Joanna Madey-Khan

Job title General manager

Employer St. George's Park Graves

"Anything is possible"

Tell us a little bit about your role as General Manager, who you work for, and what you do…

I work for Leisure United, a charitable trust which aims to deliver first class leisure and football facilities that are accessible and affordable for the whole community.

The Trust manages and operates facilities on behalf of Pulse Soccer including St George’s Park Graves, St George’s Park Thorncliffe and St. George’s Park Westfield.

The facilities are part of a project known as the ‘Parklife Project’ set up by the FA which aims to get more people involved in football at a grassroots level underpinned by high quality, financially sustainable facilities

I was taken on as a general manager and opened the first site, St. George’s Park Graves

What are your main responsibilities?

There are several aspects to my role but driving the business forward to increase participation and commercial growth is my prime objective along with ensuring all aspects of business procedures related to service delivery by the team and I are adhered to. Another big part of my role is to build relationships with local football managers in the area including our partner clubs who use our facility as their ‘home’ ground.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love the fact every day is different, even though the main objective is to get people using and enjoying the facility we can get anything in from walking football from the local ladies and gents to tournaments where teams come from as far as Hong Kong and Dubai.

What are the biggest challenges in your role, or facing your industry generally?

I personally feel that there is no place to play football like St George’s Park Graves but unfortunately during the summer months we get quieter as teams tend to go back to playing on grass when their season ends. As such the biggest challenge is finding ways of utilising the place during those quieter times.


“Here at St George’s Park Graves we have numerous positions from groundsman to receptionist, football coach to kid’s party coach”


What opportunities are there in your industry for young people in 2018?

I think the main thing is the fact that so many different opportunities exist. Young people no longer have to stay in one role for their working life. For example, here at St George’s Park Graves we have numerous positions from groundsman to receptionist, football coach to kid’s party coach. We also endeavour to reward hard work and determination which can mean endless opportunities for progression. As an example, the current assistant manager here started as a receptionist.

Tell us a bit about your career path to this point…

Football has been part of my life and my career for many years now. Previously I worked full-time in recruitment however I had two young children at the time and felt my role was costing me more in both time and money than I wanted. In 2010 I joined a commercial football company as a part-time receptionist and within a year was promoted to duty manager. I spent six years there and even met my husband in the job! He is a referee, so it is safe to say that football is a big part of our lives!

I then spotted that they were advertising for a new general manager at SGP Graves so took the plunge and applied.

What experience, and extracurricular activities, does your kind of career require?

Surprisingly football knowledge isn’t a prerequisite for the role although it is advantageous. I personally am an avid follower of football having three boys who all play in leagues and a season ticket to Sheffield Wednesday. However more importantly is the ability to build relationships with people. The role entails working closely with people from all walks of life and good relationships ensures a smooth working environment and that everyone is on the same page.


“Getting ahead in the football industry as a female can be difficult but I am proof that if you prove yourself and your abilities, anything is possible”


What are you looking for when it comes to recruiting? What makes people stand out?

It is crucial that people have good customer service skills and are personable individuals, anything else can be taught. This becomes even more crucial when recruiting for front of house staff as they are the face of the company. I want to hire people who are friendly and welcoming and don’t require promoting to go that extra mile to help the customer. For instance, we have one 17 year old who has really shown us how committed he is, so as a result we’ve put him through his level one coaching.

If you had one bit of advice you would tell your younger self, what would it be?

To always have faith in yourself and your abilities. When I started as a receptionist sorting out leagues and organising children’s parties, I would never have believed I could become the first general manager of this amazing place. Getting ahead in the football industry as a female can be difficult but I am proof that if you prove yourself and your abilities, anything is possible.

What was the best advice you were given?

Always ensure that your facility is flawless in cleanliness and provides impeccable customer service. It is important to leave your facility happy in the knowledge that whoever walks through the door, in our case it could be anyone including the head of the FA, they would be happy with what they were greeted with.

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