Today, Marian Aldan-Pierce is hanging up her Duty Free Saipan jersey after working in the company for 44 years. During those years, Aldan-Pierce built a reputation of dependability and created strong and long lasting relationships that extends even outside her office with the community work she does.
“I had been thinking of retirement for several years now…2020 had been the target year for a while… Having worked for so long, I needed time to thoroughly think about it and get ready for a life with no deadlines, meetings, etc. Going from 100 mph to zero involves psyching oneself into doing it and I read books, talked to my family and friends, recent retirees—all of which helped,” she said.
“A good friend, Frank Stewart, always said ‘don’t retire for the sake of retiring, retire to do something.’ Great advice given a couple of years ago and so I will be retiring to a new life in Washington with my husband, children, and grandchildren. There will be good friends from Saipan who have made their ‘new homes’ in the Pacific Northwest and friends we have made in our neighborhood there over the years,” she added.
Aldan-Pierce was the very first employee of DFS Saipan and have been there since 1976 even before they had stores. “My career has been blessed by so many people—from the original four owners of DFS, and to one of the four founders, I still keep in touch with Mr. Chuck Feeney, Mr. Bob Miller had always been but an email away and Mr. Picarro who was our president for years molded several junior executives into formidable and humble ones,” she said.
“My last boss, Jim Beighley, had so much trust and confidence in me that he basically left me alone to do what I needed to do knowing that I will call when necessary—the ultimate empowerment. Lessons learned from them will forever stay with me,” she added.
Among Aldan-Pierce’s memorable moments during her journey was being the first woman to be promoted to division president for DFS Worldwide in 1995. She was the only DFS employee who have received the CEO’s Lighthouse Award twice under two different CEOs and this was the highest award of distinction at DFS for individuals.
“I have been blessed with so many awards over the years. Outside of DFS, a huge one was winning the Guam Business Executive of the Year in 2000. I was the first executive outside of Guam to have been honored with this and many, many more. The lesson I wish to impart with this is that I never set out to be rewarded with any of them, never lobbied for them—but whatever you do in life, people notice, take note and they make sure your deeds are recognized,” she said.
“DFS is a great company that has made a difference in so many people’s lives over the years and will continue to do so in the future. The overwhelming response from so many people from all over the world upon reading of my retirement I believe says a lot about the legacy that I leave and hope DFS will continue. The tribute paid to me by Mr. Martin Moodie on his Moodieblog.com and people’s reactions to my Facebook posts have been amazing,” she added.
Leaving the corporate life does not mean that Aldan-Pierce will also let go of her other passions such as hosting DFS man’amkos and other responsibilities such as the sitting chair of the Marianas Visitors Authority and one of the officers of the Northern Marianas
Business Alliance Corp.
“I will miss the sense of family with the team we have, but over the years I have hosted our DFS man’amkos which includes retirees or ‘leavers’ with whom I remained close to at my house and I plan to continue to do this,” she said.
“My term expires with MVA in early Fall 2021 and I will honor that commitment. I will continue as a senior advisor to various ongoing revitalization projects because I have historical knowledge of our industry and so I will still be quite engaged on community matters for a while,” she added.
Aldan-Pierce’s position will not be filled as the position will retire with her. “The company has been restructured over the years making it obsolete—I was the last one. Charles Bell, a DFS transplant from Macau, is our regional VP for Operations and he will be the go-to person for Saipan matters. Charles and his family have moved to Guam where he is based,” she said.
“Charles has been a friend for years and will be a great addition to our DFS family in the region. The charitable arm of DFS will be handled by Ester Ada, our HR manager,” she added.
Instead of going to work on Sept. 1, Aldan-Pierce is looking forward to do two things on that day. “I will be in Washington with my husband hopefully having a huge steak and fresh strawberries! ….We have had a house there for 24 years that I have not had time to thoroughly enjoy,” she said.
“Going to annual bike treks with biking buddies I met in Italy three years ago around Europe is a part of my retirement plan…We’re meeting in Ireland in 2021 for a mini reunion—exploring the state of Washington. Part of my list as well are visiting family and friends all over the United States, volunteering for lots of different organizations and the list is endless,” she added
MD: Today, Marian Aldan Pierce is hanging up her Duty Free Saipan jersey after working in the company for 44 years. Those many years with DFS has made Aldan-Pierce build a reputation of dependability and has created strong and long-lasting relationships that extends even outside her office with the community work that she does.
KW: Marian Aldan-Pierce, Duty Free Saipan, business, corporate, Saipan.