FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE….
“I don’t think ‘my story’ is that impressive to be honest,” was the opening line from a guy who spent weeks in sub zero conditions as he helicoptered to and from job sites in Russia. The same guy who was stabbed in the jugular in PNG, bleeding out in a village as a carjacking went horribly wrong. Yes Bernie, what a boring “This is Your Life!” episode it would be.
Let’s take you back to the very beginning….
As most young lads entering the construction will tell you, an apprentice carpenter is an individual injected into an industry full of hope, growth (literally!) and getting your hands dirty. Bernard Parer’s experience was no different. He quickly excelled due to his ability to collaborate effectively with colleagues and stakeholders, emerging as a leader.
After completing his apprenticeship, a young Bernie put down the tools and ventured off on his European tour, residing in Paris for a short time, before taking a tour to North America, switching direction and settling in China (as you do). It was there that he dabbled in a Foreman role before becoming a Site Manager for a structural steel and cladding company.
It was at this time that he was asked to go to Siberia, Russia, to construct a variety of bakeries, essentially “big eskies” designed to keep the warmth in. This was an environment with a ‘stop work’ at -40 degrees. Bernard spent 12 weeks in Siberia, working with an interpreter because no one spoke English. Siberia is about an 8 hour flight from Moscow and taking choppers from regional towns out to oil & gas camps due to the unstable roads in the swampland was the norm. A little different from his childhood, growing up in St George!
(Don’t worry, we’ll speed this part up so that we get to the good stuff!)
Bernard ventured back to China after this Russian stint, got promoted to a Project Manager role, came back to Brisbane back to China, then to Singapore for two years, where he built houses for Multiplex and welcomed his second child. Ahhhhh.
It was at this time that he chose to bring the family back to Australia and settle, working in Brisbane. It wasn’t long before Bernie got itchy feet, longing for the travel rush. He found himself in PNG building banks in multiple local villages, outside of Port Moresby. He became accustom to the locals and their traditions, including the regular “welcome rock!” through his windscreen as he drove through a village on the main road. If Russia wasn’t edgy enough, it was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in PNG that he remembers well! It was Valentine’s Day and he was driving back to his accommodation when two men blocked the road. With no choice but to stop, he was then car jacked and stabbed repeatedly in the neck by a knife welding man and left for dead on the side of the road. As Bernie now shows off his scars, totally downplaying the situation, he does admit, “It did get my jugular and I was losing a lot of blood, but it was luck that it didn’t hit an artery – it could have been a lot worse”.
Not one to keep a good man down, Bernie returned to PNG to complete the projects, before moving back to Brisbane when his kids started school and enjoy the quiet life of a PM in Queensland.
When asked what drove him to live in foreign lands Bernie said, “The adrenaline is addictive when you leave the relative safety of your compound. You just don’t know what you’re going to get when visiting foreign countries, especially those with a different language & distinctly different cultural backgrounds – I found it stimulating” said Bernie
Bernie is now a Senior Project Manager at Paynters, commencing in mid-2019 (with the GM promising not to send him to Siberia if anything goes wrong). He brings with him 33 years of practical experience and is a fantastic mentor for our young cadets and contracts administrators. Thanks for chatting about your incredibly fascinating life Bernie, you dark horse!
Above: One of the bakeries in regional Russia (note the boxing kangaroo on the wall of the building)
Above: Just another day, taking the helicopter to work
Working in China on Industrial Warehouses (Above & Below)