Cricket crazy India can’t help but celebrate Sachin Tendulkar’s golden birthday with fervour today. After all, it’s difficult to forget the child prodigy who, for two decades, gave us some of the best moments of cricket! In his book From Strength-to-Strength, author Arthur C Brooks writes that success early in life doesn’t insure you from late failures. But Sachin’s cricketing career was an exception to that.

But where do you find yourself at 50 in your career? When I turned 50 a few months ago, I was at the crossroads of anxiety, fulfilment and raring to go! I have been attending many golden birthdays this year amongst my peers, and the top two questions are – have we passed our prime or is the peak yet to come.

Turning 50! At the crossroads or found your route?  Turning 50! At the crossroads or found your route?  
As Sachin Tendulkar turns 50, an introspection on how the golden year is treated at corporate workplaces

According to LinkedIn, the top seven Indian IT services companies have close to 7,500 people in the 50+ age group club – that’s less than one per cent of their workforce. In an industry seeking young tech professionals, how do these golden-aged professionals fit into the current pyramid and future? This makes for an interesting study.

Last Hurrah?

“I am 52, and I think I have one last gig left in me. Can you find an interesting role for me” asked a CXO from a large IT MNC. Post 50, it’s natural to think of one’s career as fading and to find something that ends with glory. “You will have to retire from here,” I said to my CFO, who was 55 and was aspiring for a career progression to a CEO. Feeling rejected, he quit the employment world, wrote a series of insightful finance books, and at 69 now, is a valuable advisor to many startups. When I look back, I feel hasty about my judgement of him. But he thinks that was a crucial turning point for him to rediscover his strengths and worth.

The Age Challenge

As we get close to our corporate retirement age, our displayed behaviours pose a challenge too. A CHRO in a public panel recently said sleeping at home daily is a preference as hotels don’t give him the same quality of rest. Many senior executives are reluctant to travel for various reasons. Organisations suspect it must be due to their age and hence nudge out workers who display such rigidity. Many of us also like to be the centre of attraction if we are in a position of power and fail to identify the declining curve in things we did so well when we were young. The biggest gift post-50 is being in the middle rather than in the front, as the wisdom gained through the experience allows one to be a mentor helping others succeed. Should we say the best way to stay relevant post-50 is not just to be in a powerful role but rather be an enabler? It’s a difficult pill to swallow!

Tech Industry Blues

Often, our identity attached to our employers, the role, or the money becomes a deterrent in exploring riskier new assignments post-fifty. In the tech industry, the irrelevance post-50 is more prominent as enterprises are pushing to hire younger tech savvy leaders. “We don’t want landlords; we want technocrats” was one of the briefs we got while searching for a CEO recently. “Can you code”? This is one of the most hated interview questions when hiring senior professionals in the IT industry currently. But there are shining examples of people like Arundhati Bhattacharya, the CEO of Salesforce India and former chairman of State Bank of India, at 67, who is going from strength to strength.

Sunset or Sunrise?

Recently a prominent IT MNC offered an early retirement package to its senior executives above 55. The company intended this as a gesture of gratitude so that they could enjoy their life outside of work. Guess what? Only 35 per cent of the eligible employees took the offer. Amongst the 65 per cent who didn’t take, some didn’t know what else to do with early retired life, and some felt nudged out and stayed back to avoid the embarrassment of what sounded like a forced VRS. One of my friends is already terrified about her spouse being at home after early retirement. “Can you get him something to engage with soon? Otherwise, we both will go crazy seeing each other daily,” she says. After quitting my last job, I was catching up with sleep, movies, books, and meeting friends. Having anxiously watched me doing nothing for four months, my wife pushed me out of the house one fine day, saying, “You better get started with the next entrepreneurship you promised.” It’s not surprising that our families also struggle to support some of these transitions because a busy work-life has been acknowledged as an engaged and accepted lifestyle.


The best part of turning 50 should be the higher level of self-awareness with all the experiences of what works and what doesn’t at a personal and professional level. This should let us decide to slow down or take on new gigs. When we are slowing down or moving on for our second curve, we may also enable someone more energetic to blossom. However, some of us are possibly still telling ourselves that we shall sign off on a high and hang around! It’s a tough act to emulate Sachin in our corporate career. But let’s remember that even Sachin couldn’t finish on a high on the cricket ground. To his credit, by the time he hung his boots, he had entertained and inspired millions of Indians to embrace the sport to the extent that we are celebrating his birthday even after a decade after his retirement.

Happy Golden Birthday, Sachin! Thank you for those wonderful cricketing moments.