Case study

Theron's journey from Caribbean roots to hospitality entrepreneur

Once Theron Niles discovered the excitement of being in the hospitality industry, he knew that was the path he wanted to follow. He has now built a hospitality career in both the Caribbean and the UK after graduating from our BA (Hons) International Hospitality Management degree.

A passion for hospitality

Theron has always been ambitious. Growing up in Anguilla in the Caribbean, he was surrounded by hospitality but originally thought about a career in property. After taking a part-time job in the hospitality industry, Theron discovered a passion for where he wanted to build his career:

“I actually fell in love with the industry and the dynamics of it and how exciting it was. Everything, every day was new and I was meeting new people, learning new things all the time, and I thought this is something that I can do so I started to look at some degrees.”

After thorough research, Theron chose the University of Derby for its comprehensive curriculum, with a particular emphasis on practical experience - an aspect that greatly appealed to him. He says: “I chose Derby because they had everything in a course that I was looking for at the time. The practical side of it was also something that beckoned to me, and being able to gain that kind of base in operations.”

Theron working in the four seasons group.

Building a career

Upon graduating, Theron set his sights on the Four Seasons hotel group. Theron says: “My story is kind of unique because, when I approached the company they didn’t have any jobs open. I said to them: ‘Hey, listen I'm coming fresh from university, I have tons of experience and I think I'm someone that you want to know.’ And they looked at me as if to say, who does this guy think he is? He’s confident, he's young, let's get him in.”

After impressing the Four Seasons group during an initial three-month period, Theron was offered a role and then, a year later, he was offered a Manager in Training programme. Following this, Theron worked as an Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, before going on to work for the Four Seasons Group in Anguilla and London.

Starting a business

After several years with Four Seasons, Theron decided it was time to forge his path as an entrepreneur and he launched his own events company. He had spotted a gap in the market, while a lot of the events in Anguilla focused on carnivals and partying, Theron recognised a need for more diverse and positive entertainment options for the island.

“We wanted to do something surrounding sport, so we did some boxing, we did some comedy events and that grew and is still growing to this day. We still do the boxing events.”

Theron’s experience as an events supervisor during his time at University meant he already had a working knowledge of running events:

“That was one of those experiences that I can immediately draw from and use it to develop my own business. The coaching and guiding part of it was something that I really drew upon my entire time working for Four Seasons, and even in my personal life as well.”

International Hospitality Management graduate, Theron Niles taking a selfie at the Four Seasons hotel.

Next steps

Today, Theron balances his role as an Assistant Director of Food and Beverage with Belmond, with consultancy work and the management of his events company. He also plans to return to the University for postgraduate studies. He's eager to give back by offering mentorship to current students, emphasising the immense potential for growth within the hospitality sector. Theron says:

“Hospitality is an amazing field, it gives you so many options but it also teaches you a lot about yourself, and I think that's the main thing. If you're deciding on a career or deciding on a direction to go in, hospitality might be a really good starting point for you.”