Drop the pre­tence

Friday - - Inside - Sthekkepat@gulfnews.com @Shiva_fri­day

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

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