Drop the pretence
work with us,’” Emma recalls. “I told her I was going to play golf and take some time off.’’
But Emma soon got bored doing nothing, so she gave Linda a call and accepted the offer. “And I didn’t take one day off for a year straight! I worked so hard, but it was so rewarding. I worked in customer care, it required people skills – caring for people.”
After six years with the company, she resigned and did some consultancy work before taking up her position at Capital Club.
“The hospitality industry is all about caring for people. Going the extra mile and making a difference for the guests is what it is all about.
“In the club, we have to keep everything turning, which is what makes it so exciting. Doing things differently makes members want to come on a very regular basis.”
Emma says caring and creating experiences are the key to hospitality. “It’s quite different between running a hotel and a club, though both are about connecting with people,” she says. “You have to work at a much deeper level so the member feels like the club is his home.”
She makes sure that her staff know the score. “Any staff can deliver the coffee, but if they don’t present it with a smile on their face and in their hearts, then it means nothing. The cheer and pleasure to serve should be genuine.” Emma’s key advice is to never pretend. “Never tell a lie when the truth will work,” she says. “In fact, it always does. Last week it was just too busy at the club, we were fully booked, and a mistake was made on the bookings. One of our regular members could not be accommodated and was very upset. I just ran up to her, grabbed her hands and said, ‘I am so sorry about this, we made a mistake’. I don’t think there are too many general managers who would do that, but for me honesty matters. And then you fix it. We arranged her a better spot on another day that was convenient for her. That’s the whole point.”
Being true to yourself is also important. “I am genuine, tenacious and hard-working. I lead by example. I am direct, which can be a strength or a weakness depending on how it works out, but it ultimately works for the best,” she says.
Emma aims to turn the Capital Club into the hottest location in town. “My dream for this club is to have the Fomo [fear of missing out] factor! People should feel they are missing out on something vital if they are not members.”
For her, work is everything. “I don’t have kids, so I don’t have a responsibility outside the club,” she says.
Although she has a lot of trust in her staff, Emma is very much in control of the club and she has her say in every area. “We have heads for the several departments at the club, but I often go in everywhere to find out what’s happening,” she says. “I roll my sleeves up and I get stuck in. I am not good at hierarchy. I am fair, but I expect results. There has to be a certain level of engagement, but the staff have to be happy and have fun while doing it.”
Despite her huge workload, Emma still finds time for relaxation, too. “I relax by running,” she says. “Safa Park is my place. I run every day and I want to be able to clock 10km in 40 minutes!”
She’s also a very good cook. “I love to cook a type of cuisine called Nonya – a blend of Malay, Chinese and Indonesian, which is quite spicy,” she says. “I like to eat very spicy food.’’
Her other passions are the arts. “I am interested in music, art, architecture – anything visual,” she says. “I studied music too at one point. I was great at the theory but did not have the talent to play an instrument.”
Although she’s driven in her professional life, Emma’s great dream is actually nothing to do with work; she wants to walk the Pyrenees. “I love the great outdoors,” she says. “So it’s a big dream to walk the 1,000-odd kilometres across the Pyrenees.”
Emma is well aware that work doesn’t always have to come first. With free time at a premium, she believes that sometimes it’s better to go with the flow.
“I live my life a little bit off the cuff,” she says. “Don’t try to control too much of your life, just take bite-sized chunks. Anyway, one cat and 120 kids take too much of my time!”
husband, Russell, love fitness and the great outdoors
Emma and her