A career that nobody could have planned. Even Bill.
Estimated reading time: 2-4 minutes
As a 19-year old starting out in 1958, Bill McLaughlin had no idea that his career journey would span 58 years at one company - or that he'd end up serving as Philips' longest serving employee.
On Friday 12th May, it was time to move on; a decision, says Bill, brought about by his good health, great memories, and the desire “to get the most out of the rest of my life.”
Much has changed since Bill’s first day as an apprentice on $1.60 an hour in the Andover machine shop – least of all the job application process, which was decidedly different than it is today. Bill’s interview consisted of two questions, ‘how much experience do you have in a machine shop?’ and ‘do you have a car to get to work?’
And when Bill said yes, he had a 1950 Ford to his name, his hiring manager said “You’re hired; see you Monday.”
“Having a car landed me the start to my career journey,” he laughs.
I had very little experience in machine shops, and it was a different world back then.
Throughout his inspired career journey at Philips, Bill went through multiple positions. First a machine apprentice, then a Tool and Die maker, Model Shop supervisor, before finally ending his Philips career in Reliable Engineering.
“I never thought I would last that long. At one point I thought ‘oh boy I’m almost 65, and then 65 came and went and then 70, 75 came and went too,” he continues.
“Now I’m here at 77 and absolutely do not regret the fact that I could have retired ten years ago and chose not to. It’s the atmosphere of meaningful work that kept me going. From the first day on the job and every day thereafter I had many opportunities to learn and advance my career.”
The model shop environment is an important part of what meaningful work means for Bill. A self-confessed ‘fix-it man,’ Bill found it rewarding to solve whatever problem came through his door, and the ability to say, “your problem has been fixed.” Helping others is what gave Bill a sense of purpose over the years, and you could say that with Philips, he found a perfect match. “Being a part of the Philips health care industry and touching people’s lives has been a part of who I am,” he adds.
As he steps away from the career of a lifetime, he says with palpable emotion, “Wow, what a great ride it has been.” At his surprise retirement party last week, more than 350 people attended from across the organization to say their goodbyes and share their stories, memories and congratulations. “I still get choked up thinking about it,” he says.
“It’s the toughest thing to walk away from but I know I will be back,” assuring that he will still make the trip to say hello and visit his Philips’ family.
His parting advice? “Build quality into anything you design because that is Philips’ DNA.” “And keep an eye out, your career journey at Philips will go by fast and before you know it, you will be up to me.”
Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.
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