The Road to Becoming a GM Part 1 - Interview With Adam Zubek

12.04.24-WCTAlogo-grassonly.jpgby Stan Kazymerchyk

What is your present role and what is your future goal?

My present position is Golf Course and Property Manager (Superintendent) at Mississaugua Golf and Country Club. My future goal is to transition to a GM or COO at a similar sized club to which I am at today.

14.11.06-Adam.ZubekExplain why you wanted to become a GM and when you realized it?  

Beyond turf I have a passion for developing people and working with them to achieve their career goals. As my role as Superintendent and responsibilities grew over the years, I became more aware of my interest in influencing up and down the chain of command and collaborating with various groups to achieve common goals. Ultimately as GM/COO, I believe the skills I learned as a Superintendent will be valuable in helping create positive results in all areas of any club operation.

Outline your career plan progression & timeline?

My career path started in the late 90’s and I became a Superintendent in 2007. Education and professional development have been at the heart of all of my experiences and my career continues to grow and change as I have completed my 8th year as Superintendent. I have no specific timeline for becoming a GM but my goals include achieving my CCM designation in the next 2 years. My current position is very rewarding and our club is entertaining some big changes that I am excited to be part of, so there’s no real rush to move anywhere right now!

How does the ‘CCM’ process work?

CCM is the Certified Club Manager designation administered by the CMAA Club Managers Association of America and there are courses offered through the Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM).  See: Requisites for the CCM include:

-6 years’ membership in CSCM
-300 credits of educational and association activity
-Completing a series of Business Management Institute (BMI) courses.
-Successfully challenging an 8 hour final examination

BMI courses are typically week-long intensive courses available periodically in specific locations in North America. Costs for these total about $10,000 plus travel expenses.  Attending CSCM meetings and conferences are also a large part of achieving the designation and gaining a better understanding of the Club Management side of the business.

What other routes could you have taken?

Diploma: Attending a recognized hospitality management program and working through internships and under mentors to gain club management experience would have been an alternative path.  This option was not proven when I enrolled in college and proper training for Club Management in Canada is still evolving. I chose Turfgrass, not only because I am passionate about the field but also because I felt it was a great way to be part of the club industry.

Business degree: An equally valuable option to CCM, but less specific to the club industry. The advantage to this avenue is it may give you better value if you decide to venture outside the club industry. My view is a hospitality management, or a business degree combined with the CCM designation will be a standard prerequisite in the future.

Mentoring & Internship: I think the most important experience and development strategy, whether it is for GM or Superintendents, is to find good mentors. Working with leaders in the industry and having the ability to gain from their experience is the best education you can get. There are some incredible GM’s in the industry without post secondary education, but in today’s competitive market, education and quality experience will certainly be a necessity in the future.

Any other advice to offer Supers looking to move up?

Superintendents have one of the most difficult jobs in the realm of golf. Daily decisions on the course can make or break the overall success of the business and there is always an element of risk in what Superintendents do. The challenges superintendents face and the projects that fall under their influence are often the most sensitive and costly within the organization. Gaining the skills to manage large projects, budgets, and teams while navigating through the committee structure, are all critical components to being a successful GM. Most Superintendents are natural leaders and are comfortable managing risk and a heavy workload, why not take that leadership and career to a new level?