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Real Business : Autumn 2008
16 REAL BUSINESS AUTUMN 2008 Cha Jordanoski is the first to admit that where she lived had much to do with her decision to join the public sector about three years ago. "I live in Canberra -- so I thought, 'Don't fight it !' Why limit your career? Like many people I had preconceived ideas about what it would be like to be a public servant, but they were myths -- totally incorrect," says Jordanoski who had spent five years working in private companies in the IT and the energy industries before making her move. Her first public sector role at the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) was an eye opener. "There was a great place to see the scope of government," she says. "Your clients are all government departments and agencies." Potentially, some 300 of them. There's also the magnitude of the money involved in the public sector, which makes a huge corporation like BHP-Billiton look dainty, Jordanoski points out. In her two-and-a-half years at the ANAO, she provided technical advice to the whole of government. She also audited several government departments, a process which she says is identical for the private sector, using Australian auditing standards. A clear benefit of a career in the public sector is this mind-boggling scope, suggests Jordanoski, 26, who recently moved into the role of financial assurance manager at the ATO. Asked to pinpoint the appeal, she replies with a question: "As an employment option, where else would you find the same range of career possibilities, flexible work practices, highly qualified work colleagues and where you don't need to lose your entitlements to change jobs?" CHA JORDANOSKI CPA AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE iNdUsTry profile: pUBLIc SEctoR The chance for variety and promotion is evident in the career of Andrew Blaskett FCPA, who started at 17 in the South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance and studied for his accounting degree part time before undertaking the CPA Program and a Masters in Com merce. He has worked across treasury and finance, in public health and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet before taking on his current role as general manager, government accounting and reporting in Treasury and Finance. He manages the fiscal policy, all financial reporting, systems and banking contracts, and sets the accounting policy for the South Australian government -- and that's before he oversees the consolidation of each year's state budget. Right now, he's assessing accounting options for a massive public hospital project. Previously he worked on accounting for the Adelaide to Darwin rail link. To evaluate funding policy options, he heard about the needs of constituents from aboriginal elders of the Pitjantjatjara commu nity. Blaskett also worked through the extensive changeover in government accou nting methods -- from cash to accrual -- in the 1990s. "The role of the public sector accountant is becoming more strategic," he says, "just as it is in the private sector. Most of the principles are the same, apart from the accountability to the public through the parliament." In an era partly defined by its skills shortage, there's a focus on shared services. The idea is to minimise transactional resou rcing to allow skilled accountants to focus on more strategic roles. "CPAs are sought as general managers due to their wide range of skills," Blaskett says. Forestry Tasmania's Egan says financial drivers are vital in a govern- ment enterprise. "All our initiatives must stand on their own two feet," she says. "Transparency is vitally important." The benefit of working for the public sector, Blaskett believes, is not having to choose one career path. You don't like audit? There are plenty of other options, he says, and most government departments offer graduate programs delivering a taste of possibilities. So, when you answer to parliament, just how much do politics encroach? "Political decisions are made by politicians," insists Blaskett. "But in the public sector, politics will always have some inf luence on operations. How services are to be provided and to whom is often a political question. To what extent do public sector accountants get involved? Our role is to develop and provide advice on policy options for governments." n ➔ nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ATO www.ato.gov.au/careers Australian National Audit Office www.anao.gov.au Other www.apsjobs.gov.au STATE AND TERRITORY GOVERNMENTS ACT www.audit.act.gov.au www.treasury.act.gov.au www.psm.act.gov.au NSW www.audit.nsw.gov.au www.treasury.nsw.gov.au www.jobs.nsw.gov.au QLD www.qao.qld.gov.au www.treasury.qld.gov.au www.opsme.qld.gov.au SA www.audit.sa.gov.au www.treasury.sa.gov.au www.graduate.sa.gov.au TAS www.audit.tas.gov.au www.treasury.tas.gov.au www.jobs.tas.gov.au VIC www.audit.vic.gov.au www.dtf.vic.gov.au www.graduates.vic.gov.au WA www.audit.wa.gov.au www.dtf.wa.gov.au www.gettingajob.dpc.wa.gov.au NT www.nt.gov.au/ago www.nt.gov.au/ntt www.nt.gov.au/dcis/hr recruitment/jobs/career.html NET GAINS Check out these public sector opportunities