Though Lelis D’Souza had known retirement was getting closer, he hadn’t been planning on hanging up his ASIC quite so soon when the pandemic began.

But when he was offered a voluntary redundancy in mid-2020, Lelis began the process of saying goodbye to a Qantas career that had started almost 30 years earlier. He had joined Qantas in 1993 after arriving in Perth from India, working in customer service at the airport.

“I loved my job, and I loved meeting new people every day,” he said. “I look back on it with a smile because it was a job I loved. I wouldn’t call it work because I felt like I went there to have fun, and I enjoyed myself,” he said.

It was this love for the job that had kept Lelis going before the pandemic hit. Though what’s typically seen as retirement age was approaching, Lelis had originally planned to scale back and work just a couple of days a week rather than stop working completely.

As was the case for many others across Australia, however, the pandemic had other plans for him. So, when the opportunity to take a voluntary redundancy arose, Lelis assessed his situation with the help of his daughter Simone, a Superannuation Associate at Qantas Super, and decided to take the offer.

“It was a very hard decision to make because I wasn’t ready to leave and retire, but at the end of the day, I thought it was probably the right time,” he said.

The decision made sense financially; a member of Division 2 since his first day on the job at Qantas, Lelis had also made regular voluntary contributions to his super through his career, leaving him in a solid position come retirement.

Though he then opened an income account, which sees him receive regular payments from his super, just like a salary, Lelis hasn’t just spent the last 18 months on the couch enjoying a well-earned rest. In fact, he’s been almost as busy as he was at work, spending a few days a week volunteering at two Perth hospitals as a greeter.

Lelis and his wife Cheryl.

“It’s not necessarily working that I missed, but interacting with people. I prefer to go out and meet people rather than staying home!” he said.

It’s the change in routine and the people you’re around each day that Lelis wants others planning for retirement to think about. While the financial aspects of retirement are crucial, he said it’s also important to consider the personal connections and relationships developed in the workplace that you will no longer have access to on a day to day basis once retired.

“It’s really important to think about how you’re going to build your personal connections after you leave your friends at work,” he said.

While his volunteer work is keeping him busy for now, Lelis has his eye on seeing family and travelling once WA’s borders open; in addition to Simone in Sydney, Lelis has another daughter in London who he has not seen since the pandemic began.

But no matter what comes next, Qantas Super will be by his side – like we have been since 1993.

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