About mid-way through my club management career I met with my club president and told him that after serving as general manager for eight years, I wanted to leave the club for another opportunity. He said, “Why? I thought you would retire here.” I told him that was the problem; I already had. The team I had assembled did an outstanding job in the day to day operations, and quite frankly I needed some new challenges.

While the average tenure for a private club general manager is often a point for debate, I think the real question should be, “is there an ideal period of time to work at any private club?”

If I look at some of the executives at KK & W, the longest term of employment at one club belongs to Jack Sullivan who was at Grosse Point Yacht Club for sixteen years. That was followed by Kurt Kuebler at Loxahatchee for twelve years, then Tom Wallace at Oakmont for ten years and finally my eight years at Midland Hills (I am bringing down the average for our firm).

While the average of the above four terms of employment is about eleven years, I would submit that it is not so much about length of tenure as it is about remaining productive and relevant to the club you are serving.

However, I also believe that eight to twelve years is a significant amount of time to give to any one employer, and even top performing, long-tenured general managers might enjoy a change of scenery and a refreshing of their careers. Only you can determine where your “sweet spot” is, but you will probably recognize when the time is right for some new challenges.

In future articles our KK & W team will discuss in detail how to keep your career relevant and help you to stay productively engaged in your day to day leadership role. We will also discuss how to recognize the “speed bumps” that can often disrupt your career, sometimes when you least expect it. And finally, our suggestions will help you keep your “career sweet spot” for as long as you would like.

Richard M. Kopplin, CMAA Fellow, Partner KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE