Interview – From guide to guest relations

Today we are interviewing Robyn Sewell, who changed her career from being a field guide to a guest relations manager, she shares why she made the change, what she loved most about both roles as well as tips for you if you are also thinking about making a change!

Robyn, thanks so much for talking to us today! This is going to be interesting & valuable information for anyone who is in a similar situation.

  1. What made you decide to become a field guide?

I have been passionate about wildlife since I was a child, my parents were the major contributors to this as they took us kids on camping trips across the national parks from a young age. When I was in my early teens my parents’ bought shares in a game farm which sealed the deal for me and my love of nature. After finishing my BCom degree and majoring in Tourism I begged my parents to send me off on a six-week guiding course in the Lowveld and after three days I called them and asked them to tell them that this was exactly the life I wanted to live and asked them to sign me up for the full year course. I have never looked back!


  1. What is your most memorable experience as a field guide?

It is so hard to pinpoint one specific sighting but being a guide brought me so much purpose, it taught me how to deal with people from all over the world and hey…I got to spend at least 6 hours a day in nature. It was extremely rewarding to be able to teach people about the animals I was so passionate about. A couple memorable sightings included finding leopard dens with new cubs, turning a corner and finding a female lion carrying her tiny cub in her mouth, births, deaths and everything in between. I got so invested in these animals lives and built an understanding of some of their personalities.

  1. When & why did you decide that it was time for a change in career direction?

Around the time of the pandemic, I came to realise that I had a highly specialised job that wasn’t very transferrable into other industries and at that time there was no work for guides as the borders were closed. I also realised that I would never lose my passion for wildlife and so I needed to take a step forward and try to learn more about the “business” side of the tourism industry.


  1. How did you decide what new role you would like?

I have always had a strong eye for detail whether it be written language or creative activities. I felt I needed a challenge and so I wanted to learn how and what goes into managing a lodge because I still want to live in nature.


  1. Do you think your guiding skills have helped you in your current position & if so how?

Yes, I feel that it is important to realise that people travel to lodges for the safari aspect, of course the rooms, food etc are important but they can have those in a city, they’ve chosen the lodge because they want to see wildlife. So, I am able to bridge that gap of guest expectations whilst learning the ins and outs of the day-to-day management of the rest of their stay.


  1. What is the best thing about your job?

I quite like the change in pace, my favourite times of the day are the early mornings and late afternoons and so it is quite nice to have them free to use as I wish. I’m also working at a camp with managers that support me and have offered me so many opportunities to learn and grow in my new role. I occasionally help out the guiding team and I also go out on drive relatively often, so I still get my “bush fix”.


  1. Any tips for someone wanting to make a career change?

Changing careers can be quite challenging but challenges are good for growth, choosing a place to start a new career can make or break how you handle that change so weigh out your options and make sure that you can grow in your new role.  Ask questions, lots of them, don’t stop learning and bettering yourself.


If you are thinking about a career change and want some advice and guidance, book a career coaching session with Hayley –