Meet the Mentor: James Ellender

James Ellender, NSW State Manager for Belgravia Leisure

What’s a typical day like for you?

No day is the same! My role sees me support a Management and Operations Team across 23 venues across 10 Local Government Authorities throughout NSW to ensure our operations are meeting the expectations and responsibilities of our Contracts. Ultimately, we all want the same things – more people using our venues and becoming healthier and happier as a result, and facility stewardship to ensure the assets have a long future for the communities. So, I move around and spend my time out in the field consulting with our clients, leading our venue teams and most of all, closely monitoring our customer experiences across the group. I am also in regular contact with our National Specialists who work out of Victoria, ensuring our management Systems are utilised and our business performance is on track. Belgravia Leisure is well very large and diverse group that is well systemised and tech savvy so as long as I have my phone and lap top, I can work anywhere and be on top of how we are trending.

Tell us a little about your career?

Over the past 15 years I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to lead a number of site redevelopments and openings, but the one that stands out is the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern and having the opportunity to work with the NCIE Ltd Board, Indigenous Land Corporation, the local community and many passionate people to open such an important community asset. The 2.5 years I was involved with the Centre was the most challenging and rewarding period ever and I use many lessons learned every day!

Can you share a little of what you think has been critical to your career success to date?

Fail fast, ask questions. Be inquisitive and don’t be embarrassed to ask questions or seek guidance.

What attracted you to the Mentor Program and the role of Mentor?

Throughout my career I have benefited greatly from my own mentors such as Centre Managers, Area Managers, CEO’s. But, the greatest of all development for me came from a volunteer mentor who took time out to help me greatly as part of a Mentoring Program. So, when the program came up I was keen to do the same and start ‘paying back’ some of my mentors.

Can you tell us a little bit about the project your team will be completing?

Our project is about improving our understanding of the collection and utilisation of data collected for casual health and fitness customers to ultimately convert them to members.

What has been the most surprising part of the Mentor program to date or what have you found most interesting or exciting?

That we all have very similar challenges. I’m very keen to see the outcomes of our project!

ARI thanks its partners in their generous support of the ARI Mentor Program and the aquatic and recreation industry.


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