It isn’t often that you get a nickname with the word “young” in it at the age of 52, but that’s the situation Nick Burge found himself in when he joined the facilities management team on what is now the centralAlliance contract in New Zealand back in 2006.    

“My boss used to call me ‘young Nick’ as I was the youngest in the team of five,” Nick recalls. “The role requires a broad variety of experience, something you don’t really have until you’ve been working for a while.”

Nick’s work experience began in the British Navy which he joined out of school as a junior marine engineer. Following a 2-year apprenticeship, Nick worked his way up to Chief Petty Officer rank over a career spanning 21 years. During that time, he and his wife raised their four children in the Dorset region in the South West of England. 

Transitioning from naval to civilian career

“Generally by the time you’re approaching 40 you’re looking for a civilian role,” Nick explains. “Throughout my naval career I served in the Falklands War in 1982 and often spent two to three months away from home at a time.”

Transitioning to civilian life meant spending more time at home with his family, which Nick says his wife appreciated!

Nick’s first civilian role was as a CNC machinist, which he did until the family decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 2006 to join his wife’s sisters and their families and give their kids more opportunities. 

There were no similar roles in New Zealand, so Nick made another career transition, working for leading outdoor power equipment supplier, Steelfort.

A new life in New Zealand with centralAlliance

A few years later, he found himself supporting New Zealand’s healthcare industry as Shift Engineer on the centralAlliance contract.

Across the Manawatū and Whanganui regions, around 200 Ventia employees provide facility and fleet management, security, cleaning and other essential services at Palmerston North Public Hospital, Whanganui Hospital and other health centres in the regions.

“Shift engineers look after equipment such as boilers and HVAC systems, as well as the medical gases and other key plant,” Nick explains.

Nick says no two days are alike, with the variety of the role one of the things he enjoys most, however there are some tasks that come up relatively regularly.

“You might be surprised to know how often we have to cut titanium wedding rings off a patient’s finger,” Nick says. “We came up with a process using a Dremel to cut them off, but it requires a fair amount of care and dexterity. As you can imagine, some patients get quite nervous about the process!” 

Nick's military experience adds value to his work with Ventia

Aside from the variety, one of the key skills required to be successful in his role is good communication.

“You’re talking to nurses and other hospital staff as well as patients and their family members, and you have to be able to explain what the issue is and what you’re going to do about it. And not everything is a quick fix,” Nick explains.

That’s another way in which Nick’s experience in both the military and in life adds a lot of value to the work he does for Ventia.

Nick plans to work for a couple more years yet, noting that aside from the satisfaction he gets from doing a good job, there’s a lot of walking around in his role and it’s keeping him fit!

“I’m looking forward to seeing some younger blood join the team,” he says. 

 “We had an apprentice working with us last year, which is a great way to learn the variety of the work you could be doing on a contract like this. Hopefully it inspired him to try and lot of different things and broaden his capabilities.” 

The main thing Nick says he misses about military life is the camaraderie, although he notes you often find that same sense of being in it together in contracts like the one he’s on at Ventia.

A wealth of opportunities for continuous learning and growth

Nick is a great example of the opportunities that many contracts at Ventia offer, even to very skilled employees, to learn on the job and continue to broaden their skill set. Whether it’s learning how to maintain new equipment, or how to get the most out of technology like Building Management Systems (BMS), adding those to the raft of skills he already has keeps every day interesting for Nick.

If you’re interested in working in a role with the kind of variety and challenges Nick and his colleagues face, check out our vacancies on our careers page