David Balden has been at the Caledonian Club, a private members club situated in the heart of London, for 24 years and was recently appointed to the post of Club Secretary. David is Chairman of the CMAE London & Home Counties region, in addition to being on the main European Board and the Education Policy Board. He was also one of the group of first managers in Europe to gain the CCM designation in 2008.
Here David explains how learning and development has become the culture of the regions community and how the CCM and the strong network he has built within the CMAE tribe is paramount to his success as a club manager.
1. You were raised in the Scottish Borders, which is a particularly beautiful and community orientated part of the UK. Do you think your background has had an influence in your career and specifically contributed to your attributes as a successful club manager?
Being born and raised in the Scottish Borders you are automatically expected to play rugby from an early age and I do firmly believe that being involved and understanding team ethics, ie it is all about the team not the individual, from an early age sticks with you throughout your life. I have always felt that whatever your or others positions are within the Club it takes everyone doing their job correctly to bring success.I would also agree with the community aspect and do feel that Club life can often feel like a community, where even if there are different views the over riding feeling is for the good of the Club / community.
2. What prompted you to enter the club industry and what aspect of your previous career best prepare you for your current role?
I was actually working at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh when a previous college lecturer advised me that The Caledonian Club in London were looking for Trainee Managers. Whilst I enjoyed The Balmoral the scale of the hotel made you feel like a number rather than a person and to this day still don’t like name badges, at a Club it is as important for a Member to learn your name as it is for you to learn theirs. I am grateful I had the experience of working in hotels as it gave me a great insight into the Hospitality industry but also helps me appreciate on a daily basis how lucky we are to be in the Club industry.
3. The Board members of the London clubs are very strong supporters of the CMAE mission. What do you think creates such a culture of learning and development within your community?
I have been on the LHC board for some time, and indeed now being Chairman, and our philosophy has and hopefully will always be that education is our primary reason for being. We have always tried to deliver education seminars which we feel reflects the situations in Clubland and realise there is a strong need, alongside the excellent MDP’s, for Club specific education for club managers as well as developing staff at every level. I also like the use of the word community again as we encourage as much as possible for Club managers from different sectors, City, Golf, Sailing, Tennis to name a few spend time both in education and networking sessions, there is so much to learn from this cross over and I would always encourage anyone to reach out to managers in other sectors it is truly worthwhile to have a broad range of experiences in your community / tribe.
4. You have recently been appointed as the Club Manager of the Caledonian Club. Would it be possible to define how much of your success is owed to your CCM?
As you may expect I am always promoting the worth of CMAE and our education pathway to anyone who will listen and this was certainly the case during the interview process. I am proud to have been one of the first Club Managers to attain CCM and it was recognized that it had taken a great deal of hard work and was a true success for me professionally. It was also made clear that the fact I have such a strong network of colleagues as I do was also a telling factor so thank you all at CMAE and beyond!
5. In addition to your already very busy job, you have been a willing and enthusiastic CMAE Board member. How have you balanced your time commitments with your role as a husband and father to two young children?
To be honest with great difficulty at times and can’t see that getting any easier ! The Caledonian Club has also always been very supportive of my roles within CMAE and have allowed time for this and I am sure once I get settled in to my new position this will continue. That said I am very fortunate to work mainly Monday to Friday leaving precious time at the weekend for family and with so many late nights I can often take the kids to school in the morning. I do believe there has to be a life work balance although I do not actually see my CMAE roles as work, it is an privelage to be on the Boards I am and being able to give back to an industry that has developed me as an individual as well as the opportunity to meet and work with so many amazing people.