Being a guide-led business, it makes sense that &Beyond’s management and leadership teams are full of former guides. It may not be common knowledge to all, but even our CEO Joss Kent used to be a khaki-clad ranger.
His British military training aside, Joss often cites his time working as a professional guide throughout Africa as his most formative training. It was then that he realised he could change people’s lives through the experiences he gave them, a golden thread that runs throughout &Beyond today.
Today we take a #ThrowbackThursday look into the adventurous life of Joss Kent. A fond lover of the travel industry and the profound impact it can have on people’s lives, a devoted husband and father and forever restless for his next experience or challenge, Joss most certainly escaped the norm and actively chose to live a life of never-ending adventure and exploration. And through it all, he remains committed to making a meaningful difference to conservation and community development in the hopes that we can conserve our precious planet for future generations to enjoy.
Born and raised in Kenya and the former CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, Joss is also a Harvard MBA graduate, holds a private pilot’s license, speaks a bit of Spanish and is fluent in Kiswahili, windsurfs, kitesurfs, scuba dives, plays polo and held the rank of Lieutenant in the British Army in the same regiment as Prince Harry, the Blues & Royals.
Joss has guided and/or planned tailormade safaris for the likes of Bill Gates, Jimmy Carter, Kenny Rogers, Gene Hackman, Hilary Clinton, Lauren Hutton and the British Royal Family. One particular safari took Joss, basketball hero Michael Jordan and his family, along with 15 children from Chicago’s inner-city schools up to Kenya’s Masai Mara. Truly inspired by this cultural exchange, it is no surprise that Joss went on to become a Trustee of Africa Foundation, our community development partner. He remains committed to ensuring that &Beyond and Africa Foundation work hand in hand with the local African communities surrounding our reserves.
The most over-the-top safari that he crafted for his guests was a month-long adventure across Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire (now the DRC) and Burundi travelling in a World War II seaplane. The theme was ‘The Origins of Man’ and traced the evolution of humankind, connecting the dots between Olduvai Gorge, the mountain gorillas in Kahuzi Biega, chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains and ending up on the exclusive &Beyond Mnemba Island, landing gracefully on the water between the island and the Zanzibari mainland.
Clearly an adventure enthusiast and adrenaline junkie, Joss has travelled the world and then some. From canoeing in Zambia and watching the Great Migration in East Africa, to driving from London to Nairobi through the Middle East with a photo journalist. That particular adventure took two months and they crossed through Europe, Turkey, the Western Desert of Syria, Jordan, Egypt’s Sinai Desert, Yemen, Djibouti, Ethiopia and eventually Kenya. His one memory that stands out from the rest was having the rare privilege to visit Yemen and cross the deeply inhospitable Empty Quarter with the local Bedouin.
With a long list of die-hard, thrill-seeking adventures under his well-travelled belt, Joss prefers nowadays to take his wife and children on &Beyond safaris whenever he can. A firm believer of the importance of family travel and educating one’s children through authentic experiences with local cultures, wondrous wildlife and magnificent landscapes, Joss is an advocate of our &Beyond WILDchild programme, which aims to foster the next generation of conservationists.
Perhaps one of Joss’ favourite inspirational quotes, and one that he clearly lives authentically, is that of the classic author Mark Twain, which reads, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Adventuring and exploring are either born within you or you are born into them. Joss was lucky enough to have a strong exposure to both. An adventurer since birth, Joss continues to explore, investigate and learn. What’s next on his bucket list? Japan and Colombia … and we have a feeling he’ll tick them both off in no time.
While this no doubt may have triggered some serious CEO envy among some, we hope that it also inspires you to get out, explore and live a life of no regrets.