Catalysts gather in the bush

KWA Maritane Bush Lodge, located in South Africa’s Pilanesberg National Park on the slopes of a two-billion-year-old volcano, was the perfect location for a conference to celebrate the 30th anniversary of teambuilding specialists Catalyst Global.


Catalyst Global, which uses the power of intelligent game design to create teambuilding activities, needed an ideal environment to gather 45 of the world’s best teambuilding companies representing 60 countries for a conference based on the theme of evolution.

Team Building Asia is part of the Catalyst network and its managing director, Stuart Harris, travelled from Hong Kong to attend the event. 

The four-star Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge and hotel, a two-hour drive from Johannesburg and ten minutes from Sun City, can accommodate up to 400 delegates in its Tau, Nare and Rhino conference rooms. Home to Africa’s “big five” wild animals, it boasts a range of facilities, including safari-style game reserve experiences.


The conference started with a tablet-based Quickfire quiz, designed to test delegates’ knowledge of the history of teambuilding and to encourage them to think about the future of the teambuilding industry.

Keynote speaker Quinton Coeteze illustrated the natural potential of humans with stories from the African bush, encouraging participants to consider the correlation between the success of their businesses and their ability to recognise, seize and exploit every opportunity.

It was identified that bringing lasting change to individuals and organisations is a measure of success for business owners in the team development industry.

The conference was told how gamification and technology would play an increasingly important role in experiential learning, and four new technology based teambuilding programmes were unveiled.

The Infinite Loop, in which teams work with the aid of a VR headset to free a teenager trapped in a virtual world, draws on the principles of lean management practices, and the concept
of continuous improvement.

Other technology products presented included Outbreak, Escape the Island, and Red Alert. Each has a unique theme, and although they share the common thread of problem solving and time management, they target different aspects of team development.

Lubo Tomko, from Extra Ordinary in Slovakia, involved delegates in a powerful and emotional session on connecting as delegates were told that “growing hyperconnectivity brings the need for greater in-person social connections”.

An aptly named team development programme called Integrity was launched, focusing on practising rather than professing values, with the importance of identifying and choosing what is right emphasised over what is fast, fun, or easy when it comes to forming strong connections.

Slovenian Cultural Ambassador, and keynote speaker, Miha Pogacnik, then took conference participants on a musical learning journey with his violin, challenging people’s thinking on engagement, motivation, creativity, and excellence.

Team development practitioners have been identified as playing an important role in the engagement and wellbeing of employees, and delegates were treated to a relaunch of Catalyst’s popular mindfulness programme Meditainment, which has been redeveloped in conjunction with WellMind Media.

Keynote speaker Fabio Tognetti, founder of Italy’s Emotional Training Academy, then inspired delegates to find new ways to communicate, negotiate, and manage emotions for greater effectiveness, and happiness in life.

A key theme of the conference was the concept of giving. Catalyst Network was presented with an award for its collective contribution to people and communities in need through its global giving initiative Buy1GIVE1.

The conference was told that “giving to a cause leads to the greatest feelings of happiness for the giver when the giving fosters social connection”, and several new CSR teambuilding activities were launched, including Sole Responsibility, in which participants practise team skills while creating three-dimensional art from recycled flip-flop pollution.

Catalyst has partnered with Ocean Sole, an organisation that collects around 500,000 flip-flops from Kenya’s beaches each year to make the programme a reality.

The conference closed with teambuilding activity Rags to Riches, with participants creating a giant artwork from their unwanted clothing, the proceeds of which will be given to worthy causes in South Africa.


Catalyst’s work and the conference was praised by Catalyst Global CEO Guy Baker. “I am proud to be part of this community. An amazingly knowledgeable, culturally diverse, group of people bound by a common purpose.

“I leave charged with the positive impact our industry can bring to individuals and businesses worldwide,” Baker said.

Gerry Skerrit, from Dream Team South Africa, said the conference showed “the future is filled with excitement”.

“Our work has evolved from staging events that aid team building  – something that creates a feel-good factor and is a ‘nice to have’ – to being agents for change and, facilitating team development, essential in today’s business world.

“The conference confirmed that we are maintaining our edge, our relevance, and that the demand for our products, and services will continue to grow exponentially.”


EVENT: Catalyst Global 30th anniversary conference

ORGANISER: Catalyst Global

VENUE: Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge, South Africa

ATTENDANCE: 45 teambuilding companies from 60 countries

BIG MOMENTS: Launch of new teambuilding activities, CSR programmes and addresses by keynote speakers Quinton Coeteze, Lubo Tomko, Miha Pogacnik, and Fabio Tognetti

DATE: November 4-8, 2018


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