How a CPA made it to the Cricket World Cup

It's arguably the world's third biggest sporting event engaging about one-fifth of the world's population, and for hosts Australia and New Zealand, staging the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 has been an operation years in the making.

“If you want to compare it to anything, it is really a start-up business,” Luke Spano CPA, financial controller at Cricket World Cup, tells intheblack.com.

“You've got absolutely nothing when you start.”

Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd, the entity, started with just one employee – chief executive officer John Harnden – in early 2012. It has since grown into a company of about 150 full-time staff, with an army of contractors and a 4000-strong volunteer force.

As financial controller, Spano was one of the company's early hires and tasked with the gargantuan role of developing a three-year financial strategy covering operations in both Australia and New Zealand while working with the needs of their business partners and key stakeholders.

“There's quite a lot that goes into this, and Cricket World Cup 2015 is one cog in a very, very big wheel,” he says.

Following 2006 when the International Cricket Council (ICC, which owns the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament) named Australia and New Zealand as the 2015 hosts, Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket decided to set up a separate company – Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd– to manage the event.

In effect, the entity delivers the operational elements required by its business partners: the ICC (including its sponsors and broadcast agreements), Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket.

“Everyone has their own part to play: the ICC has their part of play, the ICC sponsors have their part to play; the broadcasters have their part to play, obviously the venues in Australia and New Zealand do all their things, and the caterers, the cleaners, the ushers and all those sorts of things,” he says.

“So it's a very big machine and we're just one part of it.”

For a start-up with a three-year deadline, Spano says the CEO started by hiring a senior management team, which developed its strategy then hired its own teams before moving into the day-to-day operations of dealing, contracting and procurement.

“It's really the pinnacle of cricket – this is the tournament that all the players want to play.”

The company was incorporated in Australia with a branch office in New Zealand, and Spano says the new unified-company approach to the World Cup has been more efficient, both operationally and from a marketing perspective, while also being a smoother event experience for the fans.

“From a finance point of view, we have a shared service office out of Australia, so we have all of our accounts payable, accounts receivable, and our payroll processed through our office in Australia, but we do have a couple of resources on the ground in New Zealand,” he says.

Those resources include a financial accountant, an admin resource, procurement support and someone to oversee finance and legal operations.

Three years of preparation all drew together on February 14 to March 29 when more than one billion people from around the world tuned in to join one million spectators in watching the world's best players from 14 cricket-playing nations compete.

“It's 49 games over about 44 days, so there's a lot of cricket to be played,” says Spano.

“It's really the pinnacle of cricket – this is the tournament that all the players want to play.”

 

The path to the Cricket World Cup: Luke Spano’s career history

2012: Financial Controller, Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd

2011: Manager Financial Planning and Analysis, Cricket Australia

2009: Manager Financial Accounting, Cricket Australia

2007: Senior Group Accountant, AXA

2006: Senior Corporate Financial Accountant, AXA

2005: Subsidiary Financial Accountant, AXA

2005: Management Accountant, Blockbuster Australia

2003: Assistant Accountant, Blockbuster Australia


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