HONOURING A LEGEND – 15 years of service at AFL SportsReady
Con Gianniotis or “Conny” is one of AFL SportsReady’s longest serving staff members and this week marks his 15-year anniversary with the organisation. His passion, dedication and never give up attitude has always been a big inspiration not just to all the staff but to everyone who meets him.
If you have visited our Victorian office, then there is no doubt you were greeted at reception by Conny’s big smile and bubbly personality. He never ceases to make the staff laugh and he is famous for leading a mighty rendition of the Happy birthday song at our birthday celebrations. For him, working here is more than just a job, it’s an important part of his life, and he is an incredibly important part of AFL SportsReady.
“I love waking up and coming to work,” said Conny.
“It doesn’t feel like a job because I love what I do so much,” he added.
Since a baby Conny has lived with Cerebral Palsy and relies on a wheelchair and so before coming to AFL SportsReady finding work was nearly impossible.
“I had 100 interviews and no luck, I was rejected time and time again.
Then my employment agency decided to try something different, they put an image of me in the local paper and the Herald Sun and shortly after, I was contacted by AFL SportsReady and they said they would give me a go.
It was one of the best days of my life.”
In 2005 Conny was employed as AFL SportsReady’s receptionist and as an avid Tigers fan this was a dream come true.
“It was emotional but also so relieving. I struggled for so long and to finally have a job and not just any job, but one with the AFL industry, a sport I am so passionate about was the best feeling in the world.
One of the best parts about this role and what makes me happy is seeing young people get the job. For me, this is one of the most rewarding things because I know what it feels like. So that makes this role extra special.”
Someone who has played a pivotal role through Conny’s career journey and life is his manager Paul Broderick who has been there every step of the way.
“Paul has been and will always be my biggest influence. He has been a constant support right from the beginning. He always gives me new tasks, shows me how to do them and he will explain things once maybe three times and never complain. He will even come back out and check if everything is okay. I honestly believe he has the patience of a saint.
Having Paul there as my influence and Mentor has been really great. We have a strong relationship and we deeply respect one another. I can’t thank Paul enough for everything he has done for me.”
Conny has continued to learn, to grow and to develop through his 15 years, completing two traineeships and two qualifications, a Certificate III in Business and Certificate IV in Business. He has also delivered talks to students to help raise awareness about his disability.
“I used to be a really shy kid, but this traineeship has changed me. I am confident, I love talking to people, I have communication skills, it has opened me up as a person completely and shaped me into the person I am today.
One thing I feel passionate about is raising awareness about my disability and this is why I delivered the talks. I want to teach people in the community to not judge disabled people, to not be afraid but to treat us as equals, to say hello, to have a chat. You don’t need to fear someone who is disabled.”
Conny’s impact at the company reaches far beyond our office walls. He has moved and inspired host employers, trainees and many others. His number one motto in life is ‘never give up’ no matter your circumstance, you have the potential to reach for your dreams.
“I’m really proud to be working at AFL SportsReady and I hope I can continue to make an impact here for many years to come.”
We wish Conny all the best for his anniversary and will be cheering on the Tigers with him.
DATE: 15th October 2020
AUTHOR: Marissa Pagliarello