Mike’s Retire Right Journey: From CEO to Puffing Billy’s Station Master

We caught up with long-time Retire Right client Mike McCarthy, took the time to catch up on his post-retirement life, and discovered a fascinating story of transition and passion.

Having worked in a high-pressure CEO role, Mike faced the challenge of transitioning from a hectic career to retirement. However, his enthusiasm for life was palpable when we caught up with him.

Mike’s secret to a successful retirement? Structure and purpose. He emphasised the importance of maintaining a sense of order in your life and finding meaningful activities to fill your week.

A highlight of Mike’s retired life is his role as a volunteer station master on Puffing Billy, a position he’s enjoyed for some time. Recently promoted to Head Conductor, a title usually earned after a number of years of service, Mike shared his love for the role:

“I love it – the challenge and what you learn about yourself is amazing.”

Despite having been a managing director with massive responsibilities, Mike approaches his role as a volunteer conductor with the same passion and professionalism.

“I try to be as professional as ever and present myself with as much passion as any other job I have ever had, and I love learning that about myself.”

Mike highlighted the professionalism of the Puffing Billy team, noting that it takes 15 weeks to become a conductor. While the “payment” might be in free coffee and cheap dim sims, the experience is rich and fulfilling.

Reflecting on a challenging day, Mike shared, “The other day, we had a full train of passengers trying to board, and we were a few volunteers down. After coordinating the whole situation and finding everyone a seat, I stepped onto the train myself to a spontaneous round of applause. It is fair to say that I floated home that night.”

Advice for Transitioning from Full-Time Work to Retirement

For individuals contemplating the transition from full-time work to retirement, Mike reflects on the multitude of conversations he has had, particularly with men in their mid to late 50s on Puffing Billy, discussing the journey towards retirement. Puffing Billy emerged as a tangible possibility for him well before retirement. A self-proclaimed train enthusiast, this decision had been germinating in his mind long before the actual retirement decision was made.

For those considering the transition from full-time work to retirement, Mike emphasised the need for planning for those considering the transition from full-time work to retirement.

“You need to think about what that life (retirement) will be and try to find ways of stimulating yourself physically and mentally.”

His advice is born out of personal experience.

 “I left my role as the stress levels were affecting my health. My blood pressure was through the roof. But I loved my job, and it was a big decision at the time, but looking back at it now, the timing was ultimately perfect.”

In addition to these fulfilling experiences, Mike and his wife Shirley have enjoyed a comfortable retirement, with their superannuation wealth increasing even as they draw from it.

A message from us:

There’s nothing more gratifying than witnessing someone achieve their dreams! We are grateful to Mike for sharing his inspiring journey with Puffing Billy. We continue supporting Mike and Shirley on their Retire Right path, making their retirement years a personalised experience. With regular check-ins and communication, we have been able to ensure that Mike and Shirley are living the retirement they dreamed of.

If you’re contemplating the next step into retirement, let us assist you on your Retire Right journey. Reach out to our experienced team here.