The subject is serious.

Charlie Junior wants to leave school to join the Air Force and become an electronics technician but Mum and Dad aren’t so keen.

They see the value in education and so go about explaining to young Charlie that school is where he’s staying.

It’s a bitter blow for a headstrong teenager who already knows what he wants to do with his life.

“I was really upset with Mum and Dad.

“I felt like I was ready to leave school and get stuck in to work, I thought the Air force would be a great fit, they on the other hand didn’t quite see it that way.”

Charlie went on to complete high school and with a dream of working in the electrical industry still firmly planted in his head, he applied and was accepted to become an apprentice for FNQEB and so began a career that to date has spanned more than 30-years.

Image of Charlie Casa looking at equipment  “It was an interesting time to be a newcomer to the industry.

“Two weeks after I started in 1986, Cyclone Winifred lashed the coast near Innisfail.

“I very quickly went from a ‘green’ apprentice to a member of the recovery team.”

In fact Charlie is well known for his love of rolling up his sleeves and mucking in.

He’s spent time working across the entire Far North Queensland region, from the Torres Strait to the Tableland and all stops in between.

From humble beginnings as a fitter mechanic, leading hand and acting foreman, Charlie moved on to more senior management roles overseeing large scale projects and overcoming significant logistical problems.

“The reason I’ve been able to progress through Ergon?

“Well it’s for three reasons really.

“First of all I’ve had fantastic managers to learn from, people with real talent and drive that have taught me so much.

“Then there’s the people I’ve worked with and have worked for me, really good people who do their jobs so well and never let me down.

“Finally I just love my job.

“I never wake up in the morning and wish I was doing something else, I’ve been really fortunate to do something that I love, after all these years I still have the hunger and the drive.”

Charlie’s current role is as the Customer Delivery Manager for Far North Queensland.

In essence he’s the link between Ergon and the Far North’s customers, communities and decision makers, providing up to date information to keep people informed of anything power related across the region.

“I’ve been in this industry a fair while now and one thing I’ve learnt is that customer service isn’t just two words, we have to do it; we have to provide it.

“I enjoy solving problems for people or finding a way to get a message out to the media about the great work our guys are doing.

Safety is another key area Charlie remains strongly committed to.

He’s seen his fair share of accidents over the years and makes it a cornerstone of his work ethic to do whatever he can to make sure people are safe.

“I always say to the guys, let’s do a good job but let’s all go home at the end of the day.

“The ‘safety first’ message isn’t just a statement, we have to live it, it’s serious.”

Charlie has worked with hundreds of Ergon staff over the journey and he remains a mentor to many across the state.

“It’s very satisfying to see young staff come through the system and succeed, that’s all the thanks I need.”

And with more than 80 new apprentices coming on board with Ergon this month, Charlie Casa has some advice as they enter their new roles.

“It’s a fantastic place to work.

“Put your head down, work-hard, make the effort to put in because lots of fantastic opportunities will come your way in this business.”

So does he ever think what would’ve been if Mum and Dad had relented and let him join the Air Force?

“No not really, they did the right thing and every day I work for Ergon I thank them for it.”