Young manager of the year

The future of clubland is in good hands judging by the quality of the trio of stars who made it to the podium positions for Young Manager of the Year 2021.

Open to managers under the age of 30, the Young Manager of the Year Award celebrates the work of young leaders who have shown themselves to be outstanding contributors to their club and the community their club serves.

This year’s top spot went to Elly Cornick, the Human Resources Manager at Frenchville Sports Club in Rockhampton.

For Elly, 29, her journey with the club started with a job behind the bar at Frenchville.

All up, she has been there for more than 10 years, with a couple of years’ break at the start where she worked at Caboolture Sports Club after her family moved to Brisbane for a while.

“I started in beverage, gaming and then as a duty manager and then I suppose there was a bit of a point where I came to a standstill and I had a look at myself and thought about whether I needed to change industries. I was presented an opportunity in this HR role which I enjoy,” Elly said.

Elly said she enjoyed the camaraderie of the team at Frenchville and felt her experience working across all of the operational areas of the club had provided her with a solid base for the human resources role. It also gave her an understanding of how important clear communication was when it came to relaying management decisions to staff working on the floor each day.

She said while the layout of the Frenchville venue meant the management team did have offices “upstairs” the team tried to be available as much as possible and would always walk around and say hello to whoever was on before starting their days.

“This job is not always a fun job, obviously, we all know that, but I work with an incredible team, they’re very supportive. It makes it easier coming to work each day when you’re with a great team.”

Elly said no two days were the same.

She has implemented a new HR system and payroll function at the Club, so managing that takes up some time each week, along with recruitment, training and engagement work.

Elly said recruitment was one of the more challenging elements of club life given the nature of the roles available required working outside 9 to 5 hours and over weekends too.

“It is still tough. We feel like we’re understaffed. It’s a case of what else can we do to incentivise someone to come and work in the industry.”

As for the win itself, Elly said she was honoured to win and to have been nominated in the first place.

When she’s away from the club Elly can be found a little way up the road at her home at Yeppoon enjoying time with her family and making the most of the waterside location. If it’s a really good day, she’ll have a fishing rod in hand too.

This year’s runner up in the Young Manager of the Year Award was also from Rockhampton.

Rocky Sports Club General Manager Jack Hughes, 24, was last year’s winner in the category and he continued to kick goals at the club in 2021.

Jack’s move into the club industry came off the back of a successful touch football career where he captained Australia as a 21-year-old.

His coach, long-time Rockhampton local Gavin Shuker, won the tender to lease the former CQ Leagues Club venue in 2018 and, together with his wife Tanya, opened the venue with a vision of bringing Rockhampton’s many sporting clubs together under one roof.

Jack, who started studying for his university degree in exercise and sport science when he was 16, was already working for Gavin at his gym when the new venue opened and he asked Jack if he’d like to have a go at running that.

“We set up the club from scratch. I just started meeting people – and I set up all of the contracts with all of the suppliers.

“We opened in April 2018 and we’ve now got 24,000 members and 98 associated sporting clubs and we’ve just received funding for $23 million to build a 7500-seat stadium and a 1500-seat conference centre for seminars and concerts and things like that.

“In the last six months we’ve been working through the application and doing their designs and things like that.

“Rocky’s biggest venue is 400 sit down – this will be 1000 seated and 2000 standing.”

Building on the success of the Rocky Sports Club the team stepped out into another regional market at the end of 2019 and took over the running of a Bowls Club in Toowoomba (now Club Toowoomba).

“We’ve got about 55 staff here in Rocky and we’ve got 28 staff there,” Jack said.

“We did a big refurbishment down there with a new café, new bars, new gaming room. We finished just before COVID-19 and shutdown for that three-month period. We’ve been trading properly since July when we re-opened.

“We’re up to 45 associated clubs down there and we’ve had another bowls club amalgamate with us as well – we pretty much saved the club down there – we’ve been able to keep bowls alive in South Toowoomba.”

Jack said he was looking forward to the 12 months ahead which would include the new stadium and refurbishment of the Rocky venue.

He is also excited about learning more about the club industry and working with other club managers in the region as the Zone Representative for Clubs Queensland.

CSC Group Marketing Manager Sarra Daly, who placed third in this year’s Young Manager of the Year Award, said she was honoured to have been nominated.

Sarra leads a team of four marketing managers and has overall responsibility for the Caboolture Sports Club, North Lakes Sports Club, Centenary Lakes Sports Club and Sports Central Caboolture.

“I’ve lived and breathed club land all of my life,” Sarra said.

“My Dad used to work for Maxgaming.”

Sarra started working at Alex Surf Club when she was 17, then moved on to Kedron-Wavell Services Club where she said she worked in pretty much all of the departments before landing in marketing and events.
When the chance came up to work for CSC and to move from a single site venue to a multi-site environment Sarra said she had taken it and had been with CSC ever since.

Sarra said clubs offered an amazing array of opportunities for staff keen to expand their skills and for her role, in marketing, she had been able to constantly evolve and upskill herself and her teams to make the most of the latest changes in marketing tools and technology.

“With clubs, you’re contributing to something larger. You’re positively impacting your community.”