People are core to our business. The group’s positive performance in recent years reflects the strong quality of our people and we take pride in investing in our employees to support our business strategy of turning fishing rights into value. Empowering our people means providing job security, satisfaction, recognition and opportunities for skills and career development.

Oceana Group

Quality Manager, Lucky Star, St Helena Bay

Nomaroma Maxhanti

16 years’ service at oceana

After matriculating in 1997 I had to choose between remaining in the village or packing my bags and heading for Cape Town, with the hope of finding employment that will help me save money for furthering my studies.

Little did I know that the choice I made, was going to lead to a fulfilling journey at one of Oceana Group’s divisions on the West Coast.

My journey started in 1998 as a fish packer at Oceana Brands, now Lucky Star. I knew I was not going to get a glamorous job armed with matric only. Three years later I was promoted to quality controller and was sent to attend a quality control short course at Cape Technikon. Through this course I got to know about food technology and its relevance in the nature of the job I was doing then. I applied for a bursary to study towards a National Diploma in Food Technology and in 2003 I became a full-time student at Peninsula Technikon and I was still allowed to work during school holidays. The bursary covered tuition fees, study material, campus accommodation and study leave – which meant I was paid weekly while studying.

I had to leave my two year old with relatives at the time while I stayed at the Technikon’s residence pursuing my studies. This taught me that life is all about making choices and sacrifices. I focused on ensuring that I completed my diploma within the set time as I felt that the company had given me an opportunity of a lifetime.

I have had several promotions since completing my diploma, and my recent promotion to Quality Manager made me realise the commitment Oceana has towards developing its employees.

There have been other training opportunities offered to me and the New Manager Development Programme (NMDP) through USB equipped me with the necessary skills to be an asset for the company.

I also received support from managers and colleagues – this has had a positive impact in my journey.

Thank you, Oceana, for giving me an opportunity to further my studies and for all the confidence you have had in me through the 16 years with the company.

Oceana Group

James Ncapayi

40 years’ service at oceana

My late older brother worked for Commercial Cold Storage, now known as CCS Logistics. He convinced me to leave Lady Frere for Cape Town as he was going to help secure a job for me at CCS. He kept his word and I started working at CCS in January 1974 at the age of 22.

This was my first job and I have been loyal to the company for the past 40 years. I will be retiring in March 2015. I will leave with a smile as the company has treated me well all these years. The company has gone a long way to transform itself and we are reaping the rewards. I have maintained the same work ethics throughout the years. This is how I want to be remembered.

I started as a general worker loading and offloading boxes from trucks, among others, as our customers keep their products with us in cold storage. This required me to be trustworthy – not once did I think of stealing because I did not want to embarrass myself and lose my job as a result of theft or for any other transgression. This worked to my advantage as I was later promoted to checker, a position I still hold today. This position requires more discipline and attention to detail as I must ensure that customer goods are recorded correctly prior to being stored – signing off that the total number of goods received or despatched is correct.

I was given an opportunity to attend courses in customer care and work ethics. I also attended a business-related course which helped me to understand how the business operates and how businesses in general operate. This helped me a lot as it made me realise that how we behave has an impact on the success of the business.

The early payout showed me that this company is committed to empowering employees. Knowing that I will be a beneficiary when I retire, puts a smile on face, let alone knowing that should I die, my family will still benefit.

Thank you to CCS Logistics and Oceana for making my journey worthwhile. My late brother gave me an opportunity to work for a great company that looks well after its people.

Oceana Group



I was born to a fisherman father and grew up in the fishing community of Ocean View, so it should come as no surprise that I have spent most of my career within one of South Africa’s largest fishing companies.

When I finished school I wanted to study Cost and Management Accounting, but due to lack of funds I had to use a state subsidy and study teaching. When the Education Department retrenched me, I was interviewed at Blue Continent Products and in 1998 was appointed as a general office administrator – delivering mail and doing typing. Three years later I was given an opportunity to study towards BComm Accounting and gained entry into the Finance department at BCP, working as a PA while studying. It was an encouraging sign that the company was willing to invest in me and I worked hard to produce quality work. This paid off and in 2005 I was appointed as an accounting assistant in Blue Atlantic Trading.

I completed my BComm in 2011 through Unisa and HR was extremely supportive during this time. I started a family while I was studying – it was a bumpy road but through determination to succeed I adjusted.

In 2014, I registered for CIMA (management accounting qualification), influenced by the idea I had of where (Oceana CEO) Francois Kuttel wanted to take the business. I wanted to align my expertise with this vision and remain relevant for Oceana’s future. There have been challenges along the way, juggling work, a family and studies, but I have had strong support from my manager and family. I made sure that my studies did not impact the quality of the work that was expected from me. Oceana is the company that I would like to retire from and I want to give back by sharing and applying the knowledge I have gained through the studies the company has afforded me.

My message is that dedication and hard work pays off. Find a moment to understand where the company is going and how you fit in. Thank you, Oceana, for caring about the development of employees.

Oceana Group



I was born in Cofimvaba, a small rural town in the Eastern Cape. At school, maths and science were my favourite subjects so after finishing matric I studied Chemical Engineering.

In 2003, I did a year’s in-service training at the Lucky Star fishmeal plant in St Helena Bay, returning to Pentech complete my diploma. In 2004, I returned to Lucky Star on a six-month contract as an evaporator plant operator. My work here saw me being appointed in the role permanently, tasked with ensuring that machinery operations met standards, tested products and met specifications, among others. I was still young and had a lot to learn but received support from senior operators and supervisors.

Three years later, I was promoted to shift supervisor. It was a challenge to be a young female in a role requiring me to supervise men – some of whom undermined you because you were young enough to be their daughter. However, I was mentored by Titania Stefanus-Zincke, who emphasised that being a woman should not limit the potential and growth of women in a male-dominated environment. Training opportunities were offered, and these helped me to manage the new role as supervisor with ease. I felt the need to work hard, under pressure, with no room for errors. Being the first female shift supervisor to work in a fishmeal plant on the West Coast makes me proud.

In 2009, a promotion to assistant fishmeal plant manager saw me moving to Hout Bay, where my responsibilities increased. I was sent to University of Stellenbosch to do an EMDP. This programme played a huge role in shaping my thinking and management skills.

Two years ago I became a waste heat evaporator specialist, since my skills and experience with evaporators made me the ideal person to manage this new technology.

In my 11 years of working at Oceana I have been exposed to so many areas of the business. I am regularly consulted when there are new projects, and giving my input makes me feel valued. I have also been privileged to have various learning opportunities to grow.

It also confirms Oceana’s position as a transformed company, empowering women in the process. Being female in a male-dominated engineering environment makes me proud of what I have achieved and of the role Oceana had in this journey.

Oceana Group

eugene bergens

10 years’ service at oceana

When I was at high school I wanted to join the Navy. Today, I am the 1st Mate of the Desert Diamond, Oceana helped me to fulfil the dream of being at sea and wearing a uniform.

I was recruited in 2004 to join the “South Africanisation” training programme on board the Desert Diamond. The programme was initiated by Oceana in collaboration with the Sector Education and Training Authority. I had completed matric and had no further education. Together with other recruits, we received extensive training in Saldanha Bay. The programme was aimed at transferring skills from the predominantly Russian crew on the vessel and it certainly marked the beginning of a fulfilling journey on board the “Diamond”, as we affectionately refer to the Desert Diamond.

Oceana offered me the opportunity to provide for my family as I am the breadwinner at home. All the training I received in the ten years I have been with Oceana has been paid for by the company, for that I am grateful. This certainly proves to me that Oceana is a great company to work for and takes pride in developing all employees whether land or sea based.

In 2005, I was nominated for the Department of Transport’s Best Marine Technical Award. I am on track to achieve a Class 3 certificate – which will allow me to pursue my biggest dream of not just being a sea captain, but captain of the Desert Diamond – taking command of the largest fishing trawler in South Africa.

Spending days at sea behind the deck of the “Diamond” requires sacrifice from my side as we can be out at sea for up to 30 days at a time, with little time spent with family and friends. Conditions at sea are not always conducive, they can be very dangerous. Oceana helped me unleash the passion I have for my job and these challenges do not deter me from wearing my uniform when duty calls.

My journey has always been fulfilling and filled with proud moments from what I have achieved. Oceana invested in my development when they spotted my potential. I made a silent commitment to give back to Oceana by navigating the sea and steering the “Diamond” in the right direction.

Oceana Group


41 years’ service at oceana

It was in 1973 when I started working here. I was 20 years old then but it seems like yesterday. I have two children who are also employed by this company – one at Oceana Lobster and the other one at the Lucky Star plant.

9 November 2014 will mark 41 years of service with this company and I will be retiring in the next two years.

In my earlier years, I drove around with the truck collecting lobster from various parts of the West Coast. Later I became a driver. I was later promoted to a supervisory role – a position I still hold. I supervise 10 people who work on the lobster tanks – picking lobster tails and ensuring that lobster is kept alive while in the tanks.

Being illiterate has disadvantages as I could not attend a formal training course to learn about managing people. Despite this I still received the necessary training through coaching. My manager sat me down and gave me one-on-one training on what the role entailed – how to manage and treat people. When I encounter difficult personalities within the team I always reference back to the knowledge that was shared with me.

Oceana does not offer learning opportunities to the educated employees only. People like me have been offered a learning opportunity through ABET, though I declined this opportunity because I felt it was too late in life and, given my age at the time, it wouldn’t have been easy. The company goes an extra mile in finding ways of teaching us new things and sharing information though some of us are illiterate.

I would never have allowed my children to work here if this was not a great company that looked well after its employees.

Oceana has showed us that they truly believe in empowerment. The early payout empowered us and the company provided us with information on how best to invest or spend the money. The scheme will help me when I retire too as I will still be a beneficiary and entitled to any payout and distribution made.

Oceana empowers not only employees but also communities, because we can see the contribution they are making in the local communities by supporting schools. This makes me proud.

Oceana Group

Mandisa Pakamisa

5 years’ service at oceana

I have always known I wanted to study accounting. Graduating with a national Diploma in Cost and Management Accounting from the Cape Peninsula University of technology led me to joining CCs Logistics, an Oceana Group company, as a debtors clerk in 2009.

The development opportunities, coaching and mentoring opportunities offered by the group saw me move through the ranks to admin manager. To be where I am today, I had to manage my career path. When I felt boredom setting in due to my work becoming routine I spoke with my manager and when an opportunity arose, I was given the opportunity to act as admin supervisor.

This made me feel valued and trusted. Supervising staff was intimidating in the beginning as I had to know where to draw the line. I had to learn to be firm and the additional training and mentorship offered to me went a long way in acquiring new skills.

In October, after returning from maternity leave, I left my comfort zone and took up a new position as admin manager, changing company premises – from Paarden Island to V&A – and working with a new team, but I am embracing the challenges.

I have been nominated for the EMD Programme for 2015. This will certainly help me hone my leadership skills. This nomination showed me that my potential has been acknowledged and that the company is willing to invest in me. Oceana looks after its employees well. The company contributed towards my BTech and the Oceana Empowerment Trust payout was just another way of showing this.

Oceana Group

Unathi Bota

4 years’ service at oceana

I grew up wanting to be a pilot and later realised that I was cut out for engineering. After graduating with a BTech in Mechanical Engineering from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2009, I joined Oceana Group as a graduate trainee in 2010 within the Blue Continent Products Division. Through the programme I gained exposure in the marine environment and the real working world. My first project required that I assist the technical manager in the refit of Desert Ruby and I spent time with the crew on board a fishing vessel. This helped me to understand the entire operation and the relevance of my role in ensuring continued operations while the vessel is at sea. Working in a fishing vessel with massive engines, climbing ladders, inspecting tanks located in confined spaces was not what I had envisaged. This marked the beginning of a fulfilling journey where I spend most of my time wearing overalls and safety boots in a male-dominated work environment.

In 2012, I was appointed assistant marine superintendent and I embraced the responsibilities assigned to me. I realised that I had to be accountable and this required dedication, commitment, attention to detail and sometimes long working hours in order to ensure that the company does not lose money as a result of a vessel not at sea due to my inefficiencies.

Being promoted to marine superintendent, this year, was a career-defining moment for me, realising I was going to be the first female to occupy this role within the company. This proved Oceana’s commitment to empowering women in a previously male-dominated environment. I saw this as a growth opportunity and it encouraged me to work even harder and exceed expectations. Along with four men, I am in charge of keeping a fleet of eight vessels – including the Desert Diamond, South Africa’s largest commercial fishing trawler – operational and at sea in line with South African Maritime Safety Authority requirements.

I have been offered training opportunities, which helped me gain more knowledge and acquire new skills. I received support from technical managers and superintendents – this was critical during the training programme. Dirk Burger, fleet technical manager, also played a great mentorship role, being patient and supportive as he imparted knowledge. I want to encourage other employees to seize the additional training and studying opportunities offered by Oceana and make the most out of them.

“The sky is the limit!”