By Charndré Emma Kippie
Two Oceans Aquarium welcomes Ann Lamont
Trailblazer and the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation’s new Executive Chairperson, Ann Lamont, is passionate about our oceans. She took on leadership of the Foundation in April 2021. The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is the NPO/PBO partner of the Two Oceans Aquarium and focuses on education, conservation and research work.
Ann has always believed in working towards the future health of the ocean, through strong partnerships with organisations involved in conservation, education and research. When she was first introduced to the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation through her strategy and partnership work with the V&A Waterfront, she immediately knew her values were aligned. Her incredible experience and proven leadership, together with her strong commitment to social and environmental justice in South Africa and abroad in roles like the Interim Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa, has made her the ideal candidate for taking on the leadership of the Aquarium Foundation.
What got you into the field you’re currently in?
I’ve worked in many capacities to support social justice and environmental justice, specifically I started multiple multimedia education not-for-profits, and further on in my career served on the board and as interim Executive Director of GreenPeace Africa. My role at the Two Oceans Aquarium combines my passion for the environment with my passion for education.
What excites you the most about your role?
I’m most excited about the ability to create the next generation that is ocean minded and appreciates the centrality of the ocean to our future life on earth. Additionally, I’m excited to grow our core conservation work in rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing turtles and other species, and innovating around solutions for plastics and sustainable fishing.
In what ways, do you think, your organisation/business is enhancing the South African economy?
Ocean ecology and ocean tourism is one of the areas of global economic growth. We believe that sustainable fishing is critical to community livelihoods, as are the opportunities related to ocean eco-tourism. We are also building the next generation of marine scientists.
Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality?
Increasingly so, women have a natural affinity for mother earth and the ocean. The marine sciences field has come a long way since the lone voice of Dr Syliva Earl from Mission Blue, who used to be the lone female scientist on scientific expeditions. Also, our turtle rehab team is exclusively female, which is amazing!
What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
- Authenticity: stay true to the reasons you wanted to get involved in ocean conservation and awareness in the first place.
- Empathy: any conservation field is deeply complex, and it is critical to hold empathy for all involved.
- Adaptability: the world is changing so fast and as leaders we need to be able to adapt to these changes.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
I started my career as one of the first women in corporate finance in a leading investment bank in South Africa, it was problematic from the perspective of this being seen as a long-term career choice. I have faced both blatant and unconscious sexism throughout my career and have tried to deal with it by maintaining my integrity and consistently delivering. Power structures have also shifted, and it is easier to raise these issues that were in the earlier parts of my career.
What are your goals for the future?
I have worked in many diverse settings from the corporate to the social sector, and I would like the opportunity to mentor and share my learnings around driving systemic change. I also hope to continue to build our Two Ocean Aquarium Foundation work to become a premier and collaborative space for ocean education, awareness, conservation, research, and innovation.
What important/life-changing books have you read?
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
- Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges by Otto Scharmer
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?
Networking and collaboration are a critical part of entrepreneurship, as is the willingness to take risks and fail, whilst continuing to believe everything is possible. I would suggest having a very clear goal in mind and networking and connecting with other ocean minded people who can help you make your goal possible. Women lead in a way that is going to be required to create a future that works for everyone, don’t change your leadership style to fit in with the existing system.
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