Dean Nelson CCM is one of our most recent CCM’s having passed the exam this year in April. Dean is currently the Director of Golf at Hong Kong Golf Club where he has been since 2010. Previously he worked at various UK clubs as a golf professional then moved to the Middle East to Dubai Golf before moving to Portugal’s Algarve region working with Starwood Hotels and Resorts at their European flagship resort the 5-star Sheraton Algarve Hotel and Pine Cliffs Residence.
In this Q&A Dean tells us about his experience sitting the exam and what made him make the move overseas.
How did you get into club management?
I got into the golf industry firstly to try my hand at playing, and it didn’t take too long for me to realise that my game was not good enough to make a living from playing alone. I knew then that getting into golf management was the correct career path for me to follow.
You’ve been at Hong Kong Golf Club now for 10 years and were previously at Dubai Golf and also Portugal. What made you decide to make the move overseas after starting your club career within the UK?
I read many great things about Dubai in the late 1990s and had friends who moved there and spoke very highly of its facilities, vision and the opportunities that were being created. I started looking into potential roles, and in 1999 I was fortunate to be recruited by Dubai Golf, and this kick-started my international experience. I was fortunate to work with such an exciting and vibrant company it changed my view on golf management and taught be so many best practices that I still use today.
Are there any cultural differences to working at a club in Asia to those in the UK and Europe that you had to adapt to?
Every country differs culturally; however, the Golf and Club Management practices are very similar globally. The main thing is to embed yourself in the culture and respect the local rules and regulations. Getting to know and understanding your colleagues and members is crucial for your success, and I believe with this mindset, you can succeed anywhere.
You had some rather long travels to attend the MDP courses going from Hong Kong to Europe each time. What made you so determined to complete the CMAE’s MDP programme rather than enrolling an education course that was closer to home or online?
Being a member of CMAE for many years and seeing how the education programme has evolved, I saw no reason to look outside my own association. The great work done by Mike Braidwood and then followed up by Toby Johansson made each of the residential weeks a great place to learn and grow your network. Furthermore, I believe that I benefitted greatly from attending courses in Dubai, Warwick and St. Andrews, which provided me with a wider variety of knowledge from my industry colleagues who were attending. This also assisted me in growing my personal network, and it was many of these colleagues who supported me through the exam.
You were one of the first CCM exam applicants to sit the exam online. Tell us about your experiences in sitting the exam and how you prepared for it?
The online system is very straightforward to use and very user friendly. Prepare, prepare, prepare! A well-prepared study plan will help you get through the exam, and I would encourage anyone who is sitting the exam to reach out to some colleagues who have sat the exam to help you through the process. I was fortunate to do this, and without their guidance and advice, it would have been far more challenging to pass. The great thing about the MDP Programme is the colleagues you meet along the journey, and they will all be more than happy to assist.