Learning the ropes
smiles. “It’s just taking something and doing the very best you can, and always looking at it from every angle and making sure there’s room for improvement.
“Today I may look at an issue from one angle, but tomorrow I may want to look at it from another. How do I improve it, how do I make it better? That’s the thought that drives me.”
Emma loves celebrating successes with her staff and acknowledging individuals who go beyond the call of duty.
“It’s very important to celebrate together whenever something big is achieved,” she says. “We support each other and look at strengths and weaknesses in each other.”
Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, determination and drive was instilled in Emma by her father, Alan Cullen, from an early age. “He was a very driven businessman – a serial entrepreneur,” she says. “Work was such a big part of his life. My younger sister, Amanda, and I learnt to be workaholics from him.” Although she loved her old job in marketing for the After travelling for a year, Emma settled in Port Douglas, Queensland, where she first got into the club business.
She learnt the ropes at Quicksilver, a resort company on the Great Barrier Reef, and moved on to Port Douglas Reef Resorts, “which had a couple of hotels and was developing a golf course which became a very personal and passionate project of mine,” she says. “I was involved right from the real estate stage when the golf course was being designed.”
That stood her in good stead when Club Corp, a Texas-based development company operating clubs across the world, eventually bought the golf course. She moved up the ladder as the company’s sales and marketing coordinator.
While on an assignment for Club Corp in Singapore, Emma met her future husband, South African Russel, and in 2003 she moved with him to Dubai.
“When I first arrived in Dubai I went to a barbecue where I met Linda Mahoney, the chairperson of one of Dubai’s first real estate agencies, Better Homes, and she said ‘come and