CASBO Career Chronicles: Vincent Christakos Edition
Retired Assistant Superintendent
Past CASBO President
Vincent Christakos is a retired school business official living in Redlands, California. With over 25 years in the association, some might say he’s a CASBO legend.
“I always tell people: CASBO is the way up in school business."
In an interview with Vincent, he reveals the secret to a fulfilling career in school business and more.
Question: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Answer: I grew up on the East Coast — born in Maine but lived on Long Island. My dad was a ship captain. He attended Maine Maritime Academy and was one of the first ever to graduate the academy in 1942. Since he was always traveling in and out of the port, my brother and I would go down to see the ships. We even got the chance to board and steer one once. I was inspired to be just like him and attend the academy to become a merchant marine. Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify because I didn’t have 20/20 vision.
Q: By the time you graduated high school, where did you want to take your career?
A: I attended the University of Tampa in Florida to become an architect. Then while in college I changed my major to accounting.
Q: How did you end up in school business?
A: I won the draft lottery in 1970 and lost my student deferment because I took a semester off to earn money to go back to college. A friend of mine who just got out of the Navy recommended I join the new Army ROTC program at the University of Tampa. I was the first student to sign up — they even put my picture and name in the newspaper. Later, I completed my degree in accounting and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. I spent the next 15 years in the military until 1989 when I went to work as a controller for a fortune 250 paper manufacturing company and was quickly promoted to general manager of the Los Angeles plant. Five years later, the company was acquired and I was left looking for career number three at 42 years old. That’s when I found K-12 school business.
Q: Why did you get involved in CASBO?
A: During my first week on the job as a budget supervisor, my boss told me I needed to join CASBO. She insisted I become active in the association so I trusted it would help my career move forward. And it did just that. I learned so much about school business through CASBO workshops, being involved in the Financial Services Professional Council and ultimately teaching classes and presenting at state-wide conferences. I don't think I would have become a CBO if not for my connections made through CASBO.
Q: How have CASBO connections influenced your career trajectory?
A: It gave me a ton of opportunities to get visibility at a state and national level. I went to Washington, D.C., many times! I made connections that allowed me to pick up the phone and call someone and have a conversation that will truly influence the outcome.
Q: Has a fellow CASBO member ever helped you level up in your career?
A: Yes. The director of fiscal services at Redlands Unified School District called me one day to let me know the CBO position in her district was open. She asked me to apply! I know her from being on the Eastern Section's finance research and development committee [the precursor to the Financial Services Professional Council). I got the job!
Q: What are your career goals yet to achieve?
A: I’m retired and now have my own LLC to help K-12 education. It’s called VIP Leadership Services. I utilized the theme I used during my CASBO presidency and career: Vision, Integrity, Passion. Every organization needs these three things. With vision, people will have something to follow. With integrity, they respect and trust you. With passion, you give them the energy to get through the roadblocks and make things happen.
Q: What advice would you give to a brand new CASBO member?
A: I would give them the same advice I was given 25 years ago. Get involved. If you join, become active in the association. That’s the key to making things happen. You get connected, you start to polish presentation skills, you gain public speaking opportunities and more. Very few people get to present in front of the Board of Education. With CASBO, you get that experience without all the big pressure. And even though I’m retired, I stay very involved with CASBO. Come say hello!