‘I have 120 chil­dren!’

The Cap­i­tal Club is run more like a re­laxed home than an ex­clu­sive pri­vate-mem­bers club. Its gen­eral man­ager Emma Cullen tells Shiva Kumar Thekkepat that fam­ily val­ues are also the key to busi­ness suc­cess

Friday - - Inside -

Emma Cullen oozes charm, which as the gen­eral man­ager of one of Dubai’s most pres­ti­gious pri­vate­mem­bers clubs, she puts, along with her wide smile, to good use. Whether she’s talk­ing to a VIP guest, one of her staff or Fri­day, her nat­u­ral al­lure as the head of the Cap­i­tal Club in the city’s trendy Dubai In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre is ev­i­dent.

The 44-year-old is very per­sua­sive and al­ways has been. “I al­ways di­rected ev­ery­body in the fam­ily since I was a kid,” she says. “I was quite the or­gan­iser.

“I con­sider the club like a home and try to cre­ate a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment for my staff here.’’

The Aus­tralian in­sists that she’s firm when she needs to be, but her stee­li­ness is wrapped in her moth­erly na­ture.

Emma and her hus­band, Rus­sel Matcham, don’t have any chil­dren, “But I have a cat, Lolo, and I am ac­tu­ally the mother of 120 – my staff!” she quips.

She may be jok­ing, but her fam­ily at­ti­tude to­wards busi­ness is a big rea­son why the club is so suc­cess­ful.

“We’ve cre­ated this fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment nt within the teams,” she says. “We treat ev­ery­body as we would want to be treated d our­selves. That’s our phi­los­o­phy.”

An all-inclusive or­gan­i­sa­tion

Hav­ing so many staff with dif­fer­ent back­grounds would present is­sues for most bosses, but Emma makes a spe­cial ef­fort to un­der­stand and in­clude ev­ery­one ne in the or­gan­i­sa­tion. “It’s very im­por­tant that we un­der­stand each other’s cul­tures, s, each other’s val­ues and our up­bring­ing,” she says.

In her four months at the helm of the club, which has 1,500 mem­bers and en­cour­ages pro­fes­sional and so­cial net­work­ing, Emma has been in­volved in over­see­ing all of its op­er­a­tions – a daunt­ing task, but one she rel­ishes.

“I’m ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about work,” she says. “I know it’s a cliché, a buz­zword ev­ery­one uses th­ese days, but that’s the truth. I feel the pas­sion in my stom­ach. I of­ten ask my­self what it is that drives me, and I am not afraid of ask­ing even my subor­di­nates if I don’t know some­thing. It’s not com­pet­i­tive­ness, it’s about do­ing the best.”

She learnt this most valu­able les­son as a child when her grand­fa­ther, a farmer, taught her the say­ing, ‘Good, bet­ter, best; Never let it rest; Un­til your good gets bet­ter; And your bet­ter be­comes your best.’

“That is re­ally is my driv­ing prin­ci­ple,” she

Emma’s beam­ing smile en­dears her to club guests and staff alike

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