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Hospitality Management student wins big at 2024 MEA Future Leaders Challenge in Dubai

Kamohelo Hoeane, a recent graduate from the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), emerged victorious as part of the winning team at the prestigious 2024 MEA Future Leaders Challenge (MEA FLC) held in Dubai. The event, hosted at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management from January 23 to 26, 2024, showcased emerging talent in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Kamohelo Hoeane MEA FLC 2024

Selected alongside her peers Zinhle Mkhabela and Siyabonga Ngomane through a rigorous internal process at STH, Kamohelo joined 15 cross-institutional groups comprising final-year students from 23 institutions across the MEA region. The challenge emphasised collaboration over competition, urging students to work together to tackle industry-related issues.

Under the guidance of faculty members Akhona Melani and Erica Sao Joao, students underwent extensive preparation, dedicating weekly hours to an online educational programme covering personal, organisational, and leadership topics from September to December 2023.

This year’s challenge tasked teams with devising a digital solution for training and retaining the next generation of hospitality talent. Kamohelo’s team presented a comprehensive mobile and web-based platform integrating gamification and artificial intelligence to address the challenge effectively.

Kamohelo’s success marks the second consecutive win for STH since the initiative’s inception in 2022, highlighting the University’s commitment to nurturing industry-ready talent.

In parallel with the challenge, Professor Diane Abrahams, STH’s Director and a member of the MEA School Directors Alliance Board, participated in the launch of the Alliance. Comprising 24 members, the Alliance aims to align curriculum output with industry needs and nurture partnerships to enhance internship and job opportunities for students.

“Kamohelo, Zinhle and Siyabonga represent a generation of innovative, confident and inspiring young leaders,” said Professor Diane Abrahams, STH’s Director.

Prof Abrahams concluded: “In addition to Kamohelo’s team securing top honours, Zinhle’s team made it to the semi-final stage. This underscores the high calibre of students at STH, who, with increased support from the industry through internships and job placements, have the potential to drive innovation and leadership in the hospitality sector. We’re thrilled to have STH represented in the MEA School Directors Alliance, as we aim to catalyse positive industry change by connecting talented individuals with career growth opportunities across the MEA region and beyond.”

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