Working for Whitehorse

Whitehorse News - August 2020

Fernando Gonzalez has worked at Whitehorse for just over a year and brings a world of breadth and experience to his role.

A major achievement made by Fernando and his team at Whitehorse over the past year was the completion of flood light upgrades to several parks in Whitehorse. He has also overseen the reconstruction of netball and basketball courts in Mont Albert, which included removal and rebuild of asphalt, new goal posts, line markings and construction of a 1.8m fence along court boundaries.

Born in Chile, Fernando migrated to Melbourne with his family at the age of five. Wanting to be an architect like his father, however, in his words, “couldn’t draw for peanuts,” he followed his strengths of maths and science and became an engineer. After completing his study at Monash University, Fernando’s graduate position was working on a Melbourne office block. He yearned to see the world and experience other cultures and moved to Singapore for work. Here, he was employed for three years by the Bouygues Group – Dragages Singapore Pte Ltd where he worked on the Millenia Walk Shopping Mall, Centennial and Millenia Towers Project.

After an offer as Project Manager with Emaar Properties, Fernando moved to Dubai and worked on two significant hotel and resort projects. The first was, The Address, a 63 story 5* hotel located in downtown Dubai close to Burj Khalifa Tower (tallest building in the world) and the luxurious resort, Kingdom of Sheba with IFA Hotels & Resorts. And yes, that is one of the resorts that you will find on the palm crescent shaped island for which Dubai is renowned!

Returning to Australia, Fernando worked on the ten kilometre Sydney underground railway project connecting CBD to the Airport (joint venture between Bouygues and Transfield) at the International station. He has since also worked in Mauritius and Singapore on multiple mixed use projects, where residential development is mixed with retail and commercial.

Having hoped, he would one day return home, Fernando has now settled back into Melbourne life and his role at Whitehorse.

Fernando has enjoyed serving the community in his first role in the public sector and found the diversity of the role satisfying. “With so many of my career highlights having been longterm, I have found satisfaction in the completion of several projects within a year”. Fernando has particularly enjoyed working alongside other departments at Council “to deliver top quality projects within allocated construction programs and budgets”.

Fernando is passionate about his job and can talk easily about the benefits of LED lights compared to the older technology of metal halides. “LEDs are an energy efficient solution which reduce the carbon footprint to support the environment and are more cost effective to maintain”. Along with his team, Fernando is delighted with the improvements to the upgraded sports fields and comments, “there is an even lux level (brightness) across the grounds now and the quality of light is improved, both for athletes and spectators.”

He has found aspects of his role challenging compared with work in the private sector, such as bearing responsibility for the health and safety of the public. In the private world, building sites are closed to public access when development is underway, however this is not viable when working for the public. Sports fields can’t be closed for the duration of development and Fernando and his team work together to complete projects while simultaneously maintaining safe worksites.

A day in the life of a Civil Engineer at Whitehorse is a mix of working in an office environment, planning or progressing projects, combined with time spent on-site, checking on the quality and progression of projects. Fernando’s role hasn’t changed much during the pandemic - he still maintains time on-site and now works from home, instead of in the office. He found he needs to be really organised during this time to coordinate meeting his colleagues on-site when required.