Mike O’Connell CCM worked as a General Manager for the Burhill Golf & Leisure group for over 13 years, responsible for the overall management of one of the busiest golf centres in the UK. In 2017 he swapped management for the technology world and joined software company ESP Leisure as Operations Director.
In this Q&A he explains why he moved away from club management and how his experience helps him in his role at ESP.
You swapped club management for the technology world and joined ESP Leisure in 2017. What inspired you to go for a change after 13 years in club management?
I started in golf club management in F & B in 1993 for the then American Golf, so had been working directly in operations for over 23 years when I decided to move on. Throughout that entire time the clubs I worked at used ESP Leisure software, so I built up an excellent working relationship with them over the years. It just felt like the time was right to explore new avenues and take on a new challenge.
How does your experience in club management assist you with your role at ESP Leisure?
It’s a massive benefit, as my background helps me understand from a club and customer perspective, I have also had the opportunity to reconnect with previous colleagues I have met along the way plus connect with new ones.
How has technology in clubs changed over the past decade and where do you see it heading in the future?
Yes it’s a never ending development journey! Going I think more and more in the hands of the end user, Online, App, with greater convenience, Re marketing gone are the days of blanket mass marketing and hoping for uplift, it’s now more much focused on target lead actions.
You have a background in F&B which was no doubt a useful skill to have in your role managing Hoebridge. What was your biggest weaknesses when you moved into club management and how did you fill those gaps in knowledge?
Well apart from my golfing ability, it would have to been the golf course agronomy side of the business, understanding about what to apply and when, I employed a great course manager, who was able to assist in bridging my knowledge gap
The CCM exam with it being a 7 hour exam in total is no mean feat. What did you do to prepare yourself for the exam day and what advice would you give to others who will soon be sitting their exam?
I was extremely fortunate to have Marc Newey as my mentor, Marc is a great coach and ambassador who helped me prepare. Don’t under estimate how much time you need to put in to study, getting the qualification is a big deal and it’s well worth investing the time and effort in preparing for.