It is a long way from Slurry, near Mahikeng, the capital city of North West Province, to the trendy Cape Quarter, home of SAFE’s head office. But it is a journey that Quentin Scott, Chief Financial Officer of the company, has made thanks to focus, hard work and dedication.
The journey began after he matriculated at Potchefstroom Boys High, when what he describes as “a general interest in commerce” lead Quentin to leave “the place of rocks” (Mahikeng) and head to Johannesburg.
There he enrolled at Wits (the University of the Witwatersrand) where he achieved his BCom, and later BCom Honours. But it was still not far enough. So, he headed to Cape Town where he studied for an MBA at the University of Cape Town. (UCT)
After university, Quentin joined a fruit exporting company (now a rival to SAFE) from where he was head hunted by SAFE to run the finance functions of the company. Given Quentin’s appetite for hard work, his role at SAFE expanded and it was not long before he was appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Today Quentin oversees far more than the ledgers. His role has grown to managing SAFE’s IT functions, overseeing Human Resources and active involvement in the legal and contractual aspects of the business. He also takes responsibility for the SAFE corporate brand SAFE – providing his marketing and sales colleagues Wibo van den Ende and Rutger van Wulfen the support that helps grow the company’s reputation and boosts sales via positive media coverage.
This has paid off in the positive response that SAFE is receiving in particularly European and far eastern markets.
“I am also determined to see SAFE contributing even further to the development of our people, the communities that neighbour our farms – and from which we draw farm staff – and, of course, our contribution to our industry,” says Quentin.
He has also been responsible for managing the team that has brought the cutting-edge software, Openbravo,to SAFE. Openbravo is aground-breaking solution, delivering the benefits of award winning cloud-based software to streamline fruit production, supply chain tracking and accounting at SAFE.
“I believe a successful company must remain current in terms of IT allowing for quicker adoption of disruptive or ground-breaking technologies easier and quicker, ” he says. According to Quentin, long before deciding on the IT best suited to your company, you need to consider the technology in terms of a defined, strategic goal.
“And only after that, consider the actual implementation.”
As far as the future of the company is concerned, in light of increased local and global competition, Quentin says, “Given our existing structures, technology and management, we are able to add additional volumes and business integrations at marginal costs. This makes us more efficient and profitable.
With honesty and integrity high on his list of priorities, Quentin sees the bruising the accounting profession has taken in South Africa recently as a lessonfor all professional bodies, professionals or aspiring professionals.
His advice to aspiring CFO’s is to “understand the context within which you operate and make decisions as if they will be publicly scrutinised”.
“Studying accounting and finance is always a good base for any employment. However, future career opportunities may not be in traditional positions as technology is constantly changing the roles we play in business.”
But life is not only business strategies, spreadsheets and IT for Quentin, who has travelled the world.
“I love the Americas and particularly Mexico and Peru,” he says. “Any natural wonder is worth visiting and they are generally more memorable.”
And if he were marooned on a desert island and allowed only one indulgence: Quentin says he would elect to have the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) at his side. “He does not stay marooned for very long” says Quentin, whose own career has taken him about as far from “the place of stones” as he will ever be.