“A candle loses nothing by lighting another.”

Paulina Ngubeni


Tourism & Hospitality

Organisation / Company

Tshwane University of Technology


Paulina Ngubeni, 33, is a New Generation of Academics Programme (nGap) lecturer in the department of tourism management at Tshwane University of Technology. She is a work integrated learning (WIL) coordinator responsible for placing and monitoring students for their experiential learning. With the guidance of Paulina, students who benefit from WIL address industry challenges through entrepreneurship as it offers a unique platform to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Paulina is an alumnus of Haaga-Helia University’s school of applied sciences and vocational teacher training. She holds a master’s in tourism and hospitality management from the University of Johannesburg and is pursuing a PhD. Her research intends to develop a framework for the casino sector that can be used to empower women in host communities from corporate social responsibility spending.

For Paulina, her biggest motivation is witnessing students with a similar background enrol in higher learning institutions to set new standards of excellence. She is a member of the Rotaract Club of Johannesburg and a recent project was a renovation at an early childhood development centre in Nyavini in the Eastern Cape.


  • Vocational Teacher Training, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
  • Masters in Tourism and Hospitality Management, University of Johannesburg
  • BA Tourism Development Honours, University of Johannesburg
  • BA Tourism Development, University of Johannesburg


I was appointed as the work integrated learning coordinator for our department in 2022 and in 2023 we signed one of our biggest Memorandum of Understanding as the tourism department at Tshwane University of Technology. The MOU was uniquely established to expose our students to entrepreneurship through a business incubator programme where they will fulfil their Work Integrated Learning (WIL) requirements. The aim of the programme is to ensure that students receive the necessary training for WIL and, second, addresses critical industry challenges through entrepreneurship as it offers a unique platform for our students to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems in the tourism sector. The programme empowers students to think creatively and strategically where they gain hands-on experience in identifying industry gaps, developing business plans and launching sustainable tourism businesses through the support and access of qualified industry experts.

This practical approach not only enhances their academic learning but also prepares them for the demands of the tourism industry. The first cohort of 2023 graduated from the programme and some have found employment in the industry whilst others have founded and registered their businesses. My biggest lesson from this programme is the significance of building a strong network in the industry.


I have always had the privilege of having mentors from high school, my teachers were my mentors and have been instrumental in ensuring that I further my studies after completing my matric. They ensured that they positioned and exposed me to opportunities as they could see I had become despondent. I then got mentored by Dr Peta Thomas at the University of Johannesburg when I was completing my undergraduate studies, she has been influential in how I ended up taking a career in academia. Through her mentorship, I learned the significance of compassionate leadership and inclusivity. Her teaching practice was grounded on empathy and kindness which made learning easy. She exposed me to various research projects she was leading and ensured that I was active in community engagement.

In 2015, she established the Rotaract Club of Johannesburg which was made up of students from UJ, of which I have been a member since its inception. Not only was she my mentor, but she also supervised my honours and master’s research projects and her approach to academic supervision has been pivotal in shaping how today I supervise my students.