The interview… Redditch’s Kerry Alligan-Smith

Redditch’s ‘Pocket Rocket’ is leading her club out of the coronavirus pandemic with confidence You came to Redditch from a very commercial background. What was it that attracted you about working in a private members’ club? They’re very forward thinking. They made some dramatic changes before I joined – so smaller committees and having the general manager on the board. They were looking for somebody to take it to next stage and to really try and push things a lot more.  It is a traditional club. It is a private members’ club, but they are very open to new and creative ideas. That’s my background. It’s all about ‘what difference can we make? Let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, what lessons can we learn from that?’ It’s about having the trust in the membership, and having the trust in the committee, to allow me to do what I need to do for the betterment of the club. Was it a bit of a culture shock at first? I don’t mean that negativity, but you’ve come from very high-profile projects and environments that are heavily sales oriented into a traditional private members’ club environment… It was really challenging in the beginning. The way you would look at it is going from a corporate background into a family-owned business. There’s policies, rules and regulations, and discussions about making decisions. So one of the things was really to try and develop trust within the committees – to say ‘look, this is what we need to do, this is how we can change it’. It was going to be bumpy in the beginning, because it’s a bit of a shock for the members but also for me. In my first year, we took the pro in-house as well. You were brought in to be a moderniser and one of your first projects was to consolidate the golf club as one entity and one team. That must have been a tricky project to push through because you’re dealing with structures that have been in place for a long time… You do have to ride it out and it is painful at times but it’s just one of those things you need to do. It was the best thing we could have done – especially coming into the pandemic. We moved staff around. We all did a bit of everybody’s role. Even at the moment, I’ve got pro shop and bar staff working on the greens. Normally I’ve got six greens staff. Now I’ve got nine of them all focused on the work to prepare the course for opening.  That’s key. If we were split up as a team, or we had franchises here, there, and everywhere, it would have been an absolutely traumatic period. We didn’t have to worry about paying a retainer for the pro, or furloughs, or any of those things. We tried to be really creative and really proactive. Even though we’re going through this difficult time, everybody’s still being supported...
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