The Board

Volunteer Wildfire Services

As a section 21 not for profit company, the VWS is run by a Board of Directors that deals with the governance and strategic direction of the organisation. All four stations have a dedicated Station Management Team that deals with operational matters and ensures that the members are well trained, equipped and ready to respond to a call-out at a moment’s notice throughout the year.

All Board and Station Management Teams are made up of unpaid volunteers from within our membership. These roles are supported by our CEO, Claire Lotter.

Mike Jessop

Chairman

Mike is a distinguished business owner and a Naval Mechanical Engineer with a specialized background in Subsea Engineering. His remarkable journey includes being a founding member of two prominent multinational companies, where he honed his skills in strategic management. From the inception of these enterprises to overseeing corporate regional divisions within a multinational oil and gas corporation, Mike has consistently demonstrated his leadership prowess. His academic achievements are equally impressive, with an MBA thesis centered on the intricate Commercial Risk/Benefit model for Mergers and Acquisitions. Currently, Mike holds the prestigious position of CEO at OSC Marine Group, where his visionary leadership continues to drive the company's success.

Gerrie van der Watt

Member Representative

Gerrie is a seasoned professional with a diverse portfolio in the field of conflict resolution. As an independent Mediator, he skillfully navigates commercial, labor, workplace, and family disputes. Additionally, he serves as an independent Arbitrator and Labor Law Consultant, bringing his wealth of knowledge to the table. Gerrie's impressive corporate journey extends over 35 years, culminating in his role as the Divisional Managing Director for the Mercedes-Benz brand and its affiliates at McCarthy Motor Holdings Western Cape. Beyond his corporate achievements, he stands as a founding member and Managing Director of both The Dispute Resolution Firm (Pty) Ltd and The Mediation Centre, contributing significantly to the realm of dispute resolution and mediation.

Steve Akester

Board Member

Steve is a dynamic entrepreneur deeply rooted in the ITC sector, where he holds the prestigious positions of Managing Director and Partner at Vlocity Communications. His career journey is underscored by a strong foundation in system analysis and software development, reflecting his expertise in the technology landscape. In addition to his thriving business pursuits, Steve has dedicated his time and energy to serve as a firefighter and driver within the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) since 2018, exemplifying his commitment to both professional success and community service.

Claire Lötter

CEO

Claire, a trailblazing leader for over 14 years, has excelled in male-dominated industries and recently transitioned into the non-profit sector, becoming a pioneering figure in wildland firefighting. As the inaugural CEO of the Volunteer Wildfire Services, her strategic brilliance shines. She fearlessly tackles seemingly insurmountable challenges, adeptly managing complex projects, navigating challenging environments, and inspiring her team to reach their full potential. Claire's strong leadership has fostered a loyal and motivated team committed to making a positive impact. Driven by a profound passion for the environment and conservation, she has propelled the Volunteer Wildfire Services to become South Africa's largest non-profit provider of wild firefighting services. Under her guidance, the organization has been a lifeline for communities affected by wildfires, serving as a beacon of hope during times of crisis.

Mike Jessop

Software Engineer

Mike is a distinguished business owner and a Naval Mechanical Engineer with a specialized background in Subsea Engineering. His remarkable journey includes being a founding member of two prominent multinational companies, where he honed his skills in strategic management. From the inception of these enterprises to overseeing corporate regional divisions within a multinational oil and gas corporation, Mike has consistently demonstrated his leadership prowess. His academic achievements are equally impressive, with an MBA thesis centered on the intricate Commercial Risk/Benefit model for Mergers and Acquisitions. Currently, Mike holds the prestigious position of CEO at OSC Marine Group, where his visionary leadership continues to drive the company's success.

Gerrie van der Watt

Member Representative

Gerrie is a seasoned professional with a diverse portfolio in the field of conflict resolution. As an independent Mediator, he skillfully navigates commercial, labor, workplace, and family disputes. Additionally, he serves as an independent Arbitrator and Labor Law Consultant, bringing his wealth of knowledge to the table. Gerrie's impressive corporate journey extends over 35 years, culminating in his role as the Divisional Managing Director for the Mercedes-Benz brand and its affiliates at McCarthy Motor Holdings Western Cape. Beyond his corporate achievements, he stands as a founding member and Managing Director of both The Dispute Resolution Firm (Pty) Ltd and The Mediation Centre, contributing significantly to the realm of dispute resolution and mediation.

Steve Akester

Board Member

Steve is a dynamic entrepreneur deeply rooted in the ITC sector, where he holds the prestigious positions of Managing Director and Partner at Vlocity Communications. His career journey is underscored by a strong foundation in system analysis and software development, reflecting his expertise in the technology landscape. In addition to his thriving business pursuits, Steve has dedicated his time and energy to serve as a firefighter and driver within the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) since 2018, exemplifying his commitment to both professional success and community service.

Claire Lötter

CEO

Claire, a trailblazing leader for over 14 years, has excelled in male-dominated industries and recently transitioned into the non-profit sector, becoming a pioneering figure in wildland firefighting. As the inaugural CEO of the Volunteer Wildfire Services,vher strategic brilliance shines. She fearlessly tackles seemingly insurmountable challenges, adeptly managing complex projects, navigating challenging environments, and inspiring her team to reach their full potential. Claire's strong leadership has fostered a loyal and motivated team committed to making a positive impact. Driven by a profound passion for the environment and conservation, she has propelled the Volunteer Wildfire Services to become South Africa's largest non-profit provider of wild firefighting services. Under her guidance, the organization has been a lifeline for communities affected by wildfires, serving as a beacon of hope during times of crisis.

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