Meet the Founder | Sarina Russo

Meet the Founder Sarina Russo AM

For over 44 years Sarina Russo has been paving the way for women leaders and budding entrepreneurs. 

Her passion, persistence and self-belief have transformed her into the global powerhouse she is today. 

Sarina inspires people to believe in themselves, to go that extra mile and to become better versions of themselves. Sarina has been appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM)  for significant service to business, community, vocational education & training across Australia. Sarina’s contribution to the national and international business community has also been recognised with the awarding of an Honorary Doctor of Commerce by James Cook University.

Sarina Russo

From the beginning

The desire to help others has always been Sarina’s driving force. From tough times as a migrant child to one of Australia's leading entrepreneurs, Sarina has well and truly worked her way to the top. 

Her success was no accident. It took hard work, passion and perseverance. Three characteristics that best describe Sarina’s story.

As a legal secretary and a typing teacher, Sarina turned her negative situation into a positive one. She had a vision to help others and that’s just what she did. 

In 1979, Sarina opened a small typing school called 'The Office' Business Academy. A revolutionary school for young adults wanting to improve their business skills.  

However, Sarina wanted to offer more than just business skills. She wanted to ensure each, and every student graduated with a job. This goal would seem unattainable to most; but Sarina, driven with passion and unshakeable confidence, knew she could do it. And she did. Every student at ‘The Office’ Business Academy graduated with a job. Since then, her business has expanded and grown, and she has continued to achieve greatness.

Start-up to global enterprise

From a small typing school into a global $100 million business, Sarina has continued to strive for more and disrupt the status quo. Her story is a testament to the fact that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

1979: Sarina Russo establishes 'The Office' Business Academy focusing on secretarial training and introducing the business's most unrivalled point of difference - free job placement!

1988: Sarina Russo establishes ‘The Office’ International College offering English Language courses and Study Tour programs to international students.

1994: Sarina Russo moves operations into inner-city premises - The Sarina Russo Centre at 82 Ann Street. Sarina was the first female to privately own a Brisbane City high-rise building.   

1995: Sarina Russo establishes Russo Institute of Technology Australia to incorporate English, Business, Information Technology and Hotel & Tourism programs.

1998: Sarina Russo is awarded an Australian Government tender to own and operate 31 Job Network offices Australia wide, under the name Sarina Russo Job Access Australia.

2001: Sarina Russo moves the Sarina Russo Job Access Australia Head Office into newly purchased premises, Sarina Russo Plaza - 349 Queen Street.

2002: Sarina Russo purchases a third Brisbane City high-rise building, Sarina Russo River Centre - 100 Eagle Street, which become the national headquarters of Sarina Russo Group.

2002: Sarina Russo releases her autobiography, ‘Meet Me at the Top! The Sarina Russo Story’ and becomes a best-selling author.

2005: Sarina Russo announces the establishment of Sarina Russo Schools | Australia, incorporating Sarina Russo English | Australia; Russo College | Australia (Pathway to University programs); Russo School of Hotel and Tourism | Australia; Russo Institute | Australia, cementing its place as a leading English Language and Pathway to University provider.

2005: Sarina Russo English | Australia opens the Bridging English Entry Program (BEEP) as a direct entry English qualifying program to James Cook University Brisbane Bachelor and Master’s Degrees.

Helping others succeed

Sarina Russo is now the Founder and Managing Director of Australia's largest private provider of employment and apprenticeship services, operating from more than 200 global sites throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Vietnam and China.

She has helped over 100,000 people become job-ready and take control of their lives and achieve success. Sarina Russo is the name people trust to "get that job". 

Check out these statistics and see for yourself: 

Sarina Russo Job Access: Placed over 69,000 job seekers into work since 1 July 2015

Disability Employment Services: Supported over 8,000 people with a disability since 2006

New Enterprise Incentive Scheme: Since 2000, over 9,000 people have been coached and mentored to become their own boss - 80% were still in business after 3 years.

Sarina Russo Apprenticeships: Each year, over 35,000 apprenticeships, trainees and their employers are offered personalised advice and support

Sarina Russo Institute: Over 10,000 Australian and International students have studied in vocational education or English language courses. 

James Cook University Brisbane (JCUB): Since March 2006, over 7,500 students from 88 countries have studied foundation, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes.

Sarina Russo English: Thousands of international students have completed various English language courses.

Joblinx: Since 2008, Joblinx has helped thousands of students to gain work experience, vocational placement, paid part-time employment, graduate employment, as well as access to a diverse range of training programs.

Russo Business School: Since 2016, has educated 233 students from 16 countries in a Diploma of Business.  As a pathway provider to other Higher Education Degrees, our students continued their studies at James Cook University Brisbane Campus.

VOICE: Psychologists & Allied Professionals: Provides a wide range of assessments, interventions and training programs for people struggling to get back into the workforce.

Awards and Recognition

International Stage:
Australian Stage:

Australian Community / Board Positions 

  • Queensland Premier’s Business Advisory Council member
  • A member of the Education Council’s Review of Senior Secondary Pathways since 2019
  • Board of Directors at James Packer’s Challenger Financial Services (2006 – 2008)
  • Chairman and Trustee of the Jupiter’s Casino Community Benefit Fund (1995 – 2013)
  • Lord Mayor’s Community Trust Board (1995 – 2011)
  • Queensland Education and Training Export Board (2002 – 2010)
  • Queensland Tourism Board (2002 – 2009)
  • Council for Multicultural Australia Board (2005 – 2006)
  • Named a ‘Legend of Brisbane’ by Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.
  • A ‘Founding Queensland Employer’ for the Duke of Ed Employer Initiative.
  • Australiana Fund to raise funds to acquire and preserve a permanent collection of artworks that are Australian by origin or by association
  • Elected by the people of Queensland as the Australian Republic delegates to the Australian Constitution Convention
  • Original cast member of Channel Seven’s Dragons Den television show
  • Regular expert commentator on education, training and employment for international and national media outlets.
  • Host of ‘How to Get that Job’ television show for 20 years
  • Author of the best-selling business and motivational book – Meet Me at the Top!


  • Multicultural Achievers Award
  • Women in Business Award – Personal and Other Services Industry category 
  • Centenary Medal for distinguished service to education
  • Honorary Ambassador for the City of Brisbane since 1996
  • Q400’s Top Business and Personal Services Company Award
  • Recognised by EY as their ‘2018 Champion of Entrepreneurship (Northern Region)’ for sustained and outstanding entrepreneurial achievement
  • Awarded Honorary Doctor of Commerce by James Cook University
  • Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 


Sarina Russo Group acknowledges the First Nations Peoples of this Country, the traditional custodians connected to the land, water and community on which we live, work and help others to live their best lives. We also pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging, who strive to build a better and more sustainable future for future generations to come.