This article is the third in a series on ‘Real Life Careers’ in which we chat to people about their career and look at the (sometimes unexpected) paths they took to get there. We chatted with Scott Dixon (32) who is a Chartered Accountant and works as a General Manager at Technobolt (Pty) Ltd. He holds a Bcompt Honours – UNISA – CA(SA).
Scott answered some questions about his experiences in high school and how they impacted his varsity and career choices.
A: English, Afrikaans, Maths, Additional Maths, Biology, Physical Science and Accountancy
A: Biology and Additional Maths
A: Yes – Additional Maths taught me to push myself out my comfort zone and forced me to work really hard at something and not give up, as it was a challenging subject for me. During my degree, I experienced challenges and faced subjects and problems that really pushed me and tested my resolve but I stuck at it even if I didn’t get it right the first time. I ensured that I passed even if it was at the second or even third attempt.
A: The ability to interact with people from all walks of life and the ability to look at different ways of tackling problems. A major skill that I learned at school but that I tended to forget as I moved through my varsity career was to ask questions and ask for help. It may sound like a silly concept but hear me out. Your teachers and lecturers are highly educated people who have a fantastic knowledge of the subject that they are teaching you.
If you don’t understand a concept then your ability to ask questions and for help in order to understand will be the difference between a very average mark, or passing really well and enjoying the subject.
For me as I got older I felt like I didn’t need the help and could do everything myself – I was too proud to admit that I was struggling with a concept and it cost me. This ability to ask questions and in a sense be slightly vulnerable comes through in all spheres of life as you get older – relationships, business, sport, friends etc and as I get older I realise the power of asking for help!! A simple concept but it can make the world of difference.
A: I have no regrets from my school days – I really enjoyed being at a school as it was a time when I got involved in everything that I could – whether it be from the academic side, after school courses (like Toast Masters) or school sports.
At school you had the time and opportunity to do all these things and you really have to make the most of them.
A: Yes – I am a qualified CA(SA) although I now work in the commerce/business world. I was well aware of the career path while at school.
There are a few general considerations to be made when leaving school and heading into varsity. In this section, Scott reflects upon his choices and his path through his degree(s).
A: No – went straight into University but did make sure that I capitalised on the long holidays and spent 3 months working at a ski resort in the USA after my second year but returned in time to start third year.
A: Yes, I was privileged enough to have decent marks from school and enough points to get into the course that I wanted to study.
A: The fact that it offered endless opportunities in the commerce and work world. Once I had my qualification it enabled me to look for potential job opportunities in a variety of different fields so I was not limited to one particular industry or type of work. The professional qualification I now have is recognised at an international level so should I wish to pursue opportunities outside of South Africa I would be able to…Not that I want to because South Africa has endless opportunity and is great!!
A: In a way but not 100%. It certainly helped me get my foot in the door but I now do a lot more work that I would never have thought I would that is unrelated to my degree.
A: Not postgraduate studies at a university but I have written the SAICA professional exams (ITC and APC) that allowed me to qualify as a CA(SA). I would definitely suggest that you pursue studies throughout your life.
Lifelong learning is fantastic so yes I would suggest postgrad study.
Scott now answers some questions that are specific to his current career. This gives us insight into some of the realities of being a CA(SA) and his specialisation.
A:. Not at present.
A: On a basic level Technobolt is a company that manufactures steel roof bolts that are used in the mining industry to support the roof of the mine and prevent them from collapsing. My job involves many things and it changes each day which keeps it very interesting. I am involved in all spheres of the business from ordering the raw material, planning the day to day production, liaising with the factory on any issues that come up whether it be maintenance, purchasing of new machinery and tooling, and labour issues etc.
I then do the costings of all the products and ensure that the quotes we send out to potential customers are all priced correctly. I am then in daily conversations with the owners of the company around general strategy, marketing and new sales areas that we can pursue and have even been involved in the patenting process of a new product that we developed in conjunction with our patent attorneys. I have direct contact with our customers – both locally and internationally and I also travel and meet them to maintain our relationships with them and plan with them to ensure we make the best decisions for the company going forward.
I am currently based in Durban but travel regularly to Johannesburg as this is where our production facility is based and I have also had some international travel opportunities to meet with our overseas customers.
I monitor the profits and losses of the business on a daily basis from our various reports. As we sell overseas in a foreign currency we keep a very close eye on the exchange rate as this has both positive and negative consequences on our results.
As you will see although I have a CA (SA) very little of my time in a day is spent doing the pure accounting work, but that fact that I have an understanding of the numbers and what they tell us is a big plus and helps me to understand and make better decisions for the business as a whole.
A: The effort needed to get to the end goal is immense but once you are there your potential as a future employee, employer and person are endless.
Keep an eye out for the next post in our ‘Real Life Careers’ series.
I have watched the development of AL.com for years and marveled at the ingenuity and passion shown from the start. As a Linguistics major, university lecturer and burgeoning copywriter, the Advantage Learn story is one close to my heart. I hope to add to the development of educational thinking in South Africa by helping to relate topics and create spaces for thought on the challenges and opportunities facing South African learners, students, and parents.
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