With close to a decade of financial management experience in a variety of health-related organisations, Scott Bryant is well-placed to support GPTQ’s administration, medical educators and registrars. “My experience working with not-for-profit entities has always been really positive. Working in health, in particular, is extremely inspiring, as so many people are fully committed to what they do. It’s great to be around.”
A well-travelled family
Scott Bryant was born in Sydney but thanks to his father’s army job, he traversed across state lines a number of times early in life. “We moved to Toowoomba when I was very young, and then when I was about six, we went down to Canberra and stayed until I was about 14. Then it was back to Toowoomba again,” Scott explains. “After I finished schooling, I settled in Brisbane and have been here with my family ever since.”
From cooking to finance
While Scott is now firmly entrenched in the finance field, his first career choice was the polar opposite, working as a professional chef for almost 17 years. “We had friends who owned a restaurant and when it came time to do my high school work experience, I thought ‘I’ll see what it’s like to be a cook’. After that, they kept me on as a kitchen hand. When I finished Grade 12, I had the option of going to university but they offered me an apprenticeship, so I stayed,” he says.
Scott thrived as a chef, working at two highly awarded Brisbane restaurants. “We won Gourmet Traveller magazine’s Queensland Restaurant of the Year multiple times. But I also knew I didn’t want to be slinging out steaks on a Friday night for the rest of my life,” he says.
He then took some time to review his career options and decided to head back to university, but the biggest decision centred on what he wanted to study. “I’d always enjoyed doing the accounts at the restaurants, so settled on a business degree with a focus on accounting. Then a job at Government House came up, cooking for the Governor of Queensland. I absolutely loved it, especially doing all the tricky stuff for state dinners and cocktail parties. But as it was mostly day work, I could then study part-time at night.” That is exactly what Scott did, gaining a Bachelor of Business with an extended major in Business Law and Tax at the Queensland University of Technology. Scott also did further studies in subsequent years, becoming a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and obtaining a designation with CPA Australia.
The merits of crunching the numbers
Scott says accounting is in some ways similar to medicine as it’s a broad field, so you can dabble widely to uncover what you prefer. “People may not realise that accounting is not all about making sure debits and credits match; you can actually do a lot of powerful analysis work. I enjoy unpicking things and looking beyond what the profit or loss might be. I like working out what factors influence the numbers, and what can be done to drive efficiency or improve service delivery,” he says.
Scott’s previous finance roles and rural experience
In over a decade in the finance area, Scott has held a number of executive positions across many health-related fields. He spent almost three years working with Queensland Health in their budget team ‘shifting money around between the Commonwealth and the state’, as well as producing budget papers and answering parliamentary questions. This all came at a time of immense change. “It was during the 2011 health reforms when Queensland Health moved from health districts to hospital and health services. It was a really busy time and by the end, I felt a bit jaded, so took up an opportunity to work at Mount Isa for a few months as a fill in for the finance manager,” he says. “It was the first time I’d worked in a hospital and it was a great experience, and a real eye opener to the challenges medical professionals face in rural and remote communities. One of the most interesting parts was seeing how the hospital service played such a central role within the community.”
After this small taste of working in a rural area, Scott was keen for more. He then decided to make the journey to Thursday Island, taking up a post as the Chief Financial Officer at the Torres-Strait-Northern Peninsula Hospital and Health service. “That was an incredible 12 months for me professionally as I helped the hospital regain some financial stability. It was also amazing to work with so many different clinicians who were viewed as leaders in the community,” he says.
Scott also enjoyed his time on a personal level, living with a local family and immersing himself in the culture. “I had some absolutely fantastic experiences. The hospital sits right on the water, directly across from Friday Island which has a pearl farm. One of my colleagues knew the pearl farmer so one lunchtime, he came across on his boat and picked me up. We boated over, had some lunch and I bought a Friday Island pearl for my wife as a Christmas present. It was probably the best lunch hour I’ve ever spent!” he laughs.
After his Thursday Island stint, Scott joined the Queensland Ambulance Service as their Chief Financial Officer. They had recently transitioned into the Department of Health, so he had to tread a fine line between helping them assimilate, and keep their identity. “It was fascinating to see another aspect of healthcare, and my time there led me to do some pro bono work with the Queensland Ambulance Service Legacy Scheme and the Emergency Medicine Foundation. I’d always been involved in our local community, coaching cricket and football for my boys, but once they grew up, I sought out another way to give back. So I decided to use my accounting, management and governance experience to help these important organisations,” Scott explains.
Taking on GPTQ’s Director of Finance and Operations role
Scott says his time in rural and remote communities sparked an interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and GPTQ’s strength in Indigenous Health training attracted him to the role. But it was more than that. “I’ve worked with many organisations going through a transition phase, and I understand the challenges, so that’s what drew me to this job,” he says.
“I think governance and strong leadership are the cornerstones of any organisation. With a not-for-profit, governance is paramount as we’re dealing with public money, so it’s imperative we spend it wisely. My role is to keep on top of that and get resources to where they’re needed, so our medical educators can work unimpeded.”
Although Scott has only been in the role a short time, he’s already had a chance to see firsthand the quality of GPTQ’s registrar training.
“I volunteered as a patient in an Indigenous Health workshop run by Danielle Arabena a few weeks ago. When you actually get to see the training process in person, and the dedication of our registrars to become fellows and then go out and help communities, you can’t help but be inspired. It’s precisely why working in health is so rewarding,” he says.