A long construction career in Queensland's North

August 19, 2020
  • People and community

From humble beginnings on a small sugarcane farm to Project Director on some of North Queensland’s largest building and infrastructure projects, CPB Contractors’ Carmelo Di Bella has enjoyed a long and successful career in the construction industry.

His start in the industry

“I grew up on a cane farm in Ingham, 100km north of Townsville, and in many ways, was destined to end up in the sugar industry,” Carmelo said.

“However, I decided to undertake a Civil Engineering degree at James Cook University in Townsville and was fortunate to be placed with Thiess as an Undergraduate Engineer in 1987 on the Burdekin Pipeline project, and the following year on the Cairns Airport Runway Extension and the International Apron project,” Carmelo said.

“Following completion of my studies in November 1989, I started working with the group on 11 December 1989 on the Magnetic Quays Marina Development project at Magnetic Island, Townsville."

Carmelo Di Bella
Carmelo working on the Cairns Airport project.

Diverse scope of work

Carmelo said his longevity with the group was due to the diverse opportunities he had been offered, from undergraduate engineer to Batch Plant Engineer, Project Engineer, Design Manager, Project Manager and Project Director.

“I have worked on pipelines, roadworks and bridges, an airport, dam and gold mine, and multi-storey building projects,” he said.

“I’ve lived in the Northern Territory and New Zealand, and regional areas including Charters Towers and Phosphate Hill, Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton.

“However, my willingness to work on diverse projects has enabled me to reside in Townsville for 23 years of my career which has been great for my wife and family.”

Carmelo Di Bella
Undertaking traffic control on a small Rockhampton road project.

Most memorable projects

When asked about his favourite projects, Carmelo – who recently finalised construction of North Shore State School and is completing the final stages of the Mater Hospital Stage 1 redevelopment in Townsville – named four: the Teemburra Dam Project, Cannington Port Development, Townsville Hospital Redevelopment and Lavarack Barracks Redevelopment.

“The Barracks Redevelopment saw us work three consecutive projects over 12 years at one of the largest Defence bases in the country. It involved extensive staging and decanting of various Army Units to construct modern facilities while not impacting the capabilities of the Brigade which had to be able to deploy within 24 hours on military or humanitarian operations,” he said.

His tips for a successful career in the industry?

“Listen to those around you, be respectful of your peers and their experience and get a mentor,” he said.

“In my early days, I learned so much from my front-line supervisors; information I could not have got from my engineering qualifications.

“I also established mentors that went on to be senior leaders in the group which helped shape my career and drummed into me the importance of a developing a strong team. It’s the same premise on which I operate my sites today; understand your people, their strengths and experiences and you will get the best out of them. 

“A strong and diverse team is critical to a project’s success. It’s also reflective of why CPB Contractors has continued to lead the industry for so many years.”

Carmelo Di Bella
Carmelo Di Bella celebrates 30 years with the CIMIC Group.

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