In a bustling tourism destination like Ambergris Caye, utilities are an absolute necessity. In order to have water, cable, telephone, and electricity functioning properly, the community needs hard working, educated professionals. One person who has dedicated the last 14 years to illuminating the streets and homes of Belize is Ernesto Gomez.
Ernesto was born on October 2nd, 1962 to Tomasita and Ernesto Gomez. Growing up in San Pedro Town alongside his brother and sister, Ernesto recalled being able to play in the middle of the street, since there was absolutely no traffic on the island at that time.
Ernesto first attended the San Pedro Roman Catholic Primary School and after successfully completing his studies there, he enrolled at Wesley College in Belize City, majoring in science. After graduating in 1979, he entered Belize Technical College, where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Mathematics and Chemistry.
In 1981, as a show of support for Belize’s independence, the Mexican Embassy offered scholarships to Belizean students. Ernesto was honored to be one of three people chosen to study at El Instituto Tecnológico de Merida. Although the scholarship paid his tuition, living expenses would have put a financial strain on his family, so after some initial hesitation, he decided to try it on his own and bid his family farewell.
For the next four and a half years, Ernesto earned extra cash or received meals at the cafeteria by maintaining the institute’s laboratory and assisting with school projects. "I did the best I could to get the most out of the education I was receiving. Money was always short, so these were not the easiest years of my life," he commented. All of his hard work paid off though, when Ernesto received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in February of 1987.
Fresh out of college, Ernesto got a job at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Belmopan as an Industrial Project Officer. For the next two years, he analyzed all of their industrial, marketing and business loans, and reported these findings to his supervisors. Ernesto would review every aspect of the business applying for a loan, from the raw materials needed, to the delivery of the finished product. If the proposal appeared financially viable, Ernesto would give the business a positive recommendation.
On September 2nd, 1989, Ernesto wed his longtime friend and the love of his life, Emilia "Millie" Alamilla. Today, they are the proud parents of four wonderful children – Elina (13), Ernesto (11), Emily (9), and Eduardo (3).
Leaving the DFC, Ernesto was next employed by Belize Food Products, a juice manufacturing company situated in Alta Vista in the Stann Creek District. As the plant’s factory engineer, Ernesto was responsible for overseeing the overall production of the juices. "It entailed a significant amount of work: from the washing of the fruits and the extraction of the juice, to the packaging, sale and delivery of the product," he explained.
After one and a half years on the mainland, Ernesto was looking to find a job closer to home. He applied for a position as the San Pedro Branch Manager at Belize Electricity Limited (BEL). After reviewing Ernesto’s qualifications, the general manager hired him to manage the entire Western Zone of Belize. Ernesto’s new job entailed everything from generation and distribution of electricity to revenue collection.
In 1994, Ernesto received another educational opportunity. This time he traveled to Belfast, Ireland to understudy the Northern Ireland Electrical Company. For the next six months, he studied the secrets behind the electric company’s reputation for having the highest standards of reliability. Ernesto focused on the relationship between the regulator (Government), the company, and the customer. "Understanding the importance of these links is vital in providing the best service available," he commented.
In 1995, Ernesto received the position he had originally applied for – BEL’s San Pedro Branch Manager, but with the added responsibility of overseeing Caye Caulker, Punta Gorda and Independence. "It was very challenging. Most of my work was either done on a plane or while waiting for my flight to take off!" he exclaimed.
In 1997, BEL conducted a study, from which consultants proposed eliminating Zone Managers and installing functional, logistical managers. In April of 1998, Ernesto was named Purchasing and Stores Manager for the entire country of Belize, responsible for the purchasing and inventory of all materials acquired by BEL. Ernesto is now involved in the entire supply chain process: searching for and evaluating the equipment supplier, placing the purchase order, bringing the goods into the country and delivering the items to the work-site. "Our most important purchase has to be the millions of gallons of diesel fuel we import from Mexico to be used for our generators every year," he said. For the past six years, Ernesto has traveled back and forth between BEL’s Belize City office and his home in San Pedro. "It is a lot of responsibility, but one that I enjoy immensely," he said.
In his free time, Ernesto assists his family with their business decisions but always makes time for his wife and kids. Every year, they go on a family vacation to spend some quality time together. On the weekends, Ernesto enjoys picnics and long walks on the beach.
Ernesto has learned the value of a sound education, a lesson he instills in his children. "If you have the desire to learn, it is not very hard; motivation is the key to getting an education. It does not have to be the best school in the world. But wherever you choose to study, it is important that you get everything you can from the lessons being taught," he advised.
A hardworking professional and a loving family man, Ernesto Gomez is proud to help "light up" the lives of the people of "Our Community."