Where are they now Brendan O'Connell (SPC 1975-80)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College recently reconnected with Brendan O’Connell (SPC 1975-80) who initially carved out a career in banking, but is now happily working as Professor of Accounting at RMIT University in Melbourne and also holds several other positions including the Global President of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
I have been very fortunate to live a full life of travel and career since leaving SPC at the end of 1980.
I initially spent five years working around Western Victoria in the ANZ Banking Group as a Bank Officer. I then returned to full time study where I completed a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) at the Ballarat College of Advanced Education (now Federation University).
After finishing my degree I worked for several years as a bond dealer and financial analyst in the investment banking industry with Bankers Trust Australia (now part of Macquarie Bank). After becoming tired of the pressures in banking, I looked for a career change and accepted a position at Monash University as a lecturer in accounting and finance in 1992.
I completed my PhD there in 1999 and have worked at numerous universities in Australia and overseas since then. Highlights of my academic career over the past 27 years include working in the US with the University of Richmond in Virginia and the University of Rhode Island.
I have also taught accounting and finance topics in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
I am currently a Professor of Accounting at RMIT University in Melbourne. I have also maintained close ties with the accounting profession in Australia. For five years I was a member of the Victorian Divisional Council of CPA Australia and in 2014 I was Victorian State President of CPA Australia. I am currently Global President of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
Without doubt the friends that I made during those formative years. I also enjoyed the active, sporting culture of SPC although I was not a star when it came to football etc.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Brother Miller. He was tough on us but fair. I think that he knew I had potential, but that I was coasting too much while at SPC. He pushed me to work harder and my final result in General Mathematics at HSC level was in his words at the time, “a pleasant surprise”.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I think that it taught me discipline and the need to work hard and persist to achieve my potential in career and life.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
The importance of family and faith was always emphasized to us.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
There is a big world out there and there is no reason why someone from Ballarat can go on to develop their career overseas.