For CEO Provincial Manager for the Free State and Northern Cape, Wesley Field, his approach and attitude to trail running and hiking is echoed in his career and personal life. The accomplished runner has completed some of the continent’s most difficult trail runs, including SkyRun Zimbabwe and Ultra Trail Drakensberg – and he’s discovered that the trail is a great teacher, helping runners develop character traits that also help in real life. As pro ultra-runner and coach, Sarah Smith puts it; “In approaching trails and life, the really good athletes learn to focus mainly on the mile they’re in and not get overwhelmed by all the miles still to go; take care of themselves; know when to ask for help; take risks and lean in; think positive; adapt and be flexible; practice consistency and be patient.”
Wesley’s realised that he could use these traits to great effect in law too. Ironically enrolled to study Human Movement Sciences, he eventually switched to law. “My parents played a big part in this decision, identifying that I may have the necessary traits and characteristics to succeed in the legal profession,” Wesley says.
Wesley was born in Burgersdorp, a small town in the Eastern Cape. He spent his primary school years on the family farm before his parents sent him to Gonubie, East London, where he lived with his aunt and uncle and their son. He lived with them until he matriculated from Selborne College. “My uncle had a huge influence on me,” insists Wesley. “Through him, I discovered my love for sport and competition. He was an extremely competitive individual, and from a young age, myself, my brother and my cousin were introduced to a multitude of sports and hobbies to keep ourselves busy and entertained. I have taken a lot of the lessons I’ve learnt from him into my professional life.”
Wesley completed his Articles at McIntyre van der Post, a law respected firm in Bloemfontein, and was unsure of his next career move. “I was open to anything that piqued my interest,” he recalls. “During an interview at CEO, sitting across the table from National Manager, Jaundré Kruger, I immediately knew that this was an organisation that I could grow with. What I love about CEO, what I have loved for years now, is the relationship with the employees. It might sound cliché, but colleagues have genuinely become family. The support and assistance, on all levels, is unlike any workplace I have the pleasure of being a part of.”
The spirit of support and care is followed through into his dealings with members as well. “I also believe that it is paramount, in a country where the employer is forever getting the short end of the stick, to have an organisation like CEO, to protect these companies,” insists Wesley. “In these times, COVID-19 presents an ongoing challenge. Couple that with an ever-increasing National Minimum Wage, significant cost increases in the materials of certain imports and a struggling economy, I believe that employers are facing the toughest struggle yet.” It is worth recalling Sarah Smith’s words as CEO works out how to assist employers through the labour issues as well; “Take what the trail gives you. If the trail becomes steep and gnarly, then hike it. If it’s a smooth ribbon of dirt, then stride out and run hard. Make the most of whatever is in front of you.” Wesley and his team are constantly adapting to the ‘trail’ that presents itself to members in the various labour forums and councils.
Apart from spending a great deal of time trail running, Wesley is an avid gamer, and he enjoys watching sport whenever time allows. “And then, of course, the occasional beer with close friends!” he adds. His beer glass ‘runneth’ over!