Joss Kent, CEO, AndBeyond, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

 

When and why did you join the industry?

Luckily I was born into it, as my father and grandfather were the founders of Abercrombie & Kent and I grew up surrounded by the excitement and dynamism that came with the expansion and growth of the company.

What do you like most about your job?

I feel I have a chance on a daily basis to make a difference in people’s lives through the travel experiences I can give them. It is also a real privilege to work with such passionate people in &Beyond. In that way it goes beyond (excuse the pun!) being a job.

What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?

Guiding and helping lead AndBeyond out of the deep recession and to a place where I feel the company and its people are ready to achieve their full potential has been incredibly tough, but equally rewarding.

What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?

“ Joss, as a leader remember… a fish stinketh from the head” (Ace Greenberg, Chairman & CEO of Bear Stearns, where I worked as a corporate finance analyst). What he meant was that a fish rots from the head first, and any company will take the lead from the CEO and the executive team in terms of their behavior, ethics and values. Get it right in the boardroom and the rest will take care of itself. How right he is, and post his departure from Bear Stearns, it’s demise under his successors is a valedictory example of failure that proves his own motto.

Who do you admire and see as a role model in the travel and / or hospitality industry?

Elon Musk.  What he is doing for Space Travel (Space X) and the transformation of the electric car industry (Tesla) – by default, the impact that twill eventually have on the way we all travel, is huge. He is enlightened, bold and daring. 

What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from its competitors?

Guests and clients consistently tell me that it is our people and our guides that really make us different. We believe passionately in our conservation and community heritage which we call Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. It informs many of the decisions we make and is an essential part of our DNA. We run three of our own guide schools, and I strongly believe in the power of guiding. Like a great teacher, an amazing guide can indeed change someone’s life through their ‘teaching’. And our ability to provide not only world class lodges, lodge management teams and guides, but also fantastic travel services that mean we can create bespoke travel plans around our lodges does make us quite different.

What destinations are on your travel bucket list?

Cartagena in Colombia, the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang and Sri Lanka. The list is much longer than that, but with three children and not much time to travel, if I could tick off just one of those I would be happy!

What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?

Travelling overland (by Land Rover) from London to Nairobi in 1998. It took 3 months and we traversed through Europe, Turkey, Syria (Western Desert, Aleppo, Homs… unbelievable to think what has happened to this wonderful country since then), Jordan, Sinai Desert, Saudi Arabia, an incredible desert safari across the Empty Quarter in Yemen, and on through the Hadramut Valley to Aden, Djibouti ( spending time in a French Foreign Legion R&R camp) and on through Sudan into Ethiopia (in search of the promised Rastafarian promised land of Shashamane, which turned out to be a depressing dustbowl of nothingness!). Finally we made it to Laikipia in Kenya in time for Christmas. An epic journey, and experiences you could not buy with all the money in the world.

What are three things you always take with you when travelling?

  1. Kenyan ‘kikoi’ which you can sleep in, use as a towel, headrest in bumpy vehicle, swaddle a child in or use as a tablecloth. Ingenious!
  2. Earplugs for aircraft big and small, noisy buses, hotels where I got location/room wrong and it feels like you are sleeping next to an industrial turbine.
  3. Ipad – the mother of all inventions… work/play/creative/ communicate with family etc

Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them

Morgan Freeman on safari in Tanzania in amongst the Great Migration at AndBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas, or even better, as per my comments above – put Elon Musk onto the same Land Cruiser with Morgan Freeman… now that would be interesting!

 

Source = AndBeyond: Joss Kent
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