Allen Boston and Kathryn Oberly (now the Honorable Kathryn Oberly) were both prominent leaders at EY: Boston was Americas Director of Campus and Diversity Recruiting and Oberly was Vice Chair and General Counsel. Both retired from the firm this past year — and since then, their lives have taken decidedly different tacks. We asked them what it has been like making the transition.
What have you been up to since retiring from EY?
Boston: Well, for one thing, I’m not working — at least not yet. For me this has been a chance to spend time with my family, really get physically fit, work on becoming a single-digit handicap golfer (LOL), get more involved with my church and travel.
Oberly: The first thing I did was to take a two-week expedition to Antarctica — something that had been planned for some time. The same day I returned, I started in my new position as Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. I’ve always thought that being a judge was the highest calling in the legal profession. It’s something I always wanted to do — and, well, here I am.
What’s been the biggest adjustment?
Oberly: I’d have to say the more reflective pace. It’s not less work; it’s just a little more predictable. At EY I’d be doing something different every half-hour or so. Here, I sometimes spend entire days on a single issue. I appreciate the time to focus, but some days I actually miss all the hubbub. I’m also still not quite used to being addressed as “Judge Oberly.”
Boston: EY was such an integral part of my life — the teaming, the ability to learn and grow — and you miss those things right away.
What do you miss the most?
Boston: Without question, the people. I don’t think we realize it when we are there, but EY, through our values and focus on teaming, just creates a different kind of professional. And we develop not just as professionals, but as human beings. It’s a tremendous group of individuals. To me it was more like a family, and that’s something I’ll always remember and miss.
Oberly: I think what I’ve always appreciated, but have come to appreciate even more since I’ve been gone, is what EY does for its people. That support continues to be impressive even after you leave. And of course, you miss the people. You realize just how special they are.
What do you feel most proud of accomplishing at EY?
Oberly: Again, it comes back to people. All the groundbreaking things that EY has done on the people front require legal support. I’m also very proud of what we accomplished with the sale of our IT consulting practice back in 1999–2000. It was extraordinarily complex, and a huge legal challenge, but it was the right thing to do.
Boston: Personally, it’s having been able to develop and mentor others. That’s just tremendously satisfying. Organizationally, I’d say it’s the huge strides we made in building a diverse and inclusive environment and campus recruiting. Our leadership supported these initiatives and our teams delivered.
What words of advice do you have for other EY people who may be about to retire?
Boston: Retirement can be an emotional roller coaster. On my last day, before heading for the train, I just stood in the lobby for about 10 minutes just looking at the EY sign and watching the people come and go. So you need to be prepared. Personally, I immediately went on vacation to Aruba and just chilled with my family — without my BlackBerry! I think that helped make things easier when I returned home. I highly recommend it.
Oberly: While I’ve retired from EY, I’m certainly not retired. So, it’s highly individual. Each person needs to decide what they want their next phase of life to be: if that’s spending time with family, fantastic; if it means becoming a judge, that’s fantastic, too. And of course it could mean both. But you really have to have a plan. Retirement’s great. But it’s not just going to take care of itself.
The Honorable Kathryn Oberly swears in new United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, while husband and former US President Bill Clinton holds the Bible that belonged to the former first lady’s late father.