About us


The result of deep introspection will always land at the same destination – unreserved humility. No matter what great feats we as humans or organizations accomplish, ultimately we are human. We have strengths and weaknesses. We can grow and we can regress. We can acknowledge the human factors that optimize our environment to enable success or we can ignore them and open ourselves and others up for failure and accidents.

Chris vanderWalt

Founder and managing director

Meet Our Founder

A cultural revolution during my formative years in South Africa inspired me to seek out a career of significance supporting my country. This desire, combined with my drive for excellence and care for the safety of others, drew me towards aviation. I was honoured to have my deed of commission as officer and combat instructor pilot into the South African Air Force signed by President Nelson Mandela in 1995.

As a fledgling pilot, I was exposed to the inherent risk associated with the aviation industry. This pushed me to learn more about making the environment safer for myself, my colleagues and those keen to enter the industry. Twenty years later, with a Masters in Aviation Management, specializing in Human Factors and Business, I have become a sought-after instructor, coach and trainer, truly realizing my calling. I am fascinated with the impact of human interaction and psychological principles (a.k.a. human factors) in the work environment and how these aviation principles can be used to increase productivity and enhance safety across many industries. Ultimately, this led to the launch of SAPIENS@WORK.

SAPIENS@WORK helps organizations evolve from where they are today, to where they want to be. We translate scientific research into powerful actions to transform your intercultural and organizational challenges into business success stories. We make abstract concepts tangible using a data-driven approach. We apply scientifically proven levers to optimize your existing social structures, improve efficiency, reduce human error and create a truly inclusive environment allowing all your stakeholders to thrive.

A healthy and dynamic culture is critical to the success of any organization. Creating one that supports safety, constructive collaboration and positive results is our priority.

Chris vanderWalt

Founder and managing director


Annique Oosthuizen

Operations Manager for SAPIENS Thrive

I am an accomplished flight instructor, lecturer and airline pilot with a special interest in training, human factors, psychology and well-being. Early in my career, I realized that my passion extended to more than just flying. I have a heart for people and wanted to help others to reach their potential, which led to my decision to become a flight instructor at 43 Air School in South Africa. Thereafter I spent a few years as a contract pilot flying in Africa and the Middle East for various corporations and humanitarian missions. In this period I witnessed extreme hardship and the devastating results of war, but also saw hope and resilience. This was an extremely rewarding and fulfilling time in my career that changed my worldview, and also satisfied my quest for purpose and adventure. Blessed with a 13-year tenure as an airline pilot at South African Airways, I learnt to function effectively in a high-performing team where I was able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience of the admired leaders with whom I shared a flight deck and traveled the globe. Concurrent with my airline flying I worked as a freelance flight simulator instructor on multi-engine turboprop aircraft, conducting Pilot Proficiency Checks (PPC), technical lectures, and Multi-Crew Cooperation- (MCC) and Crew Resource Management (CRM) courses for various companies.

Inspired by my passion for training and human factors, I completed a BCom degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of South Africa. During my studies, I recognized the value of the aviation principles I have learnt and how they are transferable to other industries and life in general. Dealing with time pressure and making rapid decisions, while communicating effectively and adapting to changes are just a few of the skills to master as a pilot. A cockpit is the ultimate Agile Environment and an aircraft does not “pause” while you figure things out. It is an art to cope with constant scrutiny and deal effectively with your mistakes, while being kind to yourself, maintaining your mental well-being and finding work-life balance. I believe that it is within the grasp of every person to find meaningful connection, fulfillment and joy despite living in a society that demands so much from us.

Outside of aviation, my interests and hobbies include cycling, scuba diving, photography, gardening and resin art. I also own a small craft business in Dubai where I can express myself creatively. Pandemic-borne skills include biltong making, pickling all sorts of vegetables and baking. As the mother of two active young boys, I also enjoy solo trips to the supermarket.

Ezelda Louw

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Prof. Henri Bezuidenhout

Professor of International Trade

As a professor of International Trade, Prof Bezuidenhout has built up teaching and training credentials at home and abroad. He teaches various International trade subjects at the post-graduate level at North-West University incl. Policy, Marketing and cross border business principles. He has taught related work in Thailand, Finland, The Netherlands, and the USA. He has written more than 20 peer-reviewed papers on foreign direct investment, investment promotion and export promotion in Africa. He has presented his research at conferences from Indonesia and Hongkong to Canada and the US.

Prof Bezuidenhout’s passion, which arose from his research on doing business in Africa, is the importance of Cross-Cultural Competency in Leadership Across Borders. He is the only person in the world holding all 7 major Cultural Training Certifications. He has also visited more than 50 countries and worked with people from more than 110 countries.

Supporting his teaching and training credentials, Prof Bezuidenhout is also a certified executive coach with International Coach Federation and Gallup Strengths Finder Certifications. As a coach, he focuses on High Performing Teams and Organizational Transformation.

Most recently, he completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Lead Certificate program, Prof Bezuidenhout is consolidating his background, qualifications, and passions in intercultural leadership development through personal, team and organizational change and development.

Richard Greef

Airline Pilot

Richard has been flying for 32 years, since his first flying lesson on his 16th birthday. After leaving school, he joined the military where he was trained as a fighter pilot and an instructor in the South African Air Force.

Today he is an experienced airline pilot who has flown as a first officer and a captain for various airlines and is currently a first officer flying Boeing 747’s for an Asian cargo airline. When not flying airliners he can often be spotted at his favourite flying club flying classic light aircraft.

His extensive military, training, airline and volunteer experience has helped form a solid foundation of knowledge in human factors that he is eager to share with people from any background and assist in applying in any environment. He has a passion for the psychology behind human factors in the aviation environment and sees a very strong correlation between his industry and the potential for cross pollinating what he has learnt into other environments in other professions.

Jaco van der Westhuizen

Human Factors Consultant

As an Air Traffic Controller and Human Factors Specialist in the aviation industry, I am experienced and skilled in Safety Management Systems. I bring expertise in the design and implementation of human-centered safety programs solutions, based on complexity theory and systems thinking. I attained my PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of Pretoria.