"Know What You Want to Do and Plan for It"

April 10, 2014

Fred Bagg, APR, Fellow PRSA
Fred Bagg, APR, Fellow PRSA

After 35 years working as a planning strategist, researcher and communicator for Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis, Fred Bagg, APR, Fellow PRSA, retired from the hospital system in Central Indiana on April 4. However, Bagg plans to continue his role as an educator. For the past 30 years, he’s taught marketing and communications graduate courses at the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Given this issue’s careers theme, I spoke with Bagg, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, about his decision to retire and thoughts on earning his MBA.

How did you know it was time to leave?

Planning is part of what we do in public relations. A combination of a major milestone in my career at St. Francis, coupled with turning 65 and wanting to do something different came together.

I wanted to teach and I have to do that before I get too old. But I need to be financially secure. I have my Social Security and pension, and then I can teach as an adjunct for the next five or 10 years.

It doesn’t sound like you will be fully retired and out on the golf course.

I am going to teach. I’m not planning on doing consulting as a solo firm. I mean, if [someone] says, “Hey, we need your expertise in doing X, Y or Z,” then I might, but I’m not setting up a consultancy.

My predominant goal is to spend time teaching and do it right. I’ve been an adjunct for almost 30 years and sometimes after a long week or day, I’ve done it adequately but not as well as I would have liked to. So this gives me an opportunity to invest in teaching and give back to the profession.

What advice do you have for someone who’s considering an MBA degree?

It’s a personal decision. I did go back to college after the military, under the G.I. Bill, and worked toward my masters in public relations. While that was valuable, as I progressed in my career at the hospital, I was getting budgeting and staffing responsibilities, and a stronger business or financial background was helpful.

What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about either starting a new chapter in life or just retiring altogether?

Know what you want to do and plan for it — do your research. The folks who say, “Well, I’m 65 now. It’s time to retire,” don’t know whether to spend time on the golf course or travel, and it gets old fast.

Those of us who are in that baby boomer generation may still have a significant amount to give. I’ve got, I’m hoping, a good 10 years more of work in me. I just don’t want to work as hard as I’ve been working. I don’t want to work full-time. 


John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.



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