Why I Abandoned University Education For Kenya Utalii College

Mr. Paul Chaulo, the Founder and CEO of Treat House Resort, Rongo, Migori County says despite resistance from his father, he dropped the degree course at Egerton University and followed his heart to Kenya Utalii College.

Tell us briefly how you joined the College. How did you settle for a career in Tourism and Hospitality? Did you have other options previously? 

I joined Kenya Utalii College (KUC) by default. I had an interest in the College but was then not quite sure about the career choice. During that time, only a few privileged high school students were able to join campus and I happened to be among the lucky few who got University admission. I was admitted to Egerton University to pursue Bachelor of Arts General. By then, joining and attaining University education was not just the pride of the family, but the entire community. When I shared my interest in joining Kenya Utalii College as opposed to enrolling for University education and becoming a graduate, my father was disappointed. For his sake, I joined Egerton University in 1997, hoping that I would change the course to Agribusiness Management but I was not successful. My mind fully reverted to KUC. I was keen on the 1998 intake and when the advert appeared in the dailies, I applied without hesitation. That is how my career life changed. I joined KUC in 1998 and I do not have any regrets. 

Tell us about your days in Kenya Utalii College – your experience with the lecturers, students, internships, events and exchange programs, as well as, the role they played in shaping your career and life as a whole? 

The transition from Egerton University to KUC threw me into a culture shock. At Egerton, one could go to the dining hall in any outfit. At KUC this could not happen; one had to be smartly dressed, with a tucked-in shirt and in shoes as opposed to slippers, the “bathroom shoes”.  At Egerton, I did not have to attend all the lectures but at KUC, attending every single class was mandatory and as if that was not enough, one could not afford to be late even for a single second. As a manager in the making, there was a way Management course students were expected to carry themselves around. You had to start defining your brand title while still a student. Some lessons that shaped the way I behave today were not necessarily learnt in class but through the College culture. I was given leadership roles such as being a class representative and also taking up the roles of a Chairman in the Institution’s Annual Food Festival. These responsibilities sharpened my managerial skills and equipped me with leadership qualities. My Head of Department then, Ms. Beatrice Makawiti, was supportive and always called us to offer advise on our role as leaders and as future managers. She inculcated in us morals and values including the Manager’s dress code, which she always insisted had to be a suit with matching accessories. These values and morals made us fit well in the industry during our internship programs.

What stood out the most for you at Kenya Utalii College? 

The culture. Remember, I had been to Egerton University and was comparing the two institutions. I noted the culture of time keeping, the dress code and cleanliness, which was not emphasized in my previous institution. 

Tell us about your career journey and success story. 

After graduating from KUC, I had three job offers. I got a job offer at the Sarova Stanley, Kengeles Restaurants, and the Serena Hotels where I had done my internship. My Choice was Serena, because I had been in their system during my internship. Apart from being in their system, Serena group of Hotels was perceived as a good employer. However, Serena delayed in giving us appointment letters and I briefly served at Kengeles in their new Yaya center branch, before being enrolled in the Serena Management training program. That was the beginning of my fulfilling career with the hotel Chain. I was posted to Kilaguni Serena where I served just for a few months before being promoted to a senior Assistant Manager at Amboseli; a position I served in for three years before being promoted to the now-defunct Samburu Serena Safari Lodge. After three years in that position, I was given a bigger portfolio in Serengeti Serena, Tanzania, where I served as the Manager, before being moved back to the prime property – the Mara Serena Safari lodge which turned out as my favorite working station. I served as the Mara Serena Manager for a record seven years before being released back to Tanzania as Deputy General Manager of Dar-es-Salaam Serena Hotel. My last working station with this company that I hold close to my heart was Zanzibar Serena Hotel, a prestigious history-ridden hotel, where I served as the General Manager. I always said to myself that I could not leave Serena to serve another employer and thanks to this self-confession; I left Serena for self-employment. It has been four beautiful years in self-employment and I still say if I was to go back to employment, I would still choose my former employer. Today I run my outfit, the Treat House Resort, in Migori County. This as well has been a journey, whose story I leave for another day.

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How did the studies at Kenya Utalii College impact you on your journey?

In my current position as the CEO of my company, the Treat House Resort, I thank KUC for the Entrepreneurship skills course-unit which we took and which somehow influenced my business mindset. The studies at KUC have shaped my life and refined me into who I am today. 

Message to our young alumni and aspiring tourism and hospitality students? 

Kenya Utalii College is the best thing that ever happened to me. We must uphold the position of this premier institution high up there. We cannot afford to let the name slide backwards!

Are you one of our highly valued Alumni? Please contact: communication@utalii.ac.ke to share your story.

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