Professionals are saying “enough is enough.” After a quarter century, or even up to four decades, spent laboring in a single field, one’s mind and soul demand a change.

Today businesses watch as more and more seasoned, highly accomplished specialists in their late 40s to mid 60s are leaving the corporate setting and casting about for new challenges. Most have neither the inclination nor the portfolio to just putter, plant tomatoes, and cruise to nowhere.

For such experienced professionals seeking something between traditional employment and traditional retirement, YourEncore offers a flexible, lucrative project-contract solution. To help explain its program and several other options, YourEncore is hosting a networking reception for retired scientists and technical professionals on Tuesday, September 29, at 6 p.m. at Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center in New Brunswick.

Registration for this free event is recommended, particularly for those experienced in the food, consumer goods, life sciences, or other high tech fields. Call 317-489-0623.

Michael Ferrante director of YourEncore’s new East Coast office in Cranbury, will explain his company’s Expert Program. He is joined by Aaron Fichtner, director of research and evaluation at the Heldrich Center.

Ferrante, though not near retirement age himself, claims a full understanding of high tech corporate needs and the culture surrounding such workplaces. A native of the Wolverine State, Ferrante attended the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 1993, followed by an MBA. He then came to New Jersey to work for Merck in supply chain management.

Two of his 10 years with the firm were spent in Tokyo, where he “truly learned the value of face-to-face business. The benefits from this method of business are something no amount of E-mails, phone call, or mountainously ironclad contracts can replace,” he says

Since the Indianapolis-based YourEncore Inc. opened its northeast branch, Ferrante has served at its director.

YourEncore link. In 2003 Proctor and Gamble and Eli Lily noted with alarm the great numbers of seasoned scientist leaving their fold, taking with them decades of nearly irreplaceable knowledge. In response, the companies approached a venturist team saying that if they could form a retired-professionals talent pool that could supply masters for short-term projects, they would be the first clients. Thus YourEncore Inc. was born.

Today YourEncore boasts a client list of 5,500 experts, 300 in New Jersey alone. These specialists serve such major corporate clients as Boeing, General Foods, Johnson & Johnson, and Kraft Foods. “We have a few small firms — such as a 30-person biotech in New Jersey that just hired one of our experts,” says Ferrante. He feels the small, high-tech, entrepreneurial-rich soils of new Jersey will help expand this area.

Client companies become YourEncore members. Such members are given the full roster of YourEncore Experts from which to interview and select for a project. Some recent experts include a native Chinese, U.S.-trained physician who helped in the Chinese entry strategy of a life science firm and its pharmaceuticals, and a clinical studies oversight monitor who drafted protocols and saw each test and manufacturing stage through to completion.

Lining up experts. The September 29 reception will bring several hopeful recruits into the YourEncore Experts circle. “People have to understand that this is not a full time living,” Ferrante tells applicants. “While our rates are in every way competitive with the those of outside consultants, the work is not steady.”

It is exceedingly rare to go from one 12-month project to the next without a long hiatus. Pay might be hourly, a flat fee, or on a retainer basis, depending on the client and project.

Though not expressly exclusive, most all YourEncore’s experts base their skills in science and technology. Ferrante explains that these fields require great bodies of factual knowledge that typically are acquired over decades. Unlike, say, marketing, sales, or even financial management, older tends to be better simply because they have ingested more of the existing knowledge.

“Research and development are what the member companies are calling for most,” says Ferrante. “Even though we have had some marketing and executives experts who have worked out quite well.”

The entire co-employment hurdle is one YourEncore carefully and deftly takes for both experts and member corporations. Proctor and Gamble and Eli Lily were worried about more than a brain drain when they helped launch this retiree-recruitment firm. Full time employees require full time benefits, retired veterans on contract do not. A great savings, but it’s illegal to deny benefits to one person doing equal work with one who receives them.

For the past 15 years, ever since firms like Microsoft began using contract workers interchangeably with employees, the IRS and the Department of Labor have cracked down. This legal Gordian knot is one YourEncore has successfully cut to the satisfaction of both involved parties.

The average age of YourEncore Experts is 59, and Ferrante is finding New Jersey an exceptionally rich hunting ground for experts. In a state receiving more than $500 million annually from federal and state research and development grants, New Jersey’s 206,000 high-tech workers are earning on average $89,500 to $100,000 above the national average.

“As fast as firms like Pfizer an Merck are shedding employees, the small and startup firms are picking them up,” says Ferrante. So if you have spent more than enough decades amassing great and valuable skills, it might be time to go for a new challenge with some pleasurable flexibility. After all, you have earned the right.

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