- Simon Milenko CA has successfully made the switch from accountant to professional cricketer.
- A former big four staffer, he now represents Tasmania and is at home with both a bat and ball.
- The skills developed in accounting such as teamwork, leadership and problem-solving are proving helpful in Simon’s cricketing career.
It’s a long way from KPMG to the SCG but CA Simon Milenko is living the dream as a professional cricketer – and still benefitting from his early skills developed as an accountant.
While the rest of us are lining up for a summer of televised test matches, Milenko will be out there at the crease representing Tasmania.
A self-confessed cricket devotee, Milenko’s Dad is a former grade player, and not surprisingly, Milenko junior grew up with a bat in his hand, playing cricket for a number of clubs across country New South Wales.
(Pictured: Simon Milenko CA)
When university beckoned, Milenko made the move to the Gold Coast where he began playing in Brisbane grade competition. He later joined the Queensland Bulls squad, making his first-class debut for Queensland in 2014-15.
When he failed to break into the Bulls’ line-up the following season, Milenko moved to Tasmania and is currently forging a career as an allrounder with the Tasmanian Tigers in the Sheffield Shield and the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League. But plenty happened in between, and the former big four staffer says many of the skills he developed as a CA are helping him get runs on the board today.
From balance sheets to score boards
After graduating from university on the Queensland Gold Coast, Milenko was recruited by KPMG Brisbane and cricket had to take a back seat for a while as he established himself in his new career. After gaining his CA stripes, he headed to the Walz Group infrastructure service firm to take up a role he describes as “a really good career opportunity at the time”.
The move to Walz coincided with Milenko’s cricket career hitting a six.
“About three months into working for Walz Group, I was selected to play for Queensland in the Matador Cup,” says Milenko. I was upgraded to a contract that required me to play almost full-time, and while my employer was very good at letting me juggle work and cricket, once I started playing shield cricket it wasn’t really feasible to do both.”
Renowned as a versatile player, Simon’s skill with the ball shone through in 2015-16, collecting a five-wicket haul against the West Indies while playing for the Cricket Australia XI. He is also well known to Big Bash League fans, representing the Hobart Hurricanes in BBL|05.
A true all-rounder, Milenko is that rare combination of accomplished bowler and batsman. “It just happened when I was a youngster,” he explains. “I wanted to bowl and I wanted to score runs. I kept sticking at both, working equally on bowling and batting, and it just kind of panned out that’s how I ended up.”
Growing up, I would have given anything to be a professional cricketer
His persistence has paid off. “Being an all-rounder has worked for me. It's a lot more beneficial being able to both bat and bowl when it comes to the selection table.”
For Milenko, professional cricket is very much a case of living the dream. “Growing up, I would have given anything to be a professional cricketer. All my idols and all the things I loved were about sport and in particular cricket, so I wouldn't change any of that. I’m doing what I love on a day-to-day basis.”
At first glance, an accounting background may not seem to offer advantages in the cricketing world, but the two may be more closely linked than first meets the eye.
“When I was an accountant, I enjoyed what I was doing,” he notes. “It was a great base for my career, and I learnt a lot about the world of business, finance and how businesses are run and what they're built on.”
(Pictured: Simon Milenko CA)
He adds: “In terms of physical skills, nothing crosses over from accounting. But captaining a lot of cricket teams growing up certainly made working in teams at KPMG seem quite easy. And when I think all of my sport growing up, a lot of terms like leadership, communication and problem-solving were thrown around. These are exactly the kind of personal skills used in the world of accounting and business, and these are the skills that helped me make the crossover from accounting to sport.”
Milenko is aware that professional athletes have a limited shelf life but with the backing of his CA qualification, it’s likely there will be opportunities aplenty when his days in the professional league are over.
“I'll keep playing cricket at the highest level for as long as I can,” he vows. “And being a professional sportsman brings plenty of networking opportunities. This will hopefully open a few doors for life after cricket – whether that's specifically involved in cricket or something that can cross over between cricket and finance, or sport and finance generally.”
With his proven abilities both on and off the field, we are sure to hear more of Simon Milenko in the future.
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