding the concept and all the opportunities it had for myself and others at that time.
And here we are: a self-made food scientist/ technologist! Remember the life-long learning alluded to earlier!! And one who is now retiring!!!
The two questions most asked of me:
- Who is going to replace me and will the Station keep operating?: CPUT has its standard appointment processes in place and yes, there is no reason for the Station to either stop operating or lower its quality of work.
- What am I going to do in my retirement?: I would like to say boggerol but in fact I have a few key things I wish to do/ achieve.
My next activities in life will initially revolve around:
- Sharpen my ballroom dancing skills with my wife. And yes, I do dance, with two left feet.
- Travel southern Africa i.e. learn more about where I live.
- Write: since I will not have access to this blog, I have established a personal one for writing of a general nature and also possibly industry-related topics. I will post this on the Food Science and Technology Graduates of South Africa Facebook page at the right time.
I will retain contact with academia/ ATS where it interests me and, if required for other types of work, I would consider this on an individual request basis. From the 1st January 2020 I will be contactable on email@example.com.