From Silicon Valley to Swaziland: How One Couple Found Purpose and Adventure in an Encore Career

From Silicon Valley to Swaziland: How One Couple Found Purpose and Adventure in an Encore Career


Rick Walleigh

Rick Walleigh worked for thirty years in the high-technology industry. During this time he held executive roles in high-technology companies and was a partner in management consulting at Ernst & Young for twelve years. During his career, he frequently gave executive presentations and wrote a number of articles on business topics. Two of his articles were published in The Harvard Business Review.

After what he calls “commercially retiring” in 2005, Rick began exploring opportunities to use his skills and give back to society. He discovered the volunteer consulting program at TechnoServe and went to Africa with his wife Wendy to work on reducing poverty. Now back in the US, he continues to work part-time for TechnoServe as a senior advisor to the chief operating officer and other members of TechnoServe’s senior management team.

Because of his transition from high technology executive to volunteer in Africa, Rick was featured in a Wall Street Journal online edition article titled “Second Acts: Career Paths For Worn-Out Executives.”

Wendy R. Walleigh

Before making the transition into the non-profit sector in 2002, the majority of Wendy Walleigh’s career was in high-technology marketing and sales. Over twenty years, she held numerous positions in computer networking hardware and software companies, including director of OEM Marketing at 3Com Corporation. Her responsibilities included product marketing and management, branding, marketing communications, sales, and sales support.

In 2002, Ms. Walleigh left the high-technology world and joined Junior Achievement of Silicon Valley where she held the position of vice president of marketing and development until 2006 when she and her husband moved to Africa to do volunteer work for TechnoServe, an international economic development NGO (non-governmental organization). From July to December 2006 in Swaziland and all of 2007 in Kenya, she helped develop entrepreneurship programs for TechnoServe supporting youth, women, micro-enterprises and business plan competitions, including helping to establish Junior Achievement youth programs in Swaziland. While living again in California, Ms. Walleigh returned to Africa in 2008 and 2009 to travel informally as well as to visit TechnoServe clients in Ghana, Swaziland, and Kenya and document their success stories. She returned to Junior Achievement of Silicon Valley as a board member and continues to serve in that role.

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What do you do when you’re ready to retire from a successful career in Silicon Valley? Why not move to Africa and do volunteer work?

Okay, this isn’t the way most of us imagine spending our golden years. But Rick and Wendy Walleigh—like so many baby boomers reaching the traditional age of retirement—were too healthy, motivated, and interested in giving back to play golf for the rest of their lives. From Silicon Valley to Swaziland describes their experiences, from the challenges of day-to-day existence in an unfamiliar culture to the joys of helping people in poverty grow their own businesses. If you’re thinking about transitioning to a more meaningful career, you’ll find the Walleighs’ story both informative and inspiring.