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Celebrating Lucille Sive, the Travel Industry’s “African Queen,” on International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2017, by Katherine Chin

"A woman is human. She is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man. Likewise, she is never less." – Vera Nezarian, Author.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, African Travel, Inc. would like to celebrate and honor one of our very own who has inspired and led The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) Africa Division to the successful company it is today.

Lucille Sive, began her career in the travel industry over 30 years ago at African Travel, Inc.’s sister company, Lion World Travel after immigrating to Toronto, Canada from South Africa with her husband. Since then, Lucille has tirelessly worked to successfully promote and grow the business in the North American market. This could not have been an easy feat for a blonde hair, blue eyed, 5’1” (ish) woman in an industry, at the time, dominated by men.

Through hard work, dedication, making mistakes, learning as you go and staying true to oneself, Lucille has led a very successful career with many career highlights including becoming the first female executive in North America outside of the Tollman family, receiving the 2012 Ubuntu Career Achievement Award and also the TTC Mike Ness Award in 2010 – an award that is presented to an individual within TTC who exemplifies aggressiveness in finding new sources of business, living ‘never-say never’ and who has an outstanding bottom-line focus. In addition, Lucille has led many sustainable and responsible travel initiatives in Africa and these are what she is most proud of and what she holds closest to her heart. Some of Lucille’s favorite partnerships include working closely with game reserves in South Africa to rehabilitate and conserve the rhino population and partnering with Khayelitsha Cookies, a micro-business in Cape Town led by women, where the proceeds of the cookies we purchase as welcome gifts for guests go directly towards supporting the Khayelitsha community. She is also passionate about The Amy Foundation, which provides after-school programs in dance, drama, sports, music, cooking and more to children living in vulnerable communities around Cape Town.

In honor of IWD, we not only wanted to highlight Lucille’s many incredible achievements, but also celebrate a woman who has paved the way and serves as an example of success for other women. This year’s #BeBoldForChange IWD campaign calls for explaining that exact moment when someone took bold action to help improve or develop an aspect of their own livelihood, career or business, so we asked Lucille to share her boldest moment.

  • What was your bold moment?

I’ve had a lot of bold moments, but my boldest moment was probably when I started working at Lion World Travel. In South Africa, I was a mathematics and drama teacher. After moving to Canada in 1982, I would have had to re-do all of the required qualifications in order to continue teaching. I decided to do a travel course instead and convinced the manager (at the time) at Lion World Travel that I could do marketing. It was the boldest moment of my career because I was completely changing career paths and starting in a new industry, all while getting accustomed to life in a new country.

  • How did you do it?

I can say that I’ve always been a go-getter, but I think I was able to take bold action through self-confidence and determination. Of course, I knew nothing about marketing or the travel industry when I first started working at Lion World Travel, but I believe that one never stops learning. So that is what I did, I learned and learned and was able to show that I could grow the business and after 2 years, I was asked to manage the company.

  • What motivated you?

Before moving to Canada from South Africa, I had never travelled outside of the continent. At the time, I wanted to get a job in the travel industry so that I could see the world. After 32 years, I’m proud to say that I’ve travelled quite extensively, but I’m especially proud that I’ve also been able to promote and encourage travel to my home continent through African Travel, Inc. and Lion World Travel.

  • How can others learn from this?

I think what others can learn is that they should just go for it. I think it’s too often that people are afraid of failure, especially women. When we do fail, it is one of the greatest learning opportunities. I always say that we should make lemonade out of lemons – so much so that I got a juicer as a holiday gift.

Affectionately known in the travel industry as The African Queen,” Lucille is thrilled that she has been able to spend her career helping others discover the continent that she grew up on. And on this International Women’s Day and also her birthday, we’re proud to salute Lucille and her incredible accomplishments.  

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