Meet the Boss: Lana Field, the owner of Epic Work and Travel
For Lana Field, winning the Emerging Entrepreneur category of the 2016 Businesswomen’s Association of Port Elizabeth (BWA) Investec Regional Business Achiever Awards (RBAA) in June is among her most cherished moments in her career as a businesswoman.
Lana is the brains behind Epic Work and Travel, an exciting Port Elizabeth-based company that assists young travellers and students in obtaining visas and work/travel programmes that enable them to travel the globe.
Her journey began in the small Eastern Cape town of Cathcart, where her parents are famers along the Thomas River.
She later Matriculated in 1993 at GHS Queenstown - she was a boarder since the age of six, before arriving in Port Elizabeth for tertiary education.
“I studied for one year in Port Elizabeth and decided I made the wrong decision with my chosen field of study and decided to venture over to the United Kingdom on a two-year working holiday visa,” she tells Business Link (BL) magazine, adding; “I later travelled to various countries over four years, gaining valuable experience and being an au pair one of them.”
Below is what we also found out about her (LF).
BL: You recently won the BWA’s Investec Regional Business Achiever Awards - Emerging Entrepreneur category. What does this award mean to you?
LF: It means that all my hard work and dedication to my company has been recognised.
BL: Talking about your company, Epic Work and Travel, how did it all start?
LF: Returning from overseas, I started working as an internal sales rep at Pepla Office furniture.
However, I was yearning to get into the travel and tourism. So, I later answered a small advert to become a consultant for a company called OVC.
After starting with my boss from the first client, about 6 months later, I bought the franchise from her and owned OVC Port Elizabeth. I took the company from strength to strength and sold it 9 years later when I got divorced.
I took a few years off after my divorce to get my mind back on track and get back on my feet. After a lot of thought and passion for my industry, my mind and heart was ready to begin a new chapter and I started my own business, Epic Work & Travel.
BL: What would say have been some of the highlights in your career to date?
LF: Of course winning the BWA award; it is my second biggest achievement in life, after my daughter. I have managed to grow the company rapidly in three years and have aligned myself with good, solid overseas partners.
So, I have made my family proud and have met new friends. Aside from that, I have managed to buy a townhouse and new car while continually seeing how happy people are with our service.
BL: What would you say was the best or worst business advice that you have ever received?
LF: The worst advice is probably when a client told me that I should stay a one-man show and not try to get any bigger. The best was when someone told me to ‘to go for gold’.
BL: Tell us more about your work at Epic Work & Travel?
LF: We have two spheres in the company. The first one focuses on the youth market, which has its own criteria and requirements as set out by various governments; namely au pair USA, Au pair Netherlands and Teaching English in Thailand.
The second sphere is about the various visas - consisting of individual clients travelling for leisure purposes; corporate clients for business; school groups for sports; cultural or exchange students, for example, to the UK, Europe, Australia, USA and Canada; then British passport and settlement/ancestral visas.
BL: How would you describe your leadership style?
LF: I try lead by example; communicate well with my staff and clients. I tend to encourage and motivate people, however I like being in control and its very hard for me to let go.
BL: What is it that separates Epic Work & Travel from the other players in your industry in our region?
LF: Personalised service and treating each client as an individual. Our attention to detail is key, as well as reliability and transparency with our fees.
BL: When you are out of the office, where are we most likely to find you?
LF: Spending time with my daughter and friends. I love keeping fit, so I do a lot of running and gyming. I also love good food and wine.
BL: As a working woman, how do you juggle the office and your family?
LF: With great difficulty, some days - even more so being a single parent, have their set of challenges. Working after hours is somewhat necessary but hiring an assistant lately has eased a small part of the work load.
Being active and keeping fit definitely adds value to one’s day; it helps the mind concentrate better on the tasks at hand.
BL: What advice would you give to other women in business out there?
LF: Never give up on your dreams; fight for what you believe in and go for it. Life is so short and we all deserve to have that happiness especially at work as we spend most of the day there.
Work hard, preserve and be the best at your job but mostly to have fun and enjoy what you do.
BL: What do you think or hope will be your legacy, one day when you leave your Epic Work & Travel? I
LF: I would like for people to remember the way I treated them; showed interest in their journey, caring, making sure that the work was always done correctly and the willingness to assist. It’s not always what a person is buying, but who they are buying from…
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