Our leadership team
Protea Financial employs a team of more than 35 professionals. Its leadership team includes:
Zane Stevens is a Director of Protea Financial. Prior to joining Protea, he was Financial Manager at Syntell, and subsidiaries, in Cape Town, South Africa. Syntell is a leading blue-chip company with revenue in excess of $38m that provides cutting edge technology-based services for Road Safety, Traffic Management and Revenue Collection.
Before joining Syntell, Zane was a supervisor at KPMG in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, South Africa, where he led audit and financial and information technology advisory engagements.
Working with a broad host of clients, from owner-managed entities to large listed multinational companies, Zane obtained extensive experience in various sectors including automotive; public sector; food, drink, and consumer products; retail; healthcare and agriculture.
Zane is registered as a Chartered Accountant (South Africa) with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. He received an Honors Degree in Accounting from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where he also completed his undergraduate degree in Accounting.
Senior Account Manager
Ashley Kniffin is an Account Manager for Protea. Prior to joining Protea, she was a Cost Accountant for the Hess Collection Winery, and previous to that, she was a Vineyard & Property Partnerships Accountant for Cakebread Cellars. Since 2014, she has obtained extensive experience in the financial and accounting areas for the wine industry. She has been responsible for financial reporting and analysis, fixed assets, vineyard accounting, inventory, standard costing, budgeting, and system implementation.
Before gaining wine industry experience, Ashley was a Senior Associate at KPMG in Austin, Texas, where she led audit engagements. She primarily worked in the state & local government sector but also gained experience in financial services, real estate, and technology clients.
Ashley is a Certified Public Accountant. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Accounting and Master of Science Degree in Finance from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Senior Account Manager
Candice Stevens is a Senior Account Manager at Protea Financial. Her principal engagements entail establishing and overseeing financial systems and controls to support client onboarding and restructuring companies. Candice was previously acting as both Chief Financial Office for Protea and Third Leaf Partners, joining Protea permanently in July 2020 . Prior to joining Third Leaf and Protea, she was Financial Manager at Mulderbosch Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa, as well as two other South African winery investments of Terroir Capital. Mulderbosch is one of South Africa’s leading producers and global exporters of wine.
Before joining Mulderbosch, Candice was a supervisor at BDO Incorporated in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where she led audit and assurance engagements in a variety of industries including hospitality, construction, farming, retail, and transportation. She worked at Ernst & Young in Cape Town prior to this in the audit and assurance sector, as an assistant, progressing to a senior and supervisor.
Candice is registered as a Chartered Accountant (South Africa) with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. She received Post-Graduate Diplomas in Accounting and Management from the University of Cape Town, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Business Science with a major in law.
Senior Account Manager
Megan Nelms is a Senior Account Manager at Protea Financial. Prior to joining Protea, she was a Senior Manager at Allen Group, LLP where she led accounting and advisory engagements for numerous winery clients, as well as, assisted in the firm’s operations. Before joining Allen Group, Megan was an accountant at Siduri Wines.
Since 2012, she has obtained extensive winery accounting experience and has been responsible for financial reporting, fixed assets, inventory costing, budgeting, forecasting, system implementations, process improvements, and employee training.
Before entering the wine industry, Megan started her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an assurance associate in San Francisco. She also gained private accounting experience at Keegan & Coppin Co. and PF West.
Megan is a Certified Public Accountant. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Accounting and Wine Business Strategies from Sonoma State University
Brendan Lane is an Account Manager for Protea. Prior to joining Protea, he was a Senior Accountant at Realm Cellars where he managed the day-to-day accounting functions of the winery with a focus on AP, AR, fixed assets and inventory management.
Before entering the wine industry, Brendan started his career at Agile Fund Solutions as an Operations Associate before moving to an Assistant Controller role. At Agile, he provided CFO consulting and back-office services for Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds. He managed the monthly performance reports and investor allocations as well as assisting the year end audit and tax work in coordination with various service providers. Prior to his accounting career Brendan played basketball professionally in the top leagues in Japan and Germany.
Brendan received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from UCLA and a Master of Science in Applied Finance from Pepperdine University.
Jennifer Sahouria-Pangle is an Account Manager for Protea. Prior to joining Protea, she was a Commercial Finance Manager for the Americas, for Accolade Wines. Previous to that, she served as Assistant Controller for Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Finance Manager for MA Silva Corks, USA.
Since 2011, she has obtained extensive accounting and financial experience in the wine industry and been responsible for financial reporting/analysis, fixed assets, inventory, costing, budgeting, forecasting, implementing new process and procedures, compliance, system upgrades, and implementation, and training employees. Jennifer has held several supervisory roles in the wine industry, helping build strong teams within each organization.
Before entering the wine industry, Jennifer was a Cost Accountant at Petaluma Poultry, and prior to that for 11 years, she worked as a Bookkeeper for Hertz Equipment Rental’s 25 Bay Area locations. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Accounting from Sonoma State University.
Jose Portillo is an Account Manager for Protea. Prior to joining Protea, he was a Senior Accountant for Bounty Hunter Wines and Spirits in Napa. He has obtained extensive accounting and financial experience in the wine industry and been responsible for financial reporting/analysis, fixed assets, inventory, costing, budgeting, forecasting, implementing new process and procedures, compliance, system upgrades and implementation, and training employees.
Before entering the wine industry, Jose served as Inventory Control Accountant for Papyrus Retail Stores and as Accountant at Laborers Trust Funds of Northern California. He has been recognized for scaling teams while improving process and saving money. Jose has developed expertise in strategic planning, internal controls and operations with through his 10+ years of experience across high-growth companies in food and beverage, construction, medical insurance, and service industries.
As a US Marines veteran, Jose is a natural cross-functional leader and mentor, aspiring to consistently make a substantial impact on the bottom line. Jose received his Bachelor Degree in Accounting from University of Phoenix.
Wylie Warner is an Account manager for Protea. Prior to joining Protea, he was the controller for a dual state, multiple label winery, with nationwide distribution where he spent the last 7 years. The winery’s estate vineyard consisted of 25+ acres with several varietals. The winery included multiple production facilities with several direct-to-consumer point of sale locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Prior to the wine industry his work history includes 20+ years working at public accounting firms in Washington, Oregon and Alaska in the areas of assurance, tax, financial reporting and contract accountant of for-profit, non-profit and governmental entities. In addition, he has been employed by both the State of Washington and State of Alaska as an auditor and has served as an expert witness at trial.
Wylie is a Certified Public Accountant. He is currently a licensed CPA in the State of Washington. Prior to being licensed in Washington he was licensed in the State of Alaska. He received an Associate of Arts (Accounting and Finance) from Peninsula College and a Bachelors of Science from Montana State University-Bozeman.