Joel proves double knee surgery is no obstacle to career advancement

28 April 2022

After being faced with two knee surgeries' Joel Heilbronn made the most out of a bad situation by upskilling with CQUniversity to advance his career.

In 2021' Joel was diagnosed with Patella Alta' a condition where the kneecap sits higher than normal on the thigh bone making the knee less stable and prone to dislocation and anterior knee pain.

"I was told I needed to have both of my tibias cut and re-screwed into a new spot' and all of my tendons and ligaments re-positioned'" Joel recalled.

"I knew I was facing a long stint on the sidelines at work' so I enrolled into a Certificate IV in Workplace Health and Safety with CQU to complete while I recovered.

"I completed this in seven weeks due to the spare time on my hands' and because I still hadn't had my second surgery' I decided to further my studies with a Diploma of Human Resource Management.

"Since the time I enrolled' I found CQU to be extremely helpful. My lecturer' Debbie Wiggins' has been very responsive and insightful with any questions I have had for her."

Born and raised in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland' Joel holds an array of qualifications under his belt.

In his late teens' he moved to Cairns where he began his scaffolding and rigging career. Shortly after' his interest in steel fabrication was sparked.

By the time Joel was 23' he had completed an adult boilermaker apprenticeship and moved onto a Certificate IV in Advanced Engineering' where he began working for Century Cranes.

Joel' who is now 35' is a triple threat' working as a Crane Operator' and Allocations and Human Resources Assistant. He said his employer has been fantastic in supporting him and his family through both of his surgeries.

"Century Cranes are a fantastic family-owned business and have supported my family and me 100 per cent through both of my surgeries and recoveries'" he explained.

The father of three said he is passionate about return-to-work programs for employees and hopes to one day be involved in these programs at a higher level.

"Having spent significant time out of action over the years' in addition to the physical implications' I also understand the mental toll this can take on people first-hand."