Phu Nguyen FCPA may only be 36, but he has already reached a senior position at Victoria’s biggest local government and capital city council.
Phu is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the City of Melbourne and says the ability to make a difference to his community inspired him to build a successful career in government.
“My attraction to the sector is the diversity, complexity and variety of challenges and opportunities available within the sector,” Phu says.
He adds: “Success outcomes for the community both now and into the future require considered public policy positions that deliver social, sustainable and commercial value to the community. It's more than just the bottom line numbers.”
Government accounting and finance roles
Phu has been working in government for 15 years in a variety of different accounting and finance related roles.
He started his professional career in the private sector working as a Banking Officer at financial services and consulting company, William Mercer. At the same time, he was studying a Bachelor of Business in Banking and Finance at Monash University in Melbourne during evenings and says this time in his life helped to build personal character which has shaped his career.
“Getting through the experience of doing full-time work and an equivalent full-time study load three nights a week helped me to build resilience. That experience gave me great confidence in my ability to persevere towards my professional goals and has been instructive in building my career.”
Shortly after completing his degree, Phu was offered his first position in local government at the City of Port Phillip and then joined the City of Melbourne as a Commercial Investments Officer.
Over the next few years he worked his way up the corporate ladder at the council and also spent time working at what was then the Department of Human Services.
Then in 2010, Phu was offered the CFO position and he hasn’t looked back.
“In many ways I feel very fortunate to have worked with inspirational and great leaders. These individuals showed courage in providing me with opportunities at an early age. These opportunities fostered my professional development and I was able to grow the breadth and depth of my experience enabling me to do the role I am in today.”
How the CPA Program has helped
On reflection, Phu believes studying the CPA Program and being awarded the CPA Designation has helped to open up a number of opportunities in his career, which he otherwise might not have had.
“I think the accounting profession is becoming more competitive and I think the CPA Program is advantageous if you want to advance to a senior role. My view is that you can still progress to senior roles without the qualification but it makes it a lot harder.”
When asked about his future career plans, Phu says he wants to continue to develop as a CFO at the City of Melbourne.
“I would like to continue to grow and develop to become an even better CFO. My current role provides enough scope for that to occur. Having said that, I would never limit myself as to where my career would take me. So if there are other opportunities to progress beyond the CFO role I would certainly embrace that, but it’s not an active goal.”
Tips for young professionals starting their careers:
Phu Nguyen FCPA’s tips:
- Embrace change and openly welcome challenges in the workplace.
- Be willing to fail and learn from your mistakes – some of my greatest learnings have come from my failings
- Build your own personal brand in the workplace and have confidence in forming your own views and judgements.
- Build personal resilience and pursue your career goals with tenacity and vigour.