Hospitality management student part of the winning team at the 2024 MEA Future Leaders Challenge

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Kamohelo Hoeane, Hospitality management
Kamohelo Hoeane. (Source: University of Johannesburg’s School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH))

Kamohelo Hoeane, who completed her Bachelor of Hospitality Management qualification at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) in 2023, was part of the winning team at the 2024 MEA Future Leaders Challenge (MEA FLC). 

The live event for the finals, was held at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, from 23-26 January 2024. The MEA FLC is a platform that aims to empower future talent in the tourism and hospitality sector. 

Following an internal process amongst STH 3rd year students, Kamohelo, alongside, Zinhle Mkhabela and Siyabonga Ngomane, was selected to participate in the challenge. There were 15 cross-institutional groups, comprising final-year students from 23 tourism and hospitality schools from the MEA region. The motto of the challenge is ‘community over competition’, with students being encouraged to collaborate to solve an industry-related problem.

Akhona Melani (WIL Coordinator) and, Erica Sao Joao (STH lecturer), explained that to prepare for the live event, the students were required to dedicate at least an hour and a half weekly, to take part in an online educational programme from September to December 2023. The programme covered topics such as personal, organisational and leadership sessions to assist the future leaders to maximise their potential. 

This year’s challenge required the groups to develop a working digital solution for the training and retaining of the next generation of tourism and hospitality talent. The winning team presented a mobile and web-based solution that incorporated elements such as gamification and artificial intelligence to address the challenge at hand. Since the inception of the initiative in 2022, Kamohelo is the second student from the STH to be part of the winning team. 

On the sidelines of the MEA FLC, STH Director, Prof Diane Abrahams who serves on the Board of the MEA School Directors Alliance, participated in the launch of the MEA School Directors Alliance. The 24-member School Directors alliance has a mission to influence curriculum output aligned with industry needs and the aspirations of the upcoming generation. 

The alliance aims to conduct relevant research to drive innovation, sustainability, and excellence, fostering partnerships with industry to increase internships, work placements and graduate placements. 

“Kamohelo, Zinhle and Siyabonga represent a generation of innovative, confident and inspiring young leaders who represented the University very well in Dubai,” said Prof Diane Abrahams. 

“Apart from Kamohelo’s group taking the top honours, we also had Zinhle’s team reaching the semi-final stages. This really goes on to demonstrate the calibre of students that we have at the STH, who, with further support from industry in the form of internship and job opportunities, can take the industry forward as tomorrow’s innovators, and leaders. We are also excited to have the STH represented as MEA School Directors of the School Alliance. Ultimately, our goal is to influence positive change within the industry, ensuring that we link the right talent with the career-growth opportunities that are available in the MEA region and beyond,” Prof Abrahams concluded. 

STH Team at the MEA FLC 2024
STH Team at the MEA FLC 2024. (Source: University of Johannesburg’s School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH))

University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH)

Visit: www.uj.ac.za/faculties/college-of-business-and-economics/schools/school-of-tourism-and-hospitality-sth

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