An Eye on Agilent Test & Measurement

January 8, 2010

Still working after all these years: Agilent’s Joyce Bertozzi is 50-year Employee

Filed under: Employees,Uncategorized — janetsmithagilent @ 9:44 pm

In October 2009, Joyce Bertozzi celebrated 50 years as an HP/Agilent employee. As far as we know, she is the company’s longest-serving active employee.

In 1959, the United States gained its 50th state, Fidel Castro became the premier of Cuba, and the dark side of the moon was photographed for the first time.  The integrated circuit was patented and the Barbie doll made its debut.

In 1959, Agilent’s predecessor company, Hewlett-Packard, had revenues of $48 million and implemented a stock purchase plan for its 2,378 employees.  HP became a global company that year by establishing a marketing organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and a manufacturing plant in Boeblingen, West Germany.

In October 1959, high school graduate Joyce Walthers applied for a job at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Calif.  “My girlfriend told me they were hiring,” Joyce recalls.  “If you got into production work or assembly work, it paid more money than office work did.  And I didn’t want to do office work.”

HP offered applicants a free, three-week night course in wiring and soldering.  “They didn’t guarantee that they would hire you; they just gave you a certificate,” Joyce says.  “And if they wanted you or thought that you were qualified, they’d include a hiring slip with it.”

Joyce was one of the lucky ones, and she took a job in HP’s printed circuit department.  “This was before assembly lines,” Joyce says.  “We did each step, which was nice.  They would give you a box of boards and resistors.  You would load the boards, then take them to the solder pot and solder them one at a time.  They were soldered with an eyelet from top to bottom.  Then you’d wash them in a dishwasher and clean them up.”  The job paid $1.45 an hour.

Fifty years later, Joyce Bertozzi is still hard at work at Agilent in Santa Clara, Calif.  She is an administrative assistant for Agilent’s New Product Introduction team, which recently became a part of the Life Sciences Group.  And she has no plans to retire.

“I turned 68 in July,” Joyce says.  “I’m just a sweet young thing.”

The only constant is change

Joyce has seen her share of change over the past half-century.  “What amazed me was how fast HP moved, once it started expanding,” she says.  “It went to Colorado, then it was back east, then it went overseas.  It just surprised me.  And then they got into the computer stuff.  I bought a calculator and thought, ‘I’m actually buying something that HP makes.’  First time.”

Joyce believes that today’s overall business world has changed – not necessarily for the better – and that the change has affected people’s lives.

“Business is a lot more cutthroat than it was years ago,” Joyce remarks.  “It’s more of a struggle than it used to be because there was less competition then.  If you could build a good reputation and a good product, it was easier to survive.

“The atmosphere used to be more relaxed. When I began my career, you went to work and you went home.  Your work stayed at work and your home life was separate.  Nowadays you have so much contact with your work, thanks to computers and cell phones, it seems like you can’t get away from it.  And I think it’s more stressful for people.”

For the most part, Joyce has been able to roll with the changes.  “The only very difficult change for me was moving from a production environment into a cubicle,” Joyce recalls.  “It was so different.  They kept talking about stress, and we were never stressed in production.  When I got into a cubicle, I thought, ‘So that’s what they’re talking about!”

What does Joyce see as the biggest change in the company over the past 50 years?  “Probably the split [in 1999], when they made it two companies.

“When they decided to split, I had 40 years with the company,” Joyce says.  “It was a difficult decision to leave HP because that was the only place I’d ever worked.  But I decided that I had a job where I was secure and happy in what I was doing.  So I stayed with Agilent, and it was a good decision.  A really good decision.”

Does Joyce have any words of wisdom for her fellow employees?  “Just be prepared for whatever happens,” she suggests.  “You never know what’s around the corner.  And to me, accepting change and rolling with it is a lot easier than fighting it.  Just be patient, because it’ll turn out good one way or the other.”

Still looking forward

After 50 years, Joyce shows no signs of slowing down.  “I like working here,” she says.  “I’m not ready to retire.  As long as I’m able and of sound mind, I’d like to come to work.  I think it keeps you young to stay up on what’s going on.  And I enjoy the people.  The people are great.”

Joyce still has one more milestone that she’s aiming for.  “There was one guy at Agilent who got 52 years before he retired,” Joyce says.  “He got 50 when I got my 45.  So my goal is to beat 52.  I’m shooting for the record.”

Joyce is congratulated on her long career by Agilent executives (from left) Lon Justice, Bill Sullivan, Chris Toney, Nick Roelofs and Mike McMullen.

1 Comment »

  1. Congrats, Joyce! I feel like young pup as I’ve only just turned 55 this month.

    Your reminiscences bring back memories of my career as an electronics technologist working at a telecom board manufacturer in the 1970s. Although I didn’t solder discrete components to a PCB like you did, the company did everything under one roof, including put boards through etching solutions and bend aluminum brackets for enclosures.

    Keep on truckin’
    Mike Edwards, Editor
    Canadian Electronics magazine

    Comment by Mike Edwards — January 19, 2010 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

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