Caroline Sculley or ‘Cah’ as she is known to her colleagues and clients is the Chief Operations Officer at DNKA Inc, a firm of accountants and auditors based in Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal.
DNKA is a full-service firm offering services from bookkeeping to audits and everything in between. Caroline’s role is about ensuring that the clients of DNKA receive a high-quality service, while meeting all compliance and statutory requirements. The firm looks after over 300 small and medium sizes business – mainly in KwaZulu-Natal – empowering them with the financial information to run and develop their businesses.
Uniquely, Caroline is a non-accountant managing an accounting practice. She draws on her experiences of working with private and public clients in the United Kingdom and South Africa to provide solutions for DNKA’s diverse client base.
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
Since joining DNKA, the firm has tripled its staff complement and registered as a SAICA training office. Caroline explains the benefits: “This is allowing us to create our own CAs and AGAs of the future and expose them to diverse small and medium-sized clients, and wider consulting services beyond assurance. Our team really has grown from strength to strength, and this has allowed us to offer our clients more services, specialisms, and support.”
Before Caroline joined DNKA, she was a fulltime international volunteer at WhizzKids United based in Edendale just outside of Pietermaritzburg where she contributed to the management and running of the NGO for two years. Her initial role there was to set up an employability programme for young matric leavers, who live in a community devastated by HIV. Caroline commented, “I am really proud of what was achieved by the young people in that programme, their success is our success.”
In addition, she has spent time as a volunteer in the United Kingdom for CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association) where she assisted with their annual residential camps for young people living with HIV.
IT TAKES A TEAM
Caroline explained that her career has been motivated by her parents who both worked very hard to be where they are today. She added that her parents had always instilled in her the importance of pursuing your goals but also doing everything in a fair and considerate way. “In everything that I do, I try to empower or motivate those around me, and this helps those around me to do the same for me. It really does take a team – in both business and personal life to succeed and I am very proud to be part of my teams,” she commented.
One of her biggest challenges has been moving to South Africa and having to navigate a different social and business environment to the UK. She explained, “Moving to a new place on the other side of the world with no support network is hard. Having to be able to adapt and work with people with diverse backgrounds compared to my own took an adjustment. But asking questions, being respectful and empathic can really take you a long way. I also had fantastic support from the other members of the DNKA management team, Nasser and Sthembiso who helped me navigate the new environment.” She explained further, “My team at DNKA are my motivation, I want to create opportunities and growth for them so that they can meet their goals.”
Speaking of other challenges, Caroline added, “I have at times doubted my role as a non-accountant in an accounting world, but through seeing the success of our work, and the growth of our practice and clients – I am now very confident that I make a valuable contribution to this industry. Our practice is more than accounting and numbers, it is all about growing businesses and I am a businesswoman, in the business world. This is where I am meant to be.”
Caroline is really excited to continue to grow DNKA and would also like to enroll for an MBA in the next 12-24 months. At home, she wants to raise her three daughters to be strong, empathic, and passionate people who can pursue their happiness.
Caroline would advise young women to “embrace every experience and opportunity”. She added, “At school, university and beyond I have tried to say ‘Yes’ as much as possible, and this has led to travel, odd part time jobs, conferences, and meetings. All these experiences, as random as they may have been, have added to the richness and diversity of my experiences.”
For example, she says if she hadn’t answered an advert in a United Kingdom newspaper for holiday camp volunteers, she wouldn’t have worked with CHIVA in the United Kingdom. This experience led her to Whizzkids United in South Africa, which in turn led her to meeting her husband and setting up a life here in KwaZulu-Natal.
Caroline is married to Julian and is the mother to a toddler – Penelope aged three, and two teenage stepdaughters (Melissa 15, Alex 12). Caroline was supposed to be in SA for six months but met Julian and the rest is history. As a family, they love to go away for weekends spent camping, and she also loves to get stuck in to DIY home and craft projects.