Our tribe is made up of people from a diverse background, each one bringing unique skills and expertise to the way we do things at Appletree. Our professional experience includes holding corporate positions and consulting in a wide range of industries including FMCG, Retail, e-commerce, IT, Engineering, Insurance and Financial Services. When we are not partnering with our clients, you will find members of our tribe parenting young kids, running roads and trails, or surfing.

Travis Gale

Travis is passionate about networking the right role players into strategic journeys which will yield significant results for Appletree’s clients.

Travis wrote the vision for Appletree while cycling across four continents in 1999, raising R1.7 million for vulnerable children in KZN, South Africa. He holds a degree in HR from UKZN and has over 15 years experience in facilitating workshops, delivering keynotes, coaching and consulting. He has impacted hundreds of delegates through his work and supported many leadership teams to shape good culture within a wide range of industries and contexts. His current focus is on supporting the Appletree tribe to sharpen their offerings and ensure a significant difference is made in the spaces within which they work. Travis likes to pioneer and has played a fundamental role in developing the Appletree Adventure offerings. Travis leads our partner brand, The Middle, which encourages and enables people to develop the resilience and grit needed to keep going through challenging environmental circumstances to reach ambitious goals.

When he is not consulting, facilitating or delivering a keynote, Travis is spending time with his wife Toni and their two girls Ella and Anna. He is passionate about Durban and loves to run the roads and trails in and around the city.

Sarah Shuttleworth

Sarah is passionate about partnering individuals and organisations as they navigate change, supporting leaders to create a culture where people can thrive and unlocking potential in everyone she works with.

As a registered industrial psychologist, Sarah’s career has been founded on 18 years of FMCG experience within the HR function within Unilever, Beiersdorf and SAB. For the past five years, she has brought her extensive knowledge and experience into her consulting role at Appletree, along with her accreditation as an Insights Discovery Personality Assessment Practioner. All of this, added to her passion for shaping organisational culture, has meant Sarah has been able to effectively partner clients within the Sales, Customer Service, Logistics and warehousing, Retail, FMCG and IT sectors, partnering organisations such as RCL Foods, ENCORE, Monteagle Consumer, FLASH, Derivco, Jonsson Workwear, IDS and African Habitat.

Sarah brings a work hard, play hard attitude to our tribe. When she is not getting stuck into her work, you will find her spending time with her husband Dave and their two girls, running or mountain biking on trails, or seeking out any adventure where she can explore what it means to live life and live it well.

Célia Senekal

Celia is passionate about seeing people thrive from the inside out and has a strong desire to see people overcome what has been holding them back so that they can live into their truth.

Célia’s love for people has meant that she has honed her skills as an influential facilitator and coach over the past eight years with Appletree. Following her studies and a research masters in Psychology, Célia has been active in her own learning and self-development. She’s become a Thoughtsmith’s accredited executive coach and completed numerous courses such as The Arbinger Institute ‘Anatomy of Peace’ and The Empowerment Dynamic’s ‘3 Vital Questions’. Célia plays a vital role in the Appletree team, developing content, training facilitators, adding depth to our coaching processes and ensuring that the quality of our workshops is felt by all who attend them.

When Célia is not alongside the flipchart or engaged in coaching, you will find her spending time raising her young family alongside her husband or booking her next travel experience to a location where a blockbuster movie was filmed (think a ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ trip to Iceland), attending a good dress party, and immersing herself in poetry.

Welile Xaba

Welile Xaba is a stakeholder engagement strategist and people development facilitator.

Welile, the Umlazi born and bred social change agent, drives social change initiatives and facilitates corporate-social relations. He is a community development champion and seeks to be a leading contributor in the building of a socially stable South Africa; one person at a time, one organisation at a time, one community at a time. Welile is AA1000 Standards accredited in Stakeholder Management and SETA accredited in Soft Skills Development Facilitation. His facilitation approach ensures people empowerment, productivity and a positive social change. Welile’s outlook on life and light hearted approach to his work means he adds a passion and vibrancy to the Appletree tribe, along with his 15 years’ experience in the empowerment arena. He is most passionate about youth empowerment, entry level staff engagements and more recently; mediating difficult discussions between businesses and their internal and external stakeholders who often see themselves as marginalised.

Welile enjoys time with his wife Nomfundo and their two little ones; Zuza (gift of life) and Zanenjabulo(bringer of joy). Welile has played chess and practiced martial arts professionally. His most recent plans are to train cross-fit and compete in triathlons.

Jana Niehaus

Jana believes in the humanising capacity of deep listening and storytelling, and feels passionate about creating and facilitating spaces where people can have transformative conversations.

Jana’s professional background is rooted in clinical psychology. Over the years, she has worked in a very diverse range of environments, including, public and private health sectors, the non-profit sector and a range of organisations. She has facilitated a wide range of conversations, workshops and experiences ranging from spiritual development, trauma, stress and health awareness, emotional intelligence, self-leadership, leadership development, as well as diversity and inclusivity work, which is a core interest for Jana. Jana brings a depth to the Appletree tribe given her commitment to curiosity. We benefit from her exploration around how we as human beings can embrace our diversity and create inclusive communities in which people can truly feel they belong. Jana plays an active role in both the Daring Africa and STORY Sessions partner brands.

Jana is no stranger to running marathons, and can often be found navigating the Durban streets on foot – a city she and her husband Ampie have integrated intentionally. She is passionate about becoming more attentive to the collective story our city, country and, ultimately, the world is authoring through taking courageous, compassionate and imaginative action.

Gary Blair

Gary is passionate about motivating people to lead and live better than they did yesterday.

Gary holds a Masters in Organisational Leadership from Regent University in Virginia, USA, and has over 12 years’ experience in facilitating transformational learning experiences for leaders in the private and social sectors. A career highlight has been the four years he spent at international NGO, Bridges for Peace, running learning and leadership development programs for cross-cultural volunteer groups. This work resulted in speaking engagements on four continents. Given his experience in engaging a diverse range of communities in his role as a facilitator and teacher, Gary brings a gift of communicating content to small and large groups to Appletree. His nature is such that he can lift a room and bring a light-hearted nature to exploring deep topics which catalyse change.

Gary is a new Father, having recently brought young Judah into the world alongside his wife Teraza. Gary has a love for running and can often be found running the urban areas or finding time to head to the trails. If not on the road, he is in the ocean given his passion for spearfishing.

Carey-Lee Gale

Carey is passionate about enabling others to do what they do best.

Carey started her career in the media world, working for Atoll Media as the publications manager for well-known magazines, Zigzag, Blunt and Saltwater Girl. Following her time at Atoll Media, Carey headed to London where she entered into the unique role of being a teacher’s assistant to autistic children, a role which suits her caring and supportive demeanour. Upon return, Carey joined Appletree playing a contract administrative role which has grown and developed over the past 15 years. While Carey is completely willing to remain in the ‘background’ her role here at Appletree is to be the ‘backbone’ of our operation. Her diverse skill set is such that Carey handles everything from financial administration, graphic design and journal development as well as ensuring that all our tribe members and our valued clients’ needs are looked after daily.

Carey, although small in stature, shoulders the responsibility of playing a key role not only the Appletree tribe but in her family alongside her husband Gareth as they parent two energetic boys, Matthew and Dylan. She has a passion for dancing and continues to develop herself in this area today.

Get to know our clients


Kirsty Rowley

People Executive, MRP Money

Appletree is a business focused on creating tailored learning experiences that connect our people to the business vision. Travis and the team are passionately committed to making a difference in the world of people development. They have a team of experienced facilitators that bring the power of story to their sessions. Appletree is a business with ‘heart’!

Melisa Hadenham

HR Director – Beiersdorf

Appletree is a one of kind organization, their leaders Travis and Liesel are not just amazing experienced facilitators but just all round awesome people. They truly bring themselves to their sessions with a lot of heart , empathy and humility , and they genuinely want to make a difference and see your employees grow.

Lara Boucher

HR Business Partner, Derivco

Sarah has a real grasp of our business and what makes Derivco great. This has helped Appletree customise a program that suits our unique needs. Each of the sessions facilitated are authentic in how they are run and include real and relevant examples that assist our leaders in processing and internalising their learnings.

Charmaine Boshoff

Group Learning and Development Manager, RCL Foods

We, the Learning & Development team here at RCL FOODS, have partnered with Appletree for a number of years now to help us deliver world class L&D solutions and related interventions. We find them highly effective in doing so with some of their key strengths being; the customisation of solutions to meet our specific business requirements; an unmatched highly interactive & engaging facilitation style; and the use of the latest learning techniques and methodology.