How do you define greatness? One simple word, yet it can mean so many different things to different people. Is it measured by success and status? Popularity? Wealth and belongings? How many ‘likes’ you get on Instagram? To us, it’s none of the above. Rather, it’s the care and empathy one exhibits day in and day out; the intrinsic way in which one pays it forward without expecting anything in return; and the dedication and perseverance one quietly displays while trying to make the world a better place for us all.
Here at &Beyond, we believe the following statements are a far more accurate measure of greatness:
“Greatness is not defined by what a person receives, but by what that person gives.”
“Greatness is a lot of small things done well every day.”
“Greatness is humility that doesn’t need to be noticed.”
We admire greatness, we are humbled by it, and every year, we reward it. A longstanding tradition close to our hearts, our annual &Beyond Bateleur Awards celebrate those staff within our company that instinctively and repeatedly go above and beyond the regular call of duty and who selflessly make a meaningful contribution to our core ethos of caring for the land, wildlife and people. Nominated by their peers, not managers, these &Beyonders are recognised as being true custodians of the &Beyond culture and their positive attitudes, behaviours and work ethic consistently reflect our brand and values.
Whether these &Beyonders have been with us for 25 days or 25 years, their greatness is natural and unforced. It is a quiet golden thread that is ever-present in their work and how they interact with others. This greatness does not go unnoticed and our annual Bateleur Awards recognise and celebrate the true &Beyond spirit that lies within each of these remarkable and worthy individuals.
Every quarter, regional winners are selected by their peers and at the end of the year, one overall winner is selected for each of the regions in which we operate. These seven regional winners are then flown from different corners of the world to Johannesburg for a week-long, well-deserved celebration where they compete for the grand title. For many &Beyonders, it is our favourite day of the year; a day for honouring the (often unsung) heroes among us. Respected and revered, each and every one of the &Beyond Bateleur Award winners, past, present and future, make all 2 000 of us feel #proudlyandbeyond.
As guardians of the &Beyond culture, these incredibly talented, selfless and hard-working finalists for 2017 all embody exactly what it is to be an &Beyonder and they truly deserve the recognition:
Meet the 2017 winner
After listening to the seven heartfelt nominations from each region, our CEO Joss Kent, the &Beyond executive team, and shareholders Patrick Maxwell and Alexander Getty, had the painstakingly difficult task of selecting our overall winner for 2017. Although the deliberations involved careful consideration and much debate, this was the first time all 18 executives agreed unanimously on the winner and we are truly proud and honoured to bestow this year’s title of &Beyond Bateleur Award Winner for 2017 on KD Gobogolelwe, one of the beloved and highly respected field guides for our &Beyond Botswana Expeditions.
With a heartfelt and most impressive motivation speech that spanned four very detailed pages and included many impromptu additions from &Beyond Regional Director for Southern Africa, Jason King, it is near impossible to summarise all of KD’s countless extraordinary accomplishments here. Suffice it to say that throughout the speech there was an audible air of surprise and utmost respect when we all heard the extensive list of just some of KD’s quiet achievements, academic endeavours and altruistic life of giving back, without hesitation, to those who need it.
A quiet (over)achiever that has never asked for anything in return, KD embodies our definition of greatness. A man of insurmountable kindness and humility, KD’s career at &Beyond spans more than a decade and he has touched the lives of thousands of people along the way.
Those that have been on an &Beyond mobile camping expedition will agree that it is a holistic experience. For our hard-working and steadfast expedition guides, the days are much longer and the workload and responsibilities far greater than those of a standard &Beyond guide. The role of an expeditions guide is that of field guide, host, camp manager and butler, all 24/7, and all wrapped into one. It is a demanding role that requires expansive knowledge, unwavering patience, warm local hospitality, excellent driving skills, strength of character and passion for the land, wildlife and people.
As one of our most senior guides in Botswana, KD consistently strives for excellence and his guest feedback scores certainly reflect his strong work ethic, having achieved a 99% average over the last 12 months. This is no mean feat and just goes to show what kind of a person KD is.
Perhaps the biggest takeout from the speech about KD was his lifelong motto of “keep learning, keep moving and keep sharing” and how it keeps him inspired and ever-challenged. With a fervent passion for learning and growing, KD is not only a father, pastor, qualified teacher and professional field guide, but he also holds an advanced diploma in Human Resource Management and recently completed his B.Comm thesis on the impact/effect of employee morale on Botswana’s tourism industry. A case study of &Beyond itself, KD’s comprehensive research will assist us in continuing to promote employee morale in the workplace, as well as refine our training strategies, employment practices and leadership development/recognition.
Equally dedicated to empowering his community, KD is both a pastor and the Regional Chairperson for the Botswana Council of Churches in Maun and regularly provides counselling to those in need. He also frequently visits primary schools, government departments and clinics to educate his community members about substance abuse in the hopes of influencing a behavioural change that will lead to a better quality of life for those suffering from addiction.
When the mines were closing in Botswana, the rising unemployment and increasing financial pressures caused the country’s suicide and prostitution rates to soar, which prompted KD to work closely with the government to advocate financial literacy. KD’s report on the findings of his in-depth research is currently being implemented by the government nationwide.
Every September, when the country of Botswana dedicates a full month of prayer to HIV and AIDS, KD voluntarily gives motivational talks to those living with the terminal disease, encouraging and teaching them how to live better and healthier lives. And every festive season, he accompanies a team from our &Beyond Maun office to deliver gifts and food, sing Christmas carols and spread some much-needed joy to the youngsters living at Motswe wa Tsholofelo, a centre that cares for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Clearly passionate about helping and educating others, KD has also been the key driver, for ten years, of the Conservation Lessons that we provide to schools in the communities that neighbour our reserves. KD volunteers happily to select the schools, liaise with the principals, facilitate the lessons and develop the learning materials, all in his own spare time.
I’ll end with a quote from one of KD’s colleagues: “Catching KD in the act of excellence is always easy. He has a calling to impact people positively and grow his influence, and we see that in a thousand small acts every day. Sometimes these simple lessons are the most powerful. He is unfailingly courteous, kind and humble. If he is going to do something, he does it the right way and through this, acts with wisdom and generosity of spirit, making how he lives an example for all those around him and increasing his impact and influence. KD is a natural leader and a living example for all our staff, all of whom respect and look up to him, and aspire to follow in his footsteps. He truly is a wonderful ambassador of the brand, a valued member of our team, and a deserving winner of the annual &Beyond Bateleur Award.”
Congratulations KD, we salute you!