Anne-Maree Ross Group Marketing and Business Development Manager

Licensed Club Management – Club Kilsyth and Club Ringwood

How did you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position?

Like many school leavers, hospitality offered the flexibility to work nights and weekends around my university study. I commenced my employment at Club Kilsyth in 2003 as a waitress in our bistro, whilst studying a double degree in Art and Science. Over the following 2 years I worked across multiple areas including as a function host, working behind the bar and as a bistro team leader. In 2005 the Club was razed by a devastating fire and I found myself suddenly unemployed.

Whilst the Club rebuilt, I completed my studies and in November 2006 when the time came for the Club to reopen, I jumped at any opportunity to re-join the crew and found myself as a full-time reception supervisor. I can still remember the opening day and the line of people going out the door to renew their membership!

In August 2007, our licensee opened a second venue, Club Ringwood, and an opportunity arose for me to apply for a trainee management position. As a 22 year old female, I didn’t think I was suitable or ready for the role. I confided in a manager that I didn’t think I was capable and would not be submitting an expression of interest. The next day my CEO marched up to my desk and told me that I was going to apply as she thought I had the right attributes for the role. I wrote a short letter, stating that whilst I didn’t have the skills or experience now, I would in the future like to be considered.

I don’t know if it was a leap of faith or a calculated decision on their part, but my management team identified my potential and I joined as the youngest manager of our team. I went on to be an Assistant Manager at both Club Kilsyth and Club Ringwood, working across a range of disciplines and areas. I took grasp of opportunity to learn with both hands and asked A LOT of questions. My parents placed value on effort, hard work and pride in your endeavours and I worked hard to prove my worth. I worked a range of shifts across all areas of the club to acquire a complete understanding of our business.

Arriving at my current position hasn’t been easy. All too often woman attribute their success to luck; “oh, I’m just lucky I suppose”. I have now worked at the Club for 16 years, and my current role has evolved as our business has grown. As such, my title does not fully represent my role. It encompasses a range of areas and knowledge and I continue to learn every day.

What excites you most about working in the gaming & hospitality industry?

I love the variety of our industry! One day I can be working on the implementation of a new project, membership system or editing our Club magazine and the next day I may be consulting with our chef on a new menu or training a staff member. No two days are ever the same and the variety, whilst it always keeps my desk crammed with work, allows me to look at our business from many perspectives. I have a thirst for knowledge and love to know the ‘why’ behind ‘what’ we do.

I also love the interaction with people, investing time and knowledge with staff members and offering exceptional customer experiences. Really our industry delivers the full package!

What do you think is the most significant barrier for women in the industry, today? How do you think this barrier can be overcome?

I think the number one barrier for woman in our industry is ourselves. Too often we underestimate our abilities, talk ourselves out of opportunities and the worm of doubt can eat away at our self-belief. We look at challenges as chances to fail instead of learn. We focus on our short-comings rather than our attributes. We’re too scared to take the leap in case we fall.

Second to this, the employment structure of our industry provides many obstacles for woman to continue to find roles in leadership due maternity leave and family roles. As a new mother myself, my career was a significant part of my identity and returning to work was an important part of recognising my new identity as a mother. The flexibility of my employer has allowed me to return to my role part time. In full disclosure, it hasn’t been easy, and I work very hard to balance life and work, motherhood and management, but I feel that both give me a better perspective of the other.

The role of a parent, both mother and father, is shifting and with this change woman and men are finding a better balance in their role in the household. The advent of more flexible work arrangements will only see more opportunities for woman to continue to grow.

What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career, so far?

I am currently undertaking the Woman Ahead Mentoring program as a guest of Women in Gaming and Hospitality. Being recognised as an asset to our industry is a great honour to be bestowed. I feel a little humble to be honest, as I know the calibre of the woman who work in our industry. It has made me realise that whilst I have been looking for strong female role models, I have become one for others. Having this opportunity to learn from others is life changing.

What advice would you give your younger self, starting out in the Gaming Industry?

It’s worth it. All the hard work. The long hours. You are making a difference.

There will be people along your journey who will be your greatest advocates and some who won’t want you to achieve in lieu of the deficiency. Learn to listen to those with knowledge to share and ask questions to strive for betterment. Know your strengths and nurture your weaknesses. Enjoy your successes but don’t rest on your laurels. Be true to you.

Write that letter. Don’t doubt yourself, you’re better than you know.