Scott Pharoah made his debut to the property industry in 2015, by acquiring the Hyde Park Licence for Engel & Völkers in South Africa; he then expanded his portfolio to Houghton, Bedfordview and Midrand. This was just the start of more exciting things to come, as Scott just recently acquired the Sandton licence area. His network of property shops now covers a vast area in Johannesburg. Chantalle Bell, Feature writer for Engel & Völkers Southern Africa sat down with Scott to find out who he is when not investing in the real estate sector, what makes him tick and where he plans on heading from here on out…
Those of you who have met Scott will agree that you can’t help but notice his passion and love for all that he does. The exuberant, enthusiastic, positive energy he has for being part of an International Real Estate brand, and the JHB city life is definitely infectious. He noted that he has seen the ins and outs of Johannesburg, and is yet to come across an area that he doesn’t like. “I can truly say that I love Johannesburg – every single corner”.
We started at the beginning and gained a peek into his younger years. Scott grew up in Limpopo in the small town called Duiwelskloof, at that time it only had a population of 2 000people. He then moved to the big city, Johannesburg, to pursue his studies where he also managed to land his first job in sales, which he did whilst completing his studies. The vibe of the city became part of his blood, and he has now been living here for the past 27 years.
Scott says his passion lies in his family and his faith. He is very blessed to be able to have grown up with rock solid role models in both his parents and grandparents, and this played a big role in the success he has today. He now lives in Atholl, Sandton with his stunning wife of 14 years, and their 4 children aged 2, 5, 6 and 7, equally divided between 2 boys and 2 girls which keeps them quite busy most of the time, not leaving much time for ‘hobbies’. “I do believe that a hobby is just something which you enjoy, and I love any time which I can spend with my family. We have a rule of taking 2 dedicated holidays a year, where we completely go off-grid and quality family time is the agenda of the day. In today’s busy life, I think we tend to allow technology and work to distract us without us even noticing, and we sometimes just need to take a step back and focus on what is most important.
I recently returned from our 2 week break at our holiday home in Mpumalanga and it has re-energized me completely, ready to get all the new ventures going – so even if one does not always have the time, I do believe you need to make time”. You also need something to take your mind off work when you cannot be on holiday, and during weekends they spend their time relaxing and unwinding at various restaurants in JHB where they love the energy of the city. Scott highly recommends taking a family trip to 44 Stanley, Salvation Café, The Parks, Vovo Tello and New Town JHB to name a few. It is clear that his childhood dream of becoming a restaurateur is not completely dead – the passion is still alive and being lived.
When asked whether he thinks that property is a good investment – Scott simply smiled with a bit of a frown, almost as to politely say, ‘I own 5 real estate licences – of course it’s a fantastic idea’. He says that in his opinion, next to gold, property is the investment that appreciates the most. After moving out of his parents’ home to Johannesburg, the first property he lived in was a room he rented above a double garage from an elderly couple. After he had a bit of capital built up, he proceeded to obtain his first property in 1997, which was a 2 bedroomed apartment for just R350 000 and it all just grew from there.
Scott noted that he can’t tell us where his dream home would be, as he is already living in it – in the heart of Atholl, although his ideal holiday home would be on the West Coast in Church Haven, Langebaan. He did however quickly answer our question with regards to his favourite room in the house without any hesitation or thinking – “It is definitely the playroom – it is our family’s heart. In this room anything goes. Although I do believe in discipline, I also believe that we all need a space to let our hair down – and this is what our kid’s playroom represents. It is a room where there are no rules - toys and crayons lying around… fabulous, organised chaos.
The biggest risk which Scott ever took was leaving formal employment and taking the risk of opening his own business in 2004, this risk has turned out to be the biggest reward! He has since then only continued to expand his business portfolio with the addition of his first E&V shop in 2015.
Scott was introduced to the Engel& Völkers brand by way of visibility in his area, which led him to approach the Engel & Völkers Bryanston shop to assist with the marketing and selling of his property. Needless to say, this resulted in a successful sale and he was very happy with the service received.
The brand stuck with him, and when it came to the decision to expand his business interests to the real estate industry, Engel & Völkers was his next logical step as he loved the brand awareness, the shop concept and the exclusivity. He joined Engel & Völkers as the brand epitomises luxury, professionalism which translates into success. The brand also offers phenomenal systems, classic corporate governance and is truly an international brand.
He believes that the secret to owning a successful business is running a sales team, in a service industry that needs to revolve around good, solid and honest leadership of your staff. Promoting staff and being empathetic to both the buyer and sellers is the philosophy. At the coal face, agents need to be sensitive and understanding to the needs and wants of their clients. “In business, I view staff and clients equally as my responsibility to nurture”.
Any industry has its rewards and challenges, and we wanted to know what his experience has been on this front. Scott says the most gratifying side of real estate is the thrill of fulfilling people’s dreams and ambitions of being property owners. “You get to re-live the excitement of becoming a property owner. Think back on the day when you bought your first or last home, and that moment when you were handed the keys – it is hard to explain the feeling, but I am sure that all property owners will be able to relate”. On the opposite side he also shared his most challenging aspect, which he noted to be maintaining motivation levels of staff in incredibly tough economic times. He added a bit of advice to newcomers to the industry and that is to never let up on their dreams despite the adversities.
The future according to Scott
We all have goals and targets of what we would like to achieve, and Scott is no different. In fact he has already marked out the timeline and is on track to achieve all of his set goals.
Scott is busy getting his Johannesburg office set up as a MMC (Metropolitan Market Centre) in order to get it recognised as an official MMC by Germany. “The ultimate goal is to be Africa’s ‘Manhattan office’, the first of its kind on the continent. It is not a matter of if it will happen; it’s simply a matter of when”.
As we mentioned earlier, they are indeed on track with their plans and we wanted to know what exactly has been happening and what they have been busy with. Between his 5 shops, he will have a team leader for each area, which is assisted by admin staff to support the team in reaching their success. They are currently looking for managers to head up these positions as Scott is looking for exceptional individuals who will share his dream of where the company needs to be. “I believe one needs to utilise any opportunity to its max, so I am embracing this feature, by inviting anyone who reads this article, and feels as passionate about the industry and growth as I do, to contact me about filling one of these positions”.
We almost need an organigram to keep track of the empire which Scott is busy setting up, but we have tried to keep up. Starting at the top, Scott is hands-on involved in the business, but believes in having a strong team who can run with things. For this specific task, he has appointed Debbie Robertson as Operations Manager of the entire group. Debbie is more than qualified for the position. Her career in E&V has grown immensely over the years, starting off as an intern agent; she used the expertise she had acquired over the years to grow into the Team Leader position at the Engel & Völkers Midrand office. In just a short time another opportunity came across her path, and she is now the Operations Manager for all 5 of the shops.
Debbie will be overseeing all 5 team leaders mentioned above, as well as the sub-divisions which are already in place. These include dedicated teams to service all areas of the industry and company. “We have a legal division headed up by Kiki Smith, our in-house attorney who will oversee all the contracts, together with her legal apprentices. Next will be our HR Manager to look after our staff and their needs (we are currently also looking for the right candidate –applications are welcome). Our finance department is overseen by Brendan Pharoah and our in-house marketing by Robert Ogall who looks after the social media, branding and events side.
Scott’s vision is to gain a sizeable and dominant market share in all of their areas in the next year, and whilst he understand this will take time, their teams are driven and pushing towards exclusive listings and gaining market share on a daily basis. With their support staff structure they have in place, there is no doubt that anyone will be able to make a success of their career in real estate, and Scott & Debbie invite candidates for a cup of coffee to see their offering in real time.
If you share Scott’s passion and vision, feel free to make contact and meet him yourself and chat about the opportunities available – or even if you simply feel you would like to meet this ball of energy in person – life is full of possibilities…