Oct 15, 2019, 05:19 AM
When Adam Gallagher was told that Citywide’s Open Space contract with Whittlesea Council was coming to an end, his world started to look a little shaky.
“I was, like, do I have to get some new skills, or find a new career, or look for another company?” says the 46-year old Operations Supervisor. “We basically had six months, and none of us knew what our future held.”
A year on, Adam knows exactly what his future holds – and he has no intention of leaving the company he’s been with since 1998. “Citywide are really helping me realise my potential,” he says. “Including potential I never knew I had!”
Adam is one of 34 full-time employees who’ve been “rehoused” in different parts of the business since our 17-year Whittlesea contract came to an end last October.
After moving first to Maribyrnong, he’s just been appointed to lead a new Open Space contract at the Port of Melbourne, as well as coordinating a number of private projects run by our Commercial Services business.
“A year ago, I thought I was about to become unemployed,” muses Adam. “Now I’m wearing two big hats and watching my career go gangbusters!”
When the Whittlesea contract came to an end, Commercial Operations Manager Brett Francescutti and People & Culture Business Partner Trang Lobos were commissioned to find jobs for up to 47 full-time staff who’d dedicated years – if not their whole careers – to the council. Over the next six months, Trang travelled to Epping weekly to meet with staff and try to find them other opportunities within the business.
“We worked closely with each employee to understand their skillsets, experience, interests and career goals, where they wanted to work and what other roles they’d consider,” says Trang.
“All vacant positions in the company were assessed against their capabilities and experience, and we spoke to various managers across the business to see what opportunities were coming up.
"In the end, we were able to find openings for 34 of the 47 employees, which was a great result for Citywide to be able to retain valuable staff.”
For many employees, the move brought new professional challenges, as well as geographical hurdles for those who, like Adam, still live in Epping. But the opportunities offered by Citywide proved more than incentive enough to stay.
“Many councils think they can get people who live and work in their area to just switch over to another contractor, but I think we’re proving that’s not the case,” says Brett Francescutti.
“In the case of Whittlesea, we retained over 70 per cent of our employees by investing in training and combing the business to find new opportunities for them. That’s what you do for good people, isn’t it?”
Brett sees the wide range of services at Citywide as a major asset when it comes to staff retention.
“The benefit of having so many different work streams is that, when you get that ‘seven-year itch’, you can find another job that suits your evolving goals,” he says.
“That diversity of disciplines creates never-ending opportunities – so if you’re someone who wants to broaden their skills, there’s always something new to get into.”
Just ask Adam Gallagher, who’s just enrolled in a course in ‘performance under pressure’, as well as receiving mentoring from a performance coach contracted by Citywide. “The days are going really quickly for me at the moment,” laughs Adam.
New landscaping business
The Whittlesea redeployment also enabled Citywide to broaden its own offerings, establishing a new LGA Capital Works division that’s enabled several employees involved in parks maintenance to transition to the planning and construction of public landscapes.
For Dario Rossi, 47, this has meant the “rediscovery” of old rock-wall building and paving skills that he learned as a young man, which have lain dormant for years.
“I was always part of the mowing crew in Epping, but with the end of that contract I’ve been able to get back to building pathways and walls in Melton,” says Dario.
“We’ve just finished building a couple of playgrounds, and I’ve also helped to build a bio-retention basin that uses gravel beds and aquatic plants to filter water in the local creek.
“This has been a great year for me – particularly in terms of expanding my skills and learning new things. I know a few blokes who’ve been in the same situation of working for a company that lost a contract, and in every case they had to fend for themselves and find new jobs.
“But that’s not been the case at Citywide. They really look after you here. It really does feel like a big, supportive family.”
Photo, inset: Adam directs a team member on a civil works project
Simon Mossman - Group Corporate Communications
M 0427 307 216