Dr Thea van der Westhuizen

Telephone +27 31 260 9111

+27 31 260 8148
Campus Westville
Building & Room
M Block – M 202, 2nd Floor


Thea graduated from the North West University with a Master’s Degree, cum laude and co-authored a book soon thereafter called “Guesthouse Management in South Africa” where her contribution was strategic planning and business development aspects. She relocated to Mossel Bay at age 23 where she opened two businesses. Tesen Tourism Planning provided strategic planning and business development services to the Garden Route Municipality and several other private clients. Its biggest business success was to develop a 4 story beachfront building owned by Petroleum South Africa into a Arts and Craft centre, which is still standing. The other business was Garden Route Tourism Academy which provided training to several hundreds of people within the tourism industry in the Garden Route.
Thea decided to further her career internationally and relocated to the Middle East, where some of her early professional achievements included:
  •  Innovating and developing a Human Resource performance appraisal system for one of the world’s largest private owned education systems, Sabis International
  •  Appointed as business development manager for a large property development group, Al Masah International where she was responsible for developing the Abu Dhabi branch from scratch, to a profitable business dealing with multi-million dollar accounts
After the global resection hit Dubai, Thea perused a career in Higher Education, where her professional achievements included several innovations:
  •  Appointed by Sheigh Hamdan as the best Business Lecturer within the Western Region of Abu Dhabi for her innovative approaches to take learning outside the classroom into the field of action
  • Part of a core team who innovated the first ever watersport festival within the Western region of Abu Dhabi, (a watersports festival in the desert!) attracting over 76 thousands visitors over a period of 2 weeks. The Al Gharbia Watersports festival still sustain up to this day
  •  Innovated the first ever shopping festival within the Western Region of Abu Dhabi hosted by women for women, which is still happening once a year
  •  Innovated the first ever Entrepreneurship conference held within the Western Region of Abu Dhabi
  •  Awarded by the British Ambassador together with her students as winners of the Lion’s Den Business Plan competition
After all these corporate action and visiting 22 countries over a period of 10 years, Thea felt “tired” and decided to take a break from business, relocated back to South Africa where she chose Durban to “settle down” .
Currently she is involved with:
  • Permanent Academic Staff Member at UKZN
  • Founded a social entrepreneurship program (SHAPE – Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship)
  •  Owns an international recognised Not for Profit Organisation, Paddle For the Planet, with presence in over 38 countries and formally supported by the International Canoe Federation and the International Dragon Boat Federation
Thea’s advice to prospective entrepreneurs is:
Follow your heart, act with passion and associate yourself with like-heated people. Be softly persistent and treat everybody, absolute everybody, with respect. People and their hearts are the cornerstones on which an economy is build.

Appointment Designation:
  • Lecturer
Academic Qualifications:
  • PhD UKZN
  • M.Com (cum laude). North West University
  •  B.BK Business Communication. North West University
Professional Qualifications:
  • Chartered Public Relations Professional (CPRP). Registered with PRISA
  • Regional and Local Economic Development: Practices and procedures. 2013 
  • Requirements for continuing education. CITA (Commission of International and Trans-Regional Accreditation). 2008. 
  • Accredited Assessor and Moderator. South Cape College, South Africa. ETDP/ SETA. 2003. 

Awards, Distinctions And Fellowships
  •  Best Youth Development Program for SHAPE. KZN Young Achievers Awards. 2014
  •  Best public speaker and presenter. AHI – Amanzimtoti. 2014
  •  Lions Den Business Plan Competition. Supervision of students who were awarded by the British Ambassador, British Business Group and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Al Ameri Award for best Business Faculty in Madinat Zayed/ Ruwais Colleges. Presented by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan.2011
  •  South African Colsulate General. Appointed as deputy warden for South African Citizens living int the United Arab Emirate’s Regions of Sharjah, Ajman and Al Hamriya. 2008. 

  • Mossel Bay Chamber of Commerce – Community Development.2006. 
  •  Nominated as part of Board of Directors for South African Community Radio Station, Rainbow FM. 2005. 
  • Nominated by the Afrikaanse Handels Instituut to participate in a group of experts who research travel, leisure and recreation patterns of new tourism markets emerging in Southern Africa. 2005. 

Undergraduate Courses Currently Teaching:
  •  Corporate Strategy
Postgraduate Courses:
  • Advanced Global Business 
Research Interests:
  • Socio-economic development
  • Entrepreneurial heatsets and mindsets
  • Deep learning
  • Participative practices
  • Living Theories
Recent Publications: 
  • Van der Westhuizen, T; Saayman, M. 2008. Key Success Factors for developing and managing guesthouses: A case of a touristic town. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 29(2):121-130.
  • Slabbert, E; Saayman, M & van der Westhuizen, T. 2003. Guesthouse Development in South Africa. (1st, 3nd and 3rd edition). 
  • Van der Westhuizen, T. 2002. Key Success factors for developing and managing a guesthouse. 

Recent Papers Delivered
  • Entrepreneurship development in Al Gharbia, Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Business Partner Day. 2012
  •  Effective teaching practices for Business Project subjects. Higher Colleges of Technology’s annual Business Conference. 2011. 
  •  How to write a business plan and get finance. Mossel Bay Chamber of Commerce monthly assembly. 2006. 
  • Entrepreneurship – how to start and sustain your own small business. Mossel Bay Chamber of Commerce monthly assembly. 2006. 
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