Russell Stebbings CCM is current General Manager at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire. He has worked previously for two multi facility operators in the Burhill Golf & Leisure Group and American Golf (now Crown Golf) in both management and F&B roles.
In this Q&A Russell explains how he got involved with CMAE and what its like to work for a large operator compared to a single site club.
How and why did you get involved with CMAE?
After working for American Golf (now Crown Golf) and then the BGL Group, I then started working for an independent owner. The CMAE was an excellent way for me to continue to develop a network of support while learning and improving myself. I also wanted to work through a recognised qualification to support my industry experience and felt the CCM is the global market-leading qualification in club management.
You worked previously within the Burhill Golf group. Are there any significant differences between managing a club that is part of a larger operation compared to a standalone golf club?
Yes, the significant difference apart from the support of a network of other piers at the other clubs and the central support network at head office was the culture. In a group, sometimes the corporate processes and procedures can slow you down and be frustrating as a posed to working for one owner who can make a quick decision and you can get things done. That being said, there are pros and cons for both as the structure and support of BGL was such great learning, I wouldn’t have succeeded in my other roles without what I learned from my time there and the professional, process driven culture they installed.
You have a background in Food & Beverage. How valuable did you find having a good level of F&B knowledge when it came to moving into a general manager position?
I always focus on recruiting strong people in the teams I work in, as I have a strong F&B background I have focused on working with people with great golf, finance or sales expertise. That being said you need to have a full understating of how a club works, have great people skills and I believe however you have come into the industry if you had your eyes open while coming in can stead you in good stead for a career in club management.
Who or what do you feel has had the biggest impact on your career? Did you have a mentor?
I was lucky that from a young age, my grandfather used to take me out on Friday night with him and his friends to various clubs, hotels and restaurants in London. I used to enjoy it and always loved the feeling of how welcome people made me. Looking back, this was my first real feeling for hospitality, and my grandfather had a significant positive impact on how I am as a person. I have been fortunate to have several mentors through my career who I also owe a lot too. I will always be in their debt and my commitment to anyone who has ever invested their time in me is to ensure I am a good man, live by good values and be the best industry professional I can be.
Can you quantify what having the CCM designation means to you, both professionally and personally?
Professionally as I mentioned, I believe CCM is the global qualification for club managers, and I am proud to be recognised and associated with the CMAE and CMAA. Personally, it gives me a little confidence that after 20 years in the industry, and I am up to date, relevant and pointing in the right direction