“Of particular significance is the fact that she deals with all client communication personally."

Ceo Magazine


It’s all in the attitude

January 2003

There is little doubt that Surgeon & Safari qualifies as a true South African business success story. By taking every thing that is quintessentially South African, packaging it smartly and backing it up with clever marketing, Lorraine Melvill has built a business that provides an excellent example of what can be done with a little perseverance.

“What we basically do is provide foreigners with the opportunity to make use of the world’s best cosmetic surgeons and medical facilities; the ability to recover in luxury and a five star safari to rejuvenate them before they return home,” explains Melvill.

Although she is enjoying tremendous success at present Melvill admits that initially she had to battle negative perceptions of South Africa – not only abroad but also at home.

“I think as South Africans we need to work on our attitude, we have emerged from a period where negativity was the order of the day and despite the positive changes that took place with democratisation, there is still a tendency to be pessimistic.”

Melvill states that her business grew out of the need for her to do something positive. Her innovative use of the internet and her approach to business that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved, sets her organisation apart from traditional business models.

Her web service provides a vast array of information and serves as a touch point of communication with her clients. Of particular significance is the fact that she deals with all client communication personally.

“Client service is paramount and I make sure that the people such as receptionists and porters at hotels where clients are staying, are sensitised to the need for the provision of the best possible service. Of course they are suitably rewarded for their efforts and granted the recognition that they deserve.”

Melvill believes that women have the ability to play a far greater entrepreneurial role than is currently the case. She emphasises the fact that women are far more creative than men and that they have the talent to assesses business challenges from a different perspective and come up with a variety of solutions.

“The biggest challenge for women in business is to be themselves, women perceive the business environment as belonging to men, and assume if we want to enter this requirement we should behave like men.

“This is not necessary, femininity has a role to play in the workplace. In addition women should pursue those ideas and business opportunities that they believe will really satisfy their needs and help them realise their own ambitions.

Education is in her opinion not a prerequisite for success. While Melville acknowledges that one needs to has some basic education, tapping into your personal powers is a far more important.

“You have to believe in yourself; education, the company you are working for and even your ability to move in the right circles does not guarantee success. At the end of the day making a success of your career and your life resides with you,” concludes Melvill.


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