By Tebogo Tabane

Four students from the Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Management Sciences, Kabelo Modikwe (Tourism); Khomotso Mohuba (Tourism); Witness Mphogo (Hospitality); and Shaun Thole (Hospitality) contributed significantly to taking their teams to new heights at the Middle East and Africa Future Leaders Challenge (MEA FLC). The Challenge was hosted by Hilton Worldwide Services Limited at the Emirates School of Hospitality in Dubai from 22 to 27 January.

The MEA Future Leaders Challenge (MEA FLC) is an initiative established in 2023, that creates a community to tackle future challenges in the hospitality industry and aspires to develop the MEA Region as the best talent developer in the world. The platform brings together industry leaders, students and universities; and focuses on game changing collaboration and initiatives between these stakeholders. The aim is to enhance the quality of education, talent development and human capital focus. The overarching goal is to attract and inspire talent to choose hospitality and tourism as their choice of career.

According to Dr Portia Sifolo, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Tourism Management and Guardian Lecturer for the TUT students, more than 22 leading Hospitality and Tourism Schools were represented at the Challenge. Each School/Faculty was represented by four students, a guardian lecturer and the Dean of the School/Faculty.

“Since it was not an inter-university encounter, students were assigned to form part of multinational teams. Based on the spirit of ‘community over competition’, the 18 teams were tasked to solve a problem of their choice in the tourism and hospitality sector that incorporates AI innovation,” said Dr Sifolo.

Proud TUT students pictured with Dr Portia Sifolo and Dr Edgar Nesamvuni (in the middle).

“In the semi-finals on 24 January, during which projects were presented to the school directors, our students experienced their first success. The four teams to which TUT students were assigned, ended in the Top Six. TUT students Kabelo and Kgomotso were once again in the top two teams after the final presentations were made to the Multinational Board of FLC on Friday 26 January. During the announcement, team 14 was declared the overall winners. Kabelo played an integral role in the success of the team,” added Dr Sifolo.

“The following nationalities were represented in the winning team: Morocco; Egypt; two representatives from South Africa; United Arab Emirates; and Seychelles. Being part of the winning team was an exciting and a proud moment. It bears testament to the fact that TUT really produces future-ready graduates, who contributed to conceptualising projects incorporating AI together with international students whom they met online from September 2023 and physically only met for the first on 23 January 2024,” said Dr Sifolo.

Dr Edgar Nesamvuni, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, said the Faculty is proud to be associated with the four winners.

In preparation for FLC 2025, preliminary rounds will be held in Sandton in May 2024. TUT will once again select four students to participate in the challenge.

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