The smell of battered fish, chicken salt and vinegar is everywhere as hungry customers wait patiently for a feed from one of the city’s busiest takeaways.

It’s a weekend tradition in the Northern city and the Gianoulis family are hard at it with ten year old Charlie on the deep fry and older brother George slicing chips.

“Mum and Dad were good old fashioned hard workers,” Charlie said.

“They were simple Greek immigrants who ran that shop for more than 20 years.

“People would come from across town to get their Friday night feed from our shop; it was always flat out back then.

“They’d order their chips then go next door for a beer at the Australian Hotel while they waited.”

That experience of working in a busy family business left a big impression on Charlie Gianoulis.

“It taught me the value of working hard and working together.

“It was all we really knew.

“Some mornings I’d hand-slice a pile of potatoes before I even started school.

“Then I’d get myself dressed, make my own lunch and head off to class.”

Charlie Ginaloulis looks at schematic map on the wall

Fast forward almost five decades and Charlie still reckons hard work is at the core of everything he does.

He’s about to chalk up 40 years in the electricity industry and all of it at Ergon and its predecessors.

Starting as an apprentice fitter mechanic, he’s now the Principal Systems Engineer for Ergon in North Queensland.

It’s a role that over the years has allowed Charlie to oversee plenty of change in the industry including large scale projects like last year’s restoration of power at Mica Creek and finding ways to resolve significant network issues such as the city-wide blackout of Mackay in 2011.

He also spent nearly 20 years in senior roles in the Northern Operations Control Centre and was the catalyst for the creation of the capital works estimates program for NORQEB.

“Technology has changed that’s for sure and the challenge is not just keeping up with it but trying to stay ahead.

“The job always has challenges but it’s about meeting those challenges and taking ownership over what you do.

“These days, people seem scared to make decisions because they’re worried about making mistakes.

“I’m ok with my staff making mistakes as long as they learn from it and own it.

“Otherwise how else do you learn?”

Charlie’s blue collar upbringing has meant he’s always been approachable.

His parents struggled with English as a second language, so he and his brother found themselves interpreting for them on a regular basis.

“Dad was a very proud-man, he’d gotten through the Second World War as a prisoner of war in an Italian camp so he knew a thing or two about doing it tough.

“He’d work hard in the shop and George and I would do a lot of serving of customers and that’s where I learnt plenty of stuff about dealing with people face to face.

“I’ve always believed that it’s been a real strength of mine, I’m always happy to chat to someone no matter what the subject.”

Charlie has seen plenty of change in his time, so what advice would he have for young people entering the industry today?

“Pick a role that isn’t monotonous or you are going to go crazy.

“It’s why I’m still at Ergon and still in North Queensland.

“I’ve changed roles a number of times across the company and now in my current position every day is different.

“There’s always new challenges to deal with and that part of the job to me at least, is still exciting.”