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Music, Meaning and the Mainframe

Since watching the Beatles debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Jeffrey Frey has been captivated by music. He paid his way through college as a drummer in various bands, where his musical interests expanded even further. “My interest in music was always expanding, not just in terms of playing the music and the artistry itself, but also in the recording and behind-the-scenes production of music,” Frey says.

Frey’s fascination for the behind-the-scenes aspect of music continued to grow, but when he was hired at IBM, he put his musical pursuits on hold. “When I got hired at IBM, I was preoccupied with my career and starting a family,” he says. “But my interest in music never waned.”

Working With Purpose

Frey spent 32 years at IBM, where he moved through several coding, developer and programming roles. He was eventually appointed IBM Fellow and became the CTO for the IBM Z* platform. He loved every day of his mainframe career. “I couldn’t believe how much I loved it,” Frey says. “Not everyone finds something in life that they really love to do, but I found this career. It just felt natural to me.”

Frey found two careers that he truly enjoyed—working on the mainframe and recording engineering—and the two share similarities. “The people who build and operate mainframe systems are the ‘behind-the-scenes’ partners in creating value, and I think the same can be said for the job of a recording engineer,” Frey says.

Life After the Mainframe

While working at IBM, Frey built a small music room at home, allowing him to continue expanding his interests in recording and producing music. Once he retired, he enrolled in an online school for recording engineering and got an internship with Grammy award-winning producer, engineer, singer and songwriter Steve Addabbo.

From there, Frey’s career as a recording engineer continued to flourish. He and his wife Angelique are now building a professional recording studio from the ground up. “The building is going to host three businesses,” he says. “I’ll run the recording studio out of the building, but another floor will be dedicated to my wife’s two businesses: photography, and teaching Middle Eastern dance.”

Frey notes that, for mainframers, it can be daunting to think about life after retirement. But if Frey’s story demonstrates anything, it’s this: You can still live with purpose after retirement if you find something you like and pursue it. Take the leap, and you’ll be glad you did, he advises.