There’s no shortage of formidable women here at Natural Selection, and one of our longest standing matriarchs is the utterly delightful Linda Matiki who’s been with our sibling Uncharted Africa for 15 years.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Linda began her career working as a marketing intern at a bank and then as a customer account coordinator at an advertising agency before joining Uncharted back in 2006 as a front of house manager. She then progressed to the newly created role of administration manager of the Makgadikgadi concession before taking on the position of camp manager at Jack’s Camp. Her next move was to become executive assistant to founder Ralph Bousfield, and she currently works for us as a project manager and lives in the Botswana city of Francistown with her husband Stewart (who’s also part of the Natural Selection family) and their two children.
Some might find the balance of motherhood and a top-tier career in a typically male-dominated industry a tricky one to navigate, but not so Linda who takes it all in her easystride.
“My son was born in camp and he spent his first two years with us in the bush,” she explains. “We only moved to Francistown when it was time for him to start at nursery school.”
The busy mother still spends a decent amount of time in the bush depending on the projects she’s handling.
“I do most of the planning work remotely so I spend 50 percent of the time on site when we have a big construction. During the school holidays, if I’m not on leave and travelling with the kids, I usually take them with me to the camps. I suppose you could call it child labour,” she giggles with a mischievous grin.
These are no small tasks that Linda (and occasionally her children) undertake. During lockdown she took on the unenviable role of project managing the rebuild of our iconic Jack’s Camp – the camp she had once managed. Revitalising such a beloved camp was always going to be a mammoth undertaking, but international events meant that most of the work had to be done inhouse. “We made our own furniture in our workshops, as well as all the linen and soft furnishings and even some of the tents,” she nods. “So there was a great deal of coordination and managing of results – not to mention all the sweat, tears and blood that came with it!”
She remains stoic though, and justifiably proud of the end result. “I love to turn an idea into something tangible and see it come to reality. That’s my favourite part of the job. Jack’s Camp was a journey for me. The planning of it started long before we even knew when we were going to build it. It’s a camp that has always felt like home, and the whole process from sketching it on a piece of paper up until seeing the finished camp it is now was very fulfilling.”
From the work/parenting balance to the rebuilding of entire safari camps, there’s no doubt that Linda is a problem solver with a particular affinity for making processes as smooth as they can possibly be, and everyone’s life just a little bit easier.
“I get a vision or an idea – or sometimes a problem to fix, and my job is to turn that vision or problem into a product or result, and a lot of planning, organising and direction goes into making that happen. The other aspect of my job is to make sure that these projects open on time and stay within budget so that I don’t stress Matt out too much,” she smiles, referring to our finance director.
But how does our project powerhouse destress herself? It turns out that the natural world is the answer. “I love gardening,” Linda explains. “I do my own garden at my house, and I also enjoy travelling and taking part in outdoor activities.”
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