Job title General manager
Employer Everyone Active
What do you do?
I work for Everyone Active, one of the leading leisure operators with 160 sites across England, as the General Manager of the newly opened Sapphire Ice & Leisure centre. It’s a brand new £28m leisure centre with a range of activities for the whole family including a 100-station gym, an eight-lane swimming pool and Havering’s only Ice Rink. It’s also home to the Everyone Active Raiders ice hockey team.
As the General Manager, I am accountable for the entire running of the facility. I am also in charge of the safety and wellbeing of our customers, contractors and all colleagues that work within the centre. I manage a team of around 100 people in total.
What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibilities include the day to day running of the centre. I need to ensure we are fully staffed and operational at all times. I am also in charge of ensuring the centre is safe at all times and fully compliant.
What do you enjoy most about your General Manager role at Everyone Active?
It sounds a bit cliché but what I love is that no two days are ever the same.
Personally, I enjoy managing a team and helping to support those who want to progress in their career. Everyone Active is fantastic organisation from that perspective, as they really do support you in your career development.
I’m never one to shy away from a task and I wouldn’t ask any of my team to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do myself. I enjoy getting stuck in, being hands on and really getting to know our centre users.
What are the biggest challenges in your General Manager role, or facing your industry generally?
As a manager, my biggest challenge is understanding that everyone in my team is completely different and work in different ways. So, it’s about being able to manage all the personalities, adapting to their needs and getting the very best out of them.
My other biggest challenge is managing everyone’s expectations. I need to ensure we are keeping our customers happy at all times and really listening to their wants and needs. As a local authority leisure operator, I also need to ensure we are hitting our objectives set by the council and keeping them happy too.
What opportunities are there in your industry for young people in 2018?
There are so many different opportunities for young people to start a career in leisure. At Everyone Active we have a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities and recently introduced our all rounder scheme, which gives young people a chance to try out a variety of different roles within the company. Not just in our gym team or swimming and lifeguarding team, they also get the chance to work in front of house, sales and within the food and beverage team before deciding which avenue to go down.
Everyone Active is very supportive as an organisation and the majority stay with us for a long time as they can work their way up through the company.
“I would say that you need to have passion for what you do and ability to multi-task! As a General Manager you’re dealing with lots of different people, day in day out, not just customers but also your team and suppliers”
Tell us a bit about your career path to this point…
I studied for a BTec Diploma in Child Care Studies and worked within the childcare sector for around 14 years before getting into leisure. My last role was an outreach worker based in a children’s centre supporting families and children on the child protection register and teenage parents. I did this for four and a half years before deciding to make a complete change as I found the role to be very emotionally challenging to the point where it was starting to affect my health.
I had worked in the hospitality industry casually over the years and a friend of mine told me about a role coming up at Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre as a manager within the Food & Beverage department. I decided to apply and can honestly say it was the best career move I have ever made and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve now been working for Everyone Active for nearly five years. Having spent two and a half years as the Food and Beverage Manager my Contract Manager then put me forward for the Everyone Active’s internal Emerging Manager scheme. This was a fantastic opportunity for me. The scheme lasted six months in total and after I passed, I initially applied for the General Manager role at Loughton Leisure Centre covering maternity leave. I was successful in getting the job however just before I was about to start, a permanent General Manager position came up for Redbourn Leisure Centre. I started there in March 2016 before moving into the Havering Contract after only four months to become the General Manager of Central Park Leisure Centre. I spent 18 months before becoming the General Manager of the brand-new Sapphire Ice & Leisure.
What experience does your kind of career require?
I would say that you need to have passion for what you do and ability to multi-task! As a General Manager you’re dealing with lots of different people, day in day out, not just customers but also your team and suppliers. You need to be adaptable as you never know what might happen that day. Having good listening skills is also very important as you need to understand the wants and needs of your customers and the team alike. It also requires the ability to lead and motivate your team.
What are you looking for when it comes to recruiting? What makes people stand out?
When it comes to recruiting I am looking for those who have real ambition and passion for what they do. Working in the leisure industry and dealing with customers day in day out, I’m also looking for team members who are friendly and that are happy to just get stuck in no matter what the task is. At the end of the day its about being a team, so having a positive attitude and good work ethic is important.
I also think its great to see when someone is happy to take a side step to get into the career they want or that don’t mind starting from the bottom.
If you had one bit of advice you would tell your younger self, what would it be?
To have more confidence, to believe in yourself and not be scared to take a risk!
What was the best advice you were given?
The best advice that I was given was probably from my previous line manager when I worked at the children’s centre. She told me to always fight for what I believed in and to never doubt my capabilities.