Most accountants, financial controllers are . . . well, I guess we don’t like to make assumptions. But Optus Stadium’s Financial Controller Jess Godwin breaks any stereotypical assumptions you may have about accountants. She dances, she loves live music and rugby union and owns an outstanding shoe collection. She also took control of Optus Stadium’s purse strings for two months in between Finance GMs and received rave reviews, not for the first time in her career.
Jess, how did you end up at Optus Stadium?
I started out in audit, which I hated but had an amazing manager to learn from. Then I moved to the Western Force and it sparked the passion for working in sport. After that I went to Programmed whilst finishing my CA and then moved to Domain Stadium. Being in sports and events definitely makes accounting and finance much more interesting.
Your passions are rugby union and dancing?
I was always an AFL girl, but then when I went to the Western Force, I fell in love with rugby. Lots of my friends still work or play and I’m a massive Wallabies fan. I was devastated when the Force were axed from Super Rugby even though I wasn’t there. Seeing some really close friends go through such a hard time was tough, but it’s great to see Twiggy Forrest trying to get a great club back on its feet.
… and dancing?
I’ve danced all my life, my mum was a dancer and owned a dance school. I did jazz, tap, ballet when I was young but now mainly hip hop. I used to be in a girl group – Nylon. We used to do different gigs around Perth and we did some pretty cool stuff. We supported TLC, Ciara, Samantha Jade and did a few music festivals like Future Music and Summerdayze. I teach hip hop and try get to class a couple of times a week to get away from spreadsheets.
Was it ever a career option?
When I left high school, I had two years where I travelled to Melbourne, Sydney, New York, L.A. to dance as much as I could. A lot of my friends and my sister did the same, but the artist grind wasn’t really for me. I decided to come back and go to Uni. My sister Gemma is still a dancer and a stunt woman, living on the Gold Coast.
From dancing to accountancy?
I was always good with numbers, so it made sense.
So what is your favourite musical?
I go to every single musical in town, every show, Chicago is probably my all-time favourite. I loved the Lion King, I saw that on Broadway.
A rather personal question, in this day and age, how tricky is it meeting, dating and eventually marrying someone you work with?
David and I did keep it a secret from my boss and our CEO, but they eventually found out. All the (Western Force) players found out, which was kind of like having gossiping high school children around. We kept it secret for about six months. But it was fine. Then we happened to work together at Optus Stadium. We were always in different departments so it wasn’t really a big deal for us.
You’re the poster child for successful workplace relationships!
Ha! It worked out great for us, but I can see that it sometimes doesn’t. We’re married now (December 2019). We were actually meant to go to Coachella (Music Festival) for our honeymoon but it got COVID cancelled.
Favourite ever concert?
My favourite band is Gang of Youths. They recently played Fremantle Arts Centre, which I loved. On the flipside, I love Beyonce, I saw her Perth Arena show. Beyonce/Jay-Z or Travis Scott would be my bucket list acts for Optus Stadium.
Back to work, how did you enjoy leading the Finance team for two months before Lou Charlet arrived?
COVID certainly made it an eye opener! It was great to sit with the Executive team and understand their decision making process. I have a lot of respect for them all. I also have a very strong team, a close team, which helped me through but it’s great to have Lou on board.
Is there a dream finance job?
I would love to manage contracts and salary cap at an NBA, NFL, or MLB team. That would be my ultimate dream job.
And finally shoes, I understand you have a reasonable collection?
It’s sizeable . . . I don’t have as many pairs as my husband. He has his sneaker collection, I have my heel collection . . . maybe 60 pairs. Fashion is important to me but I actually don’t really enjoy shopping, lots of impulse buying.