Ann Scott is a numbers woman. An accountant thrust into the public domain when she was appointed managing director, Ann is noted for her straightforwardness.
It is she who will bring up the elephant in a room and stop an idea in its tracks before time and money is wasted on it.
Ann started her career, fresh from A-Levels, at BT, where she won a scholarship to go to university and do business studies. She won the only non-engineering scholarship of the year, which taught her to believe in herself, she said.
Coupled with an unfailing sense of duty and hard work, she got her professional qualification as a chartered management accountant herself, by correspondence, around her work.
A baptism of fire at a very aggressive sales organisation selling office equipment taught her where to focus, before she left the business to have her daughter, so as not to hamper the company by taking maternity leave.
Following finance roles at incinerator company White Rose Environmental and Keyland, part of Kelda, she was appointed to S Harrison in 2001, initially working in its construction division before it was sold off in 2007.
“It was always where the risk was, but not where the profit was,” she said.
“Development is a very different business. It’s much more creative. Every transaction is different because you’re looking at bespoke building needs, different financing, quality and timing issues.
“I’m not from a property background and in a way that’s a nice position to be in. I’m not afraid to ask questions. People should ask more questions. I like to get involved and understand things from the ground up,” she said.
Now Ann said she intends to grow the business sustainably, doubling in size every five to six years, which she says is achievable.
“We have a small team here who are very committed, everyone feels personally involved and responsible for delivering and we’re trying to keep that feeling as the business grows so everybody feels part of it. It can be done.”
She said as well as doing more of their existing work, they will look at expanding the types of work they do, for example bolting facilities management onto its student accommodation offering.
What job would you have other than your own?
I'd be a barrister – for the intellectual challenge, piecing parts of a puzzle together.
Sponsorship through university – If I had known there was only one place, I wouldn’t have applied. It gave me confidence to do other things.
Twelve years ago, I had the opportunity to buy a business in a management buy-in. I didn’t think it was sustainable, and still don’t, but three years later it was bought by an American company and I could have made a lot of money.
What makes you most angry?
People who blame someone else for their mistakes.
What do you need to make life complete?
For my daughter to blossom and be happy.
Why do you make a difference?
I focus people on the things that matter.
I worked hard and achieved what I could.