Celebrating 100 years: Ivan's Story

Ivan Garrao has been our Security Officer since 2012.

14 Jun 2022

If you’re familiar with our 7 London Circuit workspace, then you’ll know how wonderful it is to step through our doors to be greeted by our unofficial Friendly Face of CSC, Ivan Garrao.
‘On a cold, wet and miserable day there’s nothing worse than walking into a building and someone not giving you the time of day. I know that a smile and a hello go a really long way!’

He’s often the first person new starters meet when they eventually arrive in Canberra.

‘I get to meet everyone for the first time when they come in. But since COVID, so many new people have started working for the organisation remotely that I probably have about 40 or 50 passes in my safe that haven’t been collected yet!’

During his 10-year journey with the business, Ivan acknowledges that his role has transformed beyond protecting people and assets — he’s become more frontline and more involved with our customers. He’s the person who helps our customers complete their request form and sends these to the Call Centre or the Member Education Team. Quite often he’s still with the customer when they receive a call — and they haven’t even left the building!

With a security career spanning more than 20 years, Ivan has guarded for the US Embassy, the Youth Detention Centre, and even old Parliament House. But it was working the night shift at the former Belconnen office, that gave Ivan more than a few spooky tales to share.

‘At night when I knew there was no one else in the building, sometimes the taps would spontaneously turn on. Or the lifts would suddenly move to another floor but no one was in them pressing the button. Occasionally I would smell perfume, it was as if someone had walked into the room but there was no one there, not even a jacket left on the back of a chair. Sometimes I just sensed that someone was following me.’

Not one to be easily put off, Ivan credits his parents for his strong work ethic and values. Originally from Chile, Ivan’s parents decided to move the family back to Chile when Ivan was just 8 years old. (He had to learn how to read and write Spanish real fast!) Then, several years later, the family once again moved back to Australia, eventually settling in Sydney.

‘My family had to start from scratch all over again. My old man was my greatest mentor. From the day I was born, my dad always worked three jobs. He would do cleaning work early in the morning, then go to his full time job, and then more cleaning work in the evening.

I have his work ethic. Even as a young boy I worked with my dad cleaning the schools early in the morning. I worked hard for my first pair of Nike’s. Every day I’d go to the store and look at them. It took me six months to raise the money but I finally bought them — with my own money! I was taught, if you want something you have to work for it. And I try to instil this in my son.’

But according to Ivan, 7 London Circuit is by far one of the best buildings he’s worked in. Compared to Belconnen, it’s super modern!

‘The owner of the building is always doing nice things, for instance when the honey is ready from our rooftop beehives, it’s bottled and placed in a little honey stall in the foyer. And recently we had a gelato day — everyone who came in could get free gelato in lots of different flavours.’

A security guard’s role is to not only keep the premises secure, but to also keep everyone inside safe. And Ivan says his job is all about the people. He’s made many lifelong friends at CSC, especially the ones who are happy to go to the footy with him! He’s watched people’s careers grow and evolve as they start in one team, change teams, and gain higher positions. Some were just starting their first job when Ivan joined ten years ago, and now they’re married with children!

‘When someone leaves, it’s really quite sad. It’s incredible. Unfortunately, last year we had a few staff pass away and we feel it. It’s like losing a family member. Not everyone is as nice as these people. I spend more time here than I do at home; they’re like a family so you start to really care about these people.’

I’ve always thought, if you treat people nicely, that’s the way people are going to treat you. So I try to do that each and every day.

Ivan Garrao

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