August is definitely a time for celebration. Not only are we at the height of an incredible whale-watching season, but also National Women’s Month is in full swing, and whilst there are without doubt many stellar men in our midst, I am going to use this occasion to honour all the rock-star women in the Ocean Odyssey team. The collective talents of these passionate local women – across all levels of this multi-faceted business – have been instrumental in making Ocean Odyssey the successful tourism venture that it is today.
Ocean Odyssey is owned by spunky local businesswoman Evelyn Pepler, who has her finger bang-on the pulse of Knysna’s tourism industry. A key player in South Africa’s dynamic whale-watching industry, Evelyn works tirelessly with her team to effectively showcase the web of marine life that can be found along our coastline in a manner that is both ethical and ecologically sustainable. “I am passionate about our Knysna coastline and I love being able to share its wonders with visitors from around the world.”
One of the stalwarts of the company is multi-skilled Jorika Brink. She recently became mom to Willem, the most precious blue-eyed boy. Ocean Odyssey strives to foster an environment that is empowering to woman and understands the challenges faced by working mothers, so they have been open to Jorika bringing little Willem to the office now and again so they can be together. “I love working for Ocean Odyssey”, Jorika exclaimed, “because we all share the same passion – marine life and our beautiful coastline.”
Lucy Van Eyk (Evelyn’s big sister) is the astute mind behind the company’s finances, but she is also always ready to meet and greet the guests on arrival and her warmth and charm is a genuine asset to the company. She strongly believes that by working as a team one can achieve great success.
Lovely Leandre Christoffels , our front office co-ordinator, is always friendly and has the knack of remaining super-duper chilled even at the busiest of times. “I take each day as an adventure, Leandre says, “whether I am out on a boat trip or in front of my computer. I like meeting new nationalities and seeing happy faces after a good trip.”
New to the team is Evelyn’s little sister Theresa Da Mata, who posseses the same feisty spirit as her sisters. “Working with this amazing team is always a pleasure! There is never a dull moment and no two days are the same!”
Rose Bilbrough (fondly known as Travel Bug Rose) is one of SA’s leading Social Media influencer’s and she totally rocks at sharing the awesome highlights of Ocean Odyssey’s journey across digital several media platforms. “As a Social Media Marketer and a person that is passionate about nature and the environment”, says Rose, “ being part of the Ocean Odyssey team is not only an honour but a great privilege. To be able to share what you love with the world and be part of a dynamic team of Ocean Optimism is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
And then there’s me, Lisa Leslie. I have been involved with Ocean Odyssey for several years now and the experience has really served to fortify my fierce marine conservation stance. As a conservation photographer and blogger, I spend a lot of time not only capturing the magic of Knysna’s marine environment, but also highlighting important conservation issues. Sometimes the team has to remind me to lighten up, because I tend to get very serious when it comes to issues about ocean health, particularly on the topic of single use plastic!
To each and every one of the wonderful woman at Ocean Odyssey – thanks for being YOU!!