Born in Windhoek, Renée’s early years included family trips throughout Namibia, followed by early schooling in Germany. Returning with her Canadian mother and South African father, Renée completed further schooling in Camps Bay before the family relocated to the West Rand where she matriculated without any distinction whatsoever.
Renée then traveled to Canada where she initially pursued studies in engineering, before returning to South Africa to enter the world of Marketing & Advertising. Her first job was at the prestigious Ogilvy & Mather, Rightford Searle-Tripp & Makin agency where she soon progressed to Print Production Manager with an extensive portfolio of high-end clients. Her successful life in advertising was however upended when a chance encounter led to a helicopter flight with a friend of a friend.
Renée promptly turned her back on the lucrative advertising industry, cashed in all her assets and threw her heart and soul into pursuing a helicopter pilots’ license. That done, she quickly built on this achievement by becoming a successful instructor pilot.
Her pilot career included travel throughout Southern Africa and beyond, including the last Africa Safari Rally in Kenya. Shortly after the rally, Renée joined Eskom’s aviation subsidiary, Sapphire Air, where she became the first woman in Africa to be qualified to conduct helicopter live-line power line maintenance operations. Her stellar achievements as a woman finding success in a male-dominated industry during this period were recognized in articles in the Sunday Times, and Oprah magazine. During her tenure with Eskom, Renée worked throughout Southern Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and Madagascar.
After her time at Sapphire Air ended, Renée moved to the challenging world of Helicopter Emergency Medical Services. Initially serving as an air ambulance pilot with Netcare 911 in Johannesburg, she relocated to Virginia Airport in Durban where she helped establish the Netcare 911 base providing both air ambulance services and managing the national Surf Rescue helicopter service. During her time at Netcare Renée was again recognized for serving as the pilot in command of the first all-female air ambulance crew in South Africa.
In 2007 Renée and her partner relocated to Canada, initially settling in Vancouver. During their 12-year stay, Renée worked in the logging, tourism, exploration, and survey industries, before specializing in a career in airborne law enforcement. Initially instrumental in the launch of the Winnipeg Police Service helicopter unit, she later served with the Calgary Police Service, as well as the contract takeover of the York Regional Police Service by Canadian Helicopters Ltd. Renée’s commitment to aviation drove an interest in improving aviation industry safety practices. She is a qualified aircraft accident investigator, as well as an ISO 9001 auditor. Together with her husband, she formed an aviation safety consulting company that has conducted aviation safety projects in 62 countries.
Her excellence in the management of complex aviation projects included work as the aviation supervisor for an international oil major in the remote Canadian high arctic and northern Greece.
In 2018 Renée and her partner relocated to Mozambique and she assumed full control of the ongoing international portfolio of consulting operations.
When it became apparent that aviation globally was in the direst straits due to the ongoing pandemic, Renée turned her thoughts to a career beyond aviation. A lifelong dream to own a coffee shop was within reach, and Cape Town the perfect city to pursue that dream. A chance visit to Shift Espresso Bar in Green Point helped to solidify her vision - fantastic coffee served with unassuming but delicious meals in one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Shift Espresso Bar Glengariff opened for trade at the height of the pandemic, and thanks to the loyal support of the amazing Sea Point community has gone from strength to strength. Renée is the driving force and bright personality that makes the Shift Espresso Bar in Sea Point the welcoming and inclusive space it is. We’re incredibly proud to have her in the Shift Espresso Bar family.
Monday – Friday 06:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday 06:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday 07:00AM - 3:00PM
229 Main Road
Three Anchor Bay