Tatum Oppelt – Graduate 2011 

My name is Tatum Oppelt, I am the Managing Executive for the International Hotel School Port Elizabeth campus. I graduated from Stenden in 2011 with a bachelor’s in hospitality management. Since graduation I have had quite the journey in The Hospitality Industry.

I started my career before graduation as a Revenue Intern for the Winchester Mansion Hotel in Sea Point. I worked there for 6 months and specialized in Revenue, Banqueting and Events Management. During my time there I realized that I had a love for planning and budgeting and my career in Events took off.

Upon completion I started at the new opening Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth as the Banqueting and Events Supervisor. After one year I was noticed by the Director of Sales and Marketing, she promoted me to a Sales and Marketing Executive. I worked on all the large events hosted by the hotel and managed client relations for the DOS

I was then offered an opportunity in Cape Town as a Sales Agent for Ilios Travel Agency based in the Bay Hotel, Camps Bay. My position here was short lived when I was Head Hunted to Dollar Thrifty Car Rental as a senior sales agent. I enjoyed learning new things in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry and stayed here for two years.

I then received a call for a Senior Sales Manager position with Gearhouse International Events and was based at The Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town. I worked on events such as Ultra Music Festival and the huge Annual Sanlam International Conference. Whilst I truly enjoyed this experience and all the events that came with it, a previous Manager and colleague of mine from The Radisson Blu Hotel chain offered me a position in the Middle East that I could not turn down.

I relocated to the Middle East and was employed as the Cluster Assistant Events Manager and Sales Incentives Manager for the Radisson Blu Hotel Yas Island, Abu Dhabi and Parkinn by Radisson Yas Island. I was responsible for managing 70 internal and external events daily as the hotel had a huge outside event catering department. I coordinated the Formula 1 Grand Prix Abu Dhabi, Ferrari Race Week, Mubadala International Tennis Tournament and Abu Dhabi Dessert Challenge (racing) to name a few.

During my time in the Middle East, Covid hit, all events were brought to a stop. I then returned to SA and while I was home, The International Hotel School approached me for the Managing Executive Position to open their new campus in Port Elizabeth.

I am now involved in educating young individuals in the industry that I love. I have 12 years’ experience in this field, and it has been truly wonderful!

This is truly a growing industry and if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams in a short space of time!!

Best of luck with your careers and shout if you need any guidance!


Nomalotshwa Mavundla – 2022 May Graduate 

“I attended Epworth High school in KZN and after my first degree decided that my passion lies in Hospitality Management. I enjoyed the complete contrast in the style of education, while my first degree helped shape and form my way of thinking and interacting with people, Stenden’s methods assisted in helping me apply everything practically. It was the balance I truly needed.
Real World Learning is one of the features that keeps Stenden unique and prepares students for industry. I graduated in May 2022 and I have recently started my own business, which specializes in all things hospitality. I am currently busy with our biggest property to date which is set to open in October 2022!”

Kyle Emslie – 2022 May Graduate 

“Hi, I am from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. I went to school at Elsen Academy and matriculated in 2018.
I started my Stenden journey in 2019, studying for a B.Com Degree in Hospitality Management. During my third year, I completed my internship at The Makokola retreat, Mangochi, Malawi in the Food and Beverage department in March 2022. I learnt many skills during my time during the internship and had the experience to explore the warm welcoming heart of Africa and many unforgettable memories have been made during my internship in Malawi.
I am currently doing my yachting course in Cape Town after which I will be pursuing employment in the yachting industry in Europe.”

JP Lombard – Le Petit Manoir, Franschhoek

Completing his final year of studies in 2013, JP graduated with a BCom degree at Stenden South Africa.

After many years watching his Dad run many successful restaurants, JP’s enthusiasm for the hospitality industry continued to grow.

With perseverance, dedication and a love for cooking, JP will bring this to all aspects overseeing the marketing, photography and bookings side of things at Le Petit Manoir.

Article taken from the Le Petit Manoir website

Frank Heyneke – Le Petit Manoir, Franschhoek

After graduating in Hospitality Management at Stenden South Africa, Frank gained his wealth of experience working in the casino and entertainment industry.

Having travelled to over 72 countries as Guest Relations Manager for Princess Cruises, Frank’s worldwide exposure to different cultures, cuisines, hotels and restaurants enhances his expertise as Manager at Le Petit Manoir. Frank will oversee the front of house and restaurant.

Article taken from the Le Petit Manoir website
Le Petit Manoir

Rutendo Mhaka – Elephant Hills Resort, Zimbabwe

My name is Rutendo Mhaka and I am from Zimbabwe. I completed high school at Dominican Convent High School (Harare) and have always had a passion for Hospitality from a very young age. This encouraged me to pursue a tertiary education in a Hospitality related field.

I learnt about Stenden South Africa through the internet when I was looking for a university that offers a degree in Hospitality Management. I was looking for a challenge, a different approach to learning, a diverse curriculum that offers all round skills and Stenden fit my criteria. Despite the size of the campus, in a small town called Port Alfred, Stenden South Africa is welcoming, diversified, amazing, with friendly lecturers and cool classrooms. Campus activities are hosted at least once a module to keep the campus spirit high, such as Top Chef, Christmas in May and the Potjie Competition to name a few, something which one looked forward to.

I would recommend Stenden South Africa to any future hotelier, entrepreneur or partner looking for a challenge and seeking growth. It gives you the opportunity to not only learn on one campus, but 4 different other campuses across the world, which are Bali, Thailand, Qatar and the Netherlands, which is the main campus. One is also exposed to different global events such as Hoteliers Summit where one can network and benchmark themselves. I did my attachment at Elephant Hills Resort in Zimbabwe and got a job straight after attachment.

Melissa Timms – TrevPAR World Intern

TrevPAR World is very proud to announce that Melissa Timms has joined the team as TrevPAR World’s newest Intern, from Stenden South Africa Melissa will be spending 6 months with TrevPAR World learning the ins and outs of Revenue Management.

Melissa has recently finished her studies in International Hospitality Management with a minor in Strategic Revenue Management.

Derek Martin the Founder and CEO of TrevPAR World says: “I met Melissa whilst delivering a guest lecture at Stenden South Africa. Her keen interest in Revenue Management as well as e-commerce made her stand out from the other students in the class and we are really excited to be part of the start of her career in the Hospitality Industry.”

Melissa will be a key support role within TrevPAR World and assist us in data research, data analysis, trend building as well as social media management.

We would like to wish Melissa all the best on her new Revenue Journey and we will most certainly be following her career closely.

Article taken from the TrevPAR World website
TrevPAR World

Eden Grant – Manager, RevenueInsights

After a great time at Stenden and particularly enjoying strategy with Dr v. Ach (I’m a big picture thinker!), I was a naive and ambitious 20 something-year-old who thought she knew what was up and moved to Joburg:)

From being trained up particularly in data analysis in the hotel sector with an incredible ahead-of-its-time exec team, I became particularly able to create and launch at first tactical pricing tools which grew into a group revenue management job that developed and deployed strategy.

I left my first company, and I was offered work with bigger brands and other 5 star properties but decided it was time for a greater change. I had changed personally and that needed to reflect professionally. That being, I embarked on further studies and I am currently am completing a BTH (a bachelor of theology), which is essentially a degree preparing someone to become a pastor. I think a part of my concern for people’s wellbeing definitely originated already in my hospitality journey.

At the same time, I knew that my skill sets were sought after in the small and medium range sector – particularly non-branded properties. These enterprises have great teamwork, vision and people orientation and I could now offer a modified approach to their business management needs, particularly through revenue management strategy & training, that could be adapted to these property types.

So I started a consulting company about 4 – 5 years ago now, RevenueInsights, which specialises in niche smaller properties trying to enter into the revenue management game! The ‘big dogs’ have the cash flow for systems, but a lot of African hospitality is nonbranded and I am patriotic enough to enjoy serving this way. One of the teams I work with has also been involved in launching women into revenue management at a solid pace, training up analysts and revenue managers – #gogirls.

One thing I’d encourage is that students are wise in seeing this opportunity! One take away I recognised early on was that I tend to actually nett more, personally, than some bigger property managers because I manage my own costs and run my own business. I’d urge everyone to fight the need to be ‘famous’ in their industry and pursue purpose and integral work that empowers and serves in unique but often overlooked areas. Early on, I decided to do things ‘on my own terms’ and not chase prestige which has paid off. This was a big move personally but very liberating. We are far too defined by the thoughts and systems of others which robs us of being unique and taking risks.

The other critical learning from my life in work and generally is the need for integrity in relationships and the strength of good relationships in business. A good name and reputation is hard worked for but quickly ruined, so we should first think about our personal principles – what we choose to live by – and then honour that in both private and public endeavours.

So, essentially today I manage RevenueInsights and take on work that I can manage well while studying towards a degree. I have become a more ferocious reader because I am more aware than ever of my personal blind spots and ignorance.

Whether we are working in hotels, banks or at Steers  – we should pursue excellence without crushing others, we should capitalise on business opportunity without diminishing peoples personhood and we should challenge ourselves, at all times, to be a servant to all.

Thulani Xhali – Director of Learning Companies, Stenden Hotel Management School, Netherlands

Mr. Thulani Xhali, a humble, authentic, easy-going and experienced member of Stenden Hotel Management School, who is always ready to surprise you with a joke. Thulani joined the Stenden HMS family on the 4th of January 2016 – he remembers it as if it was yesterday. When arriving in the Netherlands he stepped straight into a snowstorm, not exactly something he was used to in his home country, South Africa.

Like each and everyone of us, Thulani had moments in his life where difficult decisions lay before him and he had to make choices regarding his future. One of these tough decisions was having to choose between going to university or to enter a cricket academy, as he was a talented player.

Needless to say, he made his decision for university and kept cricket as a hobby. Initially wanting to study Business Sciences, as he was always interested in numbers, statistics and finances, Thulani decided he would rather go for a “gap year” and fill it with the Hospitality Management study at Stenden South Africa. After one module Thulani was captivated. Hospitality had swept him off his feet, making it clear that he was meant to be in this industry. He never went back to Business Sciences and continued his path, with a Masters-Degree in Leeuwarden. Prior to calling Leeuwarden his “home”, Thulani lived in South Africa, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Thulani is happy and passionate with the position he is currently holding as the tasks are diverse and, in his words, “too complicated to try and explain.” All you need to know is that he is in charge of sticking to financial and law related rules and restrictions, besides him having to “shake a lot of hands and kiss babies.” Furthermore, he is thankful for living in a progressive country like the Netherlands, where he can enjoy a typical pea-soup, smart traffic-lights and some innovative grocery shopping. Another very interesting fact is that Thulani has just began his path on being a genuine Dutch citizen, as he started riding a bike just 5 weeks ago. 

Apart from his job at Stenden HMS, Mr. Xhali is a sports enthusiast and enjoys playing golf in the summer and some football in the winter. He is also the goalkeeper of the “Black Flamingo F.C.”, which is made up of NHL-Stenden students and is sponsored by Stenden Hotel. Moreover, Thulani is a family man and loves to spend as much of his spare time with his wife. If he could, he would spend his days in a Manhattan Penthouse, never settle, travel and do what he loves. 

At the end, Thulani had a great piece of advice for each and every young Hotello: “Do good work, deliver on time and don’t be a …” – if you want to hear the rest, you should ask him the next time you see him, as the final part of the sentence will make you laugh, but it is not very social media friendly.

Derek Martin – CEO of TrevPAR

Derek Martin, the visionary behind TrevPAR World Group Holdings, boasts over 18 years of extensive hospitality experience. Throughout his career, Derek has worked with renowned brands such as Pan Pacific Hotel Group, Carlson Rezidor, Leading Hotels of the World, and IHG.

As the founder and driving force behind TrevPAR World Group Holdings, Derek has focused on harnessing the power of data-driven processes to optimize and maximize profits for the hospitality industry. Managing a portfolio of over 5000 rooms across 58 cities in 15 countries, TrevPAR World Group Holdings specializes in assisting guest houses, bed & breakfasts, and both local and international branded hotels in achieving their full profit potential.

With a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Hospitality Management from Stenden University, Derek’s passion for Revenue Management has been the catalyst for his successful career. His expertise in this field propelled him to hold senior property-based and corporate Revenue Management roles with regional and international brands over a span of 18 years.

Driven by a realization of the talent gap in revenue and data analytics in Africa, Derek returned to his roots in South Africa to establish TrevPAR World. This global consulting firm specializes in Total Revenue Management, offering services such as daily commercial management, revenue management, sales and marketing management, and social media solutions. Today, TrevPAR World with five global offices serves over 200 hotels in 58 cities across 15 countries, catering to a broad spectrum of clients ranging from large international corporate brands to independent hotels and lodges.

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Derek actively contributes to the hospitality industry’s development. He serves on the Stenden Advisory Board. Derek Martin’s commitment to the field of Revenue Management has also led him to establish a Revenue School and partner with Stenden South Africa in developing the continent’s first-ever Revenue Management degree program.

Currently based in South Africa, Derek continues to shape the future of the industry through his expertise, innovation, and dedication to excellence.

David Hutchinson – Managing Director of ATS Group.

After completing my studies at the then EISS (Educational Institute for Service Studies) which is now known as Stenden South Africa, my lecturer Simon Wright arranged that I complete my internship at The Edward Hotel in Port Elizabeth. I was recruited as a Duty Manager, lucky for me, I had worked throughout my studies in the evenings and holidays to fund my degree therefore Stenden acknowledged this and shortened my internship to three months. Once these were completed I was permanently recruited to Food & Beverage Manager and Deputy General Manager of the hotel. This was quite a daunting task to be running such a large hotel, but the times were good and we all had a lot of fun. For the full story click here.

Sean McNab – Cluster Revenue Manager at Hilton, Dubai

A Young Man’s Journey in Hospitality

Sean McNab

Sean holds extensive qualifications within the hospitality management field. He completed various internships in order to inculcate his knowledge.

Prior to joining the team at Riviera on Vaal Hotel and Country Club to complete his 6 month industrial placement for his BCom degree in Hospitality Management at Stenden South Africa, Sean took the opportunity to board one of the Seaborne Cruise liners in the position of a waiter for 3 months. Sean then travelled back to his hometown in Namibia where he took on the position of Restaurant Manager at NICE Restaurant and Bar in Windhoek.

After 7 months in Windhoek, Sean joined the prestigious Hilton Hotel Group at their Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa as an Elevator intern. He then transferred to Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa in Dubai as the Elevator General Manager Trainee for the Middle East and Africa. Here he was exposed to all the departments within the hotel management business. After 10 months he was promoted to  the Cluster Assistant Revenue Manager of 2 Hilton Hotels namely, Hilton Ras Al Khaimah and Hilton Al Hamra Golf & Beach Resort. Sean currently holds the position of Cluster Revenue Manager at Hilton Dubai – United Arab Emirates.

Sinazo Mazantsana – General Manager, Road Lodge Pietermaritzburg

Stenden South Africa Alumni, Sinazo Mazantsana, has recently been appointed as the new General Manager of Road Lodge Pietermaritzburg, after having filled the same position at Road Lodge Kimberley for the past 9 months.

Sinazo graduated in 2012 from Stenden South Africa with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Hospitality Management. After graduating, Sinazo started her career in hospitality as an Assistant Lodge Manager and later progressed to Lodge Manager at the stunning 4 Star Lalibela Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Sinazo then worked as a Catering Manager for Tsafrika Catering Solutions until she began her journey with the City Lodge Hotel Group as an ADDP Senior Assistant Manager in 2015.

In just under 4 years, Sinazo has worked her way up to her current appointment as the General Manager of Road Lodge Pietermaritzburg.

We are proud of Sinazo and her achievements and wish her great success for her future endeavours.