Strategic planning and student complaints: all in a day's work

Ross Springolo FCPA believes his CPA Australia designation adds kudos to his professional experience.

A willingness to have a go has led Ross Springolo FCPA to the heart of tertiary education.

By Rachael McKinney

Ross Springolo’s first job after graduating, at the Roman Catholic Trust Corporation for the Diocese of Rockhampton in Queensland, wasn’t actually the one he’d been going for, but that didn’t stop him seizing the opportunity. 

“I didn’t realise that they were interviewing for two positions; one guy got the graduate education job that I had applied for, and I was lucky enough to get a job at the diocesan office,” he recalls. 

For Springolo, who graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) from the University College of Central Queensland in 1990, it was the start of a career shaped by opportunity.

Springolo spent three years working in the Diocesan Development Fund, the commercial management arm of the Catholic Diocese, but didn’t find his professional calling there. When the role of examinations manager came up at Central Queensland University (CQU) in 1994, it was the chance for a change.  

"...to have the designation of being a CPA would be a powerful, powerful tool."

“The degree that I had qualified me to do a range of things, so I thought well I’ll give that a go just to try something different, trying to find my fit.”  

It was the start an administrative career spanning 11 years, that took him from managing exams to managing budgets in the registrar’s office, before moving to the office of the deputy vice chancellor, corporate and international, in Brisbane in 2002 as an “internal consultant” to the university’s ancillary businesses. 

“It was interesting and challenging work, and I got an insight [into] the operations of a bookstore, press, residential college, travel agency and alumni office,” says Springolo. 

Still, after more than a decade with CQU, it was time for a change. When Charles Darwin University (CDU) – a merger of the Northern Territory University, Centralian College and Menzies School of Health Research – advertised for a director of strategic planning, Springolo saw an opportunity advance his career. He started working at CDU in Darwin in 2005.

“I spent probably the first year doing strategic planning and after that it sort of morphed into a more expansive role.”

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His role soon absorbed the tasks of governance and internal audit and, today, Springolo also has responsibility for risk management, student complaints, freedom of information, company secretarial and legal services. It’s by far the most interesting and diverse role of his career, he says.

Springolo had been an associate member of CPA Australia after graduation but his membership lapsed around 2000. In his ever-expanding role at CDU, however, he realised it was time to get back on board. 

“I had it in my mind that to have the designation of being a CPA would be a powerful, powerful tool”, he recalls.

He achieved his CPA Australia designation in 2008, almost 20 years after first being a student member, and he became an FCPA in 2010. He’s also a fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). 

Springolo believes his CPA Australia designation adds kudos to his professional experience, something that’s reflected in the range non-executive directorships he’s also been invited to hold, including with Melaleuca Refugee Centre and the Northern Centre for Contemporary Arts. It seems when opportunity knocks, Ross can’t help giving it a go. 

One piece of advice

“You’re not always going to be 100 per cent successful, but why not give it a go.”

Read next: Why non-accountants should consider a finance career


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May 2018
May 2018

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