HE started out working with PMG (now Telstra) in the days of the old cord-in-the-jack telephone switchboards and has seen many pieces of “brand-new, state-of-the-art” equipment become quaintly outdated.
Now Walcha’s Barry Watt is set to call it a day on his 50-year career with the telecommunications company.
As a sign of his colleagues’ respect for his work and longevity, Mr Watt was treated to a morning tea and presentation at Wests’ Diggers on Wednesday, a dinner with managers that night and even a coastal weekend getaway with his wife Pam.
Mr Watt said the biggest factor in staying happily in his job for five decades had been his workmates.
“Ninety-five per cent of the people I’ve worked with, I’ve got on well with and enjoyed their company, and that’s sort of what kept me going on it.”
Mr Watt is on long service leave until his official retirement. He and Mrs Watt plan to do some home renovations, then hit the rails and the high seas, with a trip on the Indian Pacific and a cruise on the to-do list.
Mr Watt started his working life as a telegram boy, delivering messages on pushbike to businesses and residences in Walcha, before applying for a job with PMG.
One of the many changes he’s seen in his long employment has been not only the equipment and technology used, but also the way in which workers have been trained in it.
When he began with PMG, he spent 12 months at a training college in Strathfield and for a time would have a fortnight’s training there three or four times a year; these days, many training sessions are done via e-learning.
He said it hadn’t been difficult to stay on top of changes in technology, as long as he committed to it.
“While ever you’re always learning, you can keep up with it,” he said.
Mr Watt said he would keep fond memories of things such as sitting down in paddocks, working with cables while surrounded by curious cows; and spending hours driving to some customer’s remote house, doing a quick job and driving hours back.
Mr Watt said he’d met some interesting people in all his years of working in customers’ homes, among other places.
“Some of the characters I’m afraid I can’t say much about, otherwise I’ll get strung up,” he said.