Thea van der Westhuizen

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My Background

My reputable standing within the discipline at UKZN, nationally and internationally is supported by my a) current appointment as the Academic Leader for the Management and Entrepreneurship Discipline, b) democratically elected by scholarly peers as the national chairperson of EDHE Community of Practice for Entrepreneurship Learning and Teaching (link) and c) principal investigator and institutional lead for the Innovation for African Universities network partner initiative. I participate comprehensively in academic community activities, including membership of the South African Institute of Management (SAIM), Public Relations & Communications Management (PRISA) – certified as a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner, and the International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM).

In addition to programme development, my Tourism Academy work included negotiating partnerships with Garden Route businesses, submitting their Workplace Skills Plans, claiming Skills Development Levies on their behalf and grant administration for host businesses, service providers and learners.

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Relocating to the United Arab Emirates, I held a variety of positions including Head of the Primary Department (2008) and Head of Teacher Assessment and Institutional Research Programme (2007 – 2008) at SABIS International, Dubai and team leader for business programmes at the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi (2009 – 2012). Other projects included the first UAE Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Al Gharbia [desert!] Watersports Festival and the ground-breaking Madinat Zayed Shopping Festival organised by Arab women students.

My background in the commercial aspects of education and research shaped my world view for the successful initiation, development and leadership of many action-orientated student programmes in the United Arab Emirates. The added scope of systems thinking was introduced when I saw in practice that all-around support is necessary to successfully develop students’ learning and prepare them for the world of work.

This background in the commercial aspects of education and research shaped my thinking when I accepted the academic position at UKZN in 2013.

My Fields

Learning & Teaching

Research & Innovation

Leadership & University Admin

Academic Citizenship & Community engagement

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Honours, Awards and Recognition for Scholarly Activities, Including Research and Teaching

Such recognition has mostly been for research-led community engagement projects relating interdisciplinary to entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial behaviour. These include recognition by the British Ambassador and Arab His Highness Sheikh during my appointment at the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi; UKZN/UTLO Teaching and Learning Innovation and Quality Enhancement; International Business School Americas; KZN Young Achievers and my most outstanding award was winning the Innovative Youth Incubator Award in Washington DC in 2018 against a strong international field of scholarly/academic competitors (link). I was elected as Chairperson for the Community of Practice for Entrepreneurship Learning and Teaching (formerly known as CoP academic entrepreneurship) from 2017 to 2020 and re-elected for the period 2021 to 2023 (link).

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Thea van der Westhuizen
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