After finishing at Wesley College, Mr Ross Oakley OAM attended Monash University where he completed a Bachelor of Economics and later completed a Master of Business Administration at Melbourne University.
Following an extensive commercial career which included 12 years at BHP and managing companies including AAMI and Royal Insurance, Mr Oakley was appointed Chairman and CEO of the then troubled Victorian Football League in 1986.
Over the next decade, Mr Oakley oversaw one of the country’s greatest sports business transformations, steering the VFL’s transition from the edge of a precipice to become the Australian Football League, now the country’s preeminent and dominant sporting competition. He was tasked with not only expanding the competition to create a national competition, but to bring the business of football into modern times.
He recently released a book called The Phoenix Rises which describes the genesis of the AFL, drawing together both known and previously unknown personal and historic accounts and anecdotes from the people who played an integral part in footy’s most transformative time. The story details how the new independent commission which led, changed the way football decisions were made for the good of the game overall.
In 2008 Mr Oakley agreed to assist the Victorian Rugby Union to acquire the new Super Rugby licence on offer to Australia, and subsequently took on an appointment as CEO in the inaugural year of the Melbourne Rebels to assist their establishment in this new rugby market and he then remained as CEO of the Victorian Rugby Union Inc. until the end of 2013.
Mr Oakley was an AFL Player for St. Kilda Football Club between 1961 to 1967. He has also coached the Collegians Amateur Football Club and St Kevin’s Amateur Football Club. He was a Trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 1986 to 1996 and Chair of the Sports 2000 Task Force in 1999 and Chair of the State Training Board of Victoria from 1988 to 2001. He is currently a member of the Florey Institute Foundation and on the Advisory Board for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
Mr Oakley has received numerous honours and awards including in 2009 being recognised with induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and in 2013 received an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Mr Oakley and wife Christine have two children, Gregory and Melanie and two adorable grandchildren.