Date posted: 13/04/2017 2 min read

West Coast Eagles CFO Amanda Cox on home ground

West Coast Eagles CFO Amanda Cox CA offers three pieces of career advice for ambitious young accountants and other professionals.

In brief

  • Accountants are an important part of any organisation, including professional sports clubs.
  • Amanda Cox CA is working on a 50-year deal to secure Perth Stadium as a new home ground for the West Coast Eagles.
  • Being loyal to a company can provide longevity in your career.

By Tony Malkovic.

Amanda Cox CA is keeping a close eye on the 2017 Australian Rules footy (AFL) season which has just kicked off.

But most of her attention has to focus on what’s happening off the field.

Cox is the chief financial officer of the Perth-based West Coast Eagles. When she joined the Eagles more than ten years ago, she was the only woman in a CFO position in the AFL.

She’s now on the executive team of a company that has a turnover of A$60 million, employs more than 125 full-time staff and about 100 support staff, and has some 65,000 members.

On top of that, she’s responsible for keeping an eye on the salary spending for the 46 Eagles players and ensuring the club does not breach its all-important salary cap. The AFL says the average salary for players now is more than A$300,000 a year. For stars like the Eagles’ Nic Natanui, it’s believed to be over the million dollar mark.

As an accountant, you’re generally in demand in most organisations. So if you set your sights on where you want to be, usually you can achieve those goals.
Amanda Cox, CFO, West Coast Eagles.

But the players aren’t her main concern at the moment, it’s sorting out a deal for their new home ground.

“Probably the most challenging and interesting thing at the moment is the new Perth Stadium and working on the negotiations for our user agreement to play there,” Cox says.

“It’s been a long process, but it’s a 50-year deal so we’ve got to get it right for the club and our members.”

Cox has one of the most challenging and senior roles in Australian sport. So what advice does she have to offer aspiring chartered accountants and up-and-coming professionals?

1. Work hard and rewards will follow

“I always say be prepared to put in the hard work first and the rewards will follow. So really, don’t expect everything to be handed to you. Your career is really about getting in there, and proving yourself.”

2: Focus on your niche or passion

“I would say seek out an industry you’re passionate about. As an accountant, you’re generally in demand in most organisations. So if you set your sights on where you want to be, usually you can achieve those goals.

"It’s really about finding your passion, somewhere you really can fit in from a cultural point of view.”

3. Make the most of your opportunities

“When I finished the CA Program, I probably wouldn’t have imagined at that point that I’d be CFO of a football club responsible for HR, risk and all the other things,” says Cox.

“Your accounting career can be a real journey. If you take those calculated risks and challenges you’ll end up with a great role that you can see yourself in for some time.”

“Your accounting career can be a real journey. If you take those calculated risks and challenges you’ll end up with a great role that you can see yourself in for some time.”
Amanda Cox, CFO, West Coast Eagles.

She wouldn’t be with the Eagles if it hadn’t been for two unrelated things: the serendipity of her sister spotting the newspaper advertisement for the Eagles job; and then Cox overcoming her initial doubts and backing herself and applying for it.

“I thought ‘I may as well give it my best shot, I’ll give it a crack’,” she says.It turned out to be a career-defining decision.

In her time with the Eagles, she’s seen them lose a grand final, win a grand final, and also witness the heart-breaking, off-field dramas involving players and drug use.

To her, it underscored the importance of another quality that’s prized in sport and business.

“I think your loyalty gets rewarded,” she says. “It’s quite easy these days to jump from job to job chasing the pay or whatever it might be.“

But I think organisations really value loyalty and reward the staff that show it. I guess I’m probably an example of that here at the Eagles.

“For instance, the club sent me on a Harvard Business School program five years ago. That was a huge opportunity for me, that I just wouldn’t have got if I were looking to move on.”

Tony Malkovic is an award-winning freelance journalist.

This article was first published in the April/May 2017 issue of Acuity magazine, which can be read in full online for free here.