Tasimba’s Founder – Hugh Coppen
“Hugh’s personal Africa and business experience, and his absolute credibility, is vital to the whole concept. His manner, as a host, is extremely valuable. Hugh authentically is qualified to win the trust and interest of complete strangers.” – Strat Sherman, Ridgefield, CT
Tasimba is a unique safari experience on many different levels. Among the attributes that separate it from other safaris is the background and experience of its founder, Hugh Coppen.
Hugh grew up in Zimbabwe, from age 7 attending boarding schools in what is now Kwazulu-Natal requiring three days and nights train travel from home. His family owned a 3,000 acre mixed farm north of Harare and had a cottage high in the Eastern Highlands.
At the University of Cape Town, he studied pre-law where, for two years, he was taught by Prof. Jack Simons, the pioneering anti-apartheid teacher of African history, culture and politics. Simons was exiled from South Africa a year later and became the political commissar in the training camps of the African National congress in Zambia and Angola during the struggle. Prof. Simons’ impact on Hugh was so profound that, immediately after graduation, Hugh left Africa to start his career and his family in the UK and Canada rather than live under the white supremacy regimes in what was then Rhodesia and South Africa.
His business career in major corporations such as Colgate-Palmolive, General Foods, Inter-City Gas and Molson Breweries led to successive roles as CEO of three different media manufacturing companies in Canada, the UK and the US. In 2001 he started his own leadership development company, Winning Leadership, Inc., working with CEOs and senior leaders in a wide range of industries and business sizes.
Throughout his life, his love for Africa never left him. Hugh always maintained strong bonds with Africa through frequent return trips for both business and pleasure. For a few years, he even lived on and managed the family farm. Seizing every opportunity to experience safaris in vehicles, boats, canoes and walks, Hugh’s passion for wildlife and the African wilderness has grown deeper with every day he has spent ‘in the bush’. His wide exposure to the wild has taught him that there is always something new to learn from Africa’s raw nature.
It is the fusion of his lifelong passion for the African wilderness combined with his highly successful career in business leadership that inspires this unique, once-in-a-lifetime safari experience for leaders – Tasimba. Hugh is proud to host our Tasimba members and will share his deep African background, knowledge and stories with them, giving them a unique personal lens through which to deepen their overall experience in Africa.
Tasimba’s C.O.O. – Heather Weaver
Every great vision needs someone with executional expertise to turn it into an operational reality. In Tasimba’s case, that person is our C.O.O., Heather Weaver, with whom Hugh has worked in various businesses for over 25 years.
As a Management Consultant, Heather’s business engagements took her to a variety of companies in the US, the UK and in Canada. Among her greatest skills is a high level of empathy and awareness of how leadership behaviors are perceived at all levels in organizations, and the major impact these have on leadership effectiveness.
Heather’s role in Tasimba is central to our success. She is the hands-on expert who devises, plans and executes every operational detail in the Tasimba program. She creates, produces and manages Tasimba’s communications including social media and our website. In camp during Tasimba safaris, she is responsible for coordinating all activities among our members, the game guides and the camp staff, ensuring that all members are fully engaged and that any special requirements are met.
The Tasimba Team
Tasimba is more than Hugh and Heather. It is the collaborative product of an extraordinary team whose input, counsel and participation have contributed to Tasimba being the unique, exclusive experience that it now is.
The Africa Specialists
Our partnership with Wilderness Safaris is a huge part of what makes Tasimba the unique experience it is. Wilderness is Africa’s leading eco-tourism operator, and is selected by Tasimba as host for our program at their classic Linkwasha camp in Hwange National Park. Wilderness excels in delivering comfortable, peaceful ambiance, unparalleled service and extraordinary wildlife. Every day, Wilderness people like Graham Simmonds, Craig Glatthaar, Tendai Mdluli, Caroline Grant and the entire Linkwasha Team along with Sue Goatley of Children in the Wilderness, contribute enormous energy, ideas and professionalism to the enhancement of the Tasimba experience.
The Professional Wildlife Guides
“My biggest surprise has been learning from the professional guides we have had here. The level of experience they have in their profession is literally the equivalent to being a doctor. Their knowledge, their commitment and the personal sacrifices they had to go through to get to be professional guides is really amazing.” – Jeremy Tibbets, Concord, CA
The professional guides of Zimbabwe are widely regarded as the best in Africa for their training, the knowledge that they are required to demonstrate and the qualifications they must meet. Our guides are fully integrated into our program and are eager to use their expertise to connect great wildlife encounters with Tasimba’s core purpose.
The Travel Experts
Tasimba is proud to partner with Chris Liebenberg and Mark Forman of Piper & Heath Travel in San Diego. True professionals with deep personal knowledge of Africa and a dedication to the highest level of service to their customers, we strongly recommend them to our Tasimba members for all their travel requirements in connection with their Tasimba safari.
The African Wilderness
Of all the elements that set Tasimba apart as a great leadership experience, the African wild is the most unique. It cannot be replicated anywhere else. The vast unspoiled landscape, the rich wildlife and birdlife, the sights, smells, sounds and unpredictability of the bush stimulate your awareness and your self-discovery and are the crucible of your life-changing experience.
The Tasimba Story
Many years ago, on Chikwenya Island in the middle of the Zambezi river, the idea of bringing CEOs and senior leaders for a week of life-changing self-discovery, was born. Hugh Coppen, who grew up in Southern Africa, had been on many different safaris through a lifelong connection with the African wild. On that early morning, he was on a group walk with a professional Guide and two colleagues, both leadership development experts, for whom this was their first time in a safari camp and their first time in the bush on foot.
A surprise close encounter with an elephant herd gave them an adrenalin-peaked experience that triggered a wide array of reactions, insights and self-discovery. As they talked about the event during the rest of that day and around the campfire long into the night, they realized that the exposure and the vulnerability experienced in the African wild opens people’s minds and hearts to a whole new level of self-awareness and self-discovery. The deeper they explored this realization, the more they identified great lessons the African wilderness can teach us, and the more they understood the profound growth and change that a week-long immersion in the wild can create for senior business leaders.
Short term client business pressures and the Great Recession shelved the idea for several years – but still it lived on in Hugh’s mind. In early 2015, in a more favorable economic and political climate, he dusted off the idea and revitalized its execution. With input and ideas from a team of seasoned business leaders as well as from our partners in Africa, the idea has evolved into a unique, impactful experience of adventure, self-discovery and shared personal growth.
Tasimba has become reality!