“Part of life is learning how other people live, and the difference between your culture and their culture,” says Charles Taylor ’64, a Staten Island native and Wagner chemistry major.
Taylor traveled the world during his 37-year career with Schering-Plough, a pharmaceutical company now part of Merck. Taylor started off as a laboratory chemist, but decided to switch over to the business side. He earned an MBA at St. John’s University and went into purchasing, finding ways to save the company millions of dollars.
While working in supplier quality, he visited plants in Italy, Germany, and China. He was especially fascinated by Chinese business practices and “fearsome” risk-taking. He ended up helping a new Chinese factory to write the “drug master file” required by the US government. “It was interesting,” Taylor says. “I was able to use my chemistry knowledge, business knowledge, and learn about business contracts law.”
Taylor retired in 2003 as manager of technical documentation, but he has continued to be involved in business as a volunteer consultant for SCORE, a nonprofit that helps small business owners. Often, he works with people who are looking to operate internationally, such as a would-be exporter of cars and computers to Pakistan, and an Ecuadorian chocolatier who would like to expand to China.
Taylor has also grown closer to his own Polish heritage in his retirement. His mother’s parents were Polish immigrants. During his childhood, he spent a lot of time with his grandmother and spoke Polish and English, but he knew nothing of his relatives in Poland until a few years ago. Since 2009, he has traveled to Poland several times, enjoying the hospitality and the home-brewed vodka.
Taylor has stayed closely connected to Wagner College through the years. He cheers for Seahawk football and basketball, attends the economic symposia offered by the business administration department, and enjoys Wagner College Theatre productions.
In fact, he has been involved with Wagner and theater ever since his student days. When he worked in the president’s office, he would read submissions for the Stanley Drama Awards, and he also assisted during the New York City Writers Conference held during that era.
One time, the Varsity Players even recruited him for a role on stage. It was in 1963, the romantic comedy Sabrina Fair. He was only supposed to be in a crowd scene, but ended up getting about 10 lines. “I was scared,” he remembers. “I stopped at the bar, now known as the Roadhouse, on my way and had a few drinks. I managed to do it and survived it.
“Life throws a curveball,” he quips. “The trick is to hit it.”
Taylor has made a planned gift to Wagner College that will go to fund the general endowment. He appreciates the leadership of President Guarasci, who has “changed the scope of the school totally.” He approves of the College’s expansion of its physical plant and thinks the business department is “exceptionally good.”
“I think that if you had a good life and success, you should give back to the community,” he says. “Wagner gave me the education and a base for a career and a future.”