Striking a Balance

By | April 5th, 2018

Anne Stryhn, CCM, ECM, Assistant General Manager, The Country Club of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

Along the impressive career path that has taken Anne Stryhn through a variety of prominent clubs and to her current post as Assistant General Manager of The Country Club of Virginia, she’s learned that the best club managers are the ones who know when, and when not, to be on the job.

Since the beginning of her career in the private club industry, Anne Stryhn, CCM, has had a number of “firsts” as well as “seconds.”

In 1994, Stryhn became the first clubhouse intern for The Country Club of Virginia (CCV) in Richmond, Va. It was her first foray into the private club industry, and “that’s where the bug bit me,” Stryhn says. That position, under the mentorship of former General Manager Skip Harris, foreshadowed Stryhn’s future role during her second stint at the club that began in 2008 and started her on the path to becoming Assistant General Manager—the second in command.

As an intern, Stryhn visited each department within the club for weeks at a time, and in the end, came away with a holistic view of the entire club operation. Her current role (after leaving CCV for managerial positions at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Chevy Chase (Md.) Club and Baltimore (Md.) Club) is similarly broad-ranging, and is rooted in the relationships she’s developed with members serving on committees and fellow staff.

Ideas & Achievements Implemented at The CC of Virginia by Anne Stryhn

• For The Dominion Energy Charity Classic, Stryhn is responsible for coordinating efforts of PGA Tour event management, the club, the title sponsor, and 15 volunteer committees that guide the work of 1,300 volunteers.
• As chief club liaison to all stakeholders in an ongoing $19.6 million renovation and expansion of the property’s fitness and racquet sports facilities, Stryhn coordinates construction and ongoing club operations, while maintaining full transparency with the membership through six open houses.
• Guided the formation of the first membership department, including the hiring of the first Membership Director.

As The CC of Virginia works through a 20-month construction schedule for its fitness and racquet sports project (see rendering), Stryhn directs coordination with many parties to ensure club services are uninterrupted.

“I’m not directly supervising the people that I need to help me achieve my goals, so my role becomes very relationship-based, where I facilitate getting groups of people to work together and get the job done,” Stryhn says.

At CCV, Stryhn uses her adaptability skills on a daily basis, often completing paperwork at nontraditional times to make space for meetings throughout the day, along with whatever fresh new challenges may arise—from membership issues to proofing the club newsletter to helping to coordinate the logistics of club events.

“My biggest challenge comes from being a working mom—being able to balance being present for my kids and to be successful in a professional environment,” Stryhn says. “I feel extremely fortunate to work for someone like [General Manager Phil Kiester], who understands that balance—he embraces it and sees it as a positive. But it also feels like one of my biggest successes, too, because I became a key part of the organization despite having different home needs.”

Reflecting on her journey in the club industry thus far, Stryhn notes that one of her biggest learning experiences and most profound challenges came in the wake of destruction. In the late 1990s, CCV had a devastating fire while Stryhn was employed in the catering office, and at the time, her boss was on an extended vacation.

Stryhn with her family

“I had to step in and take the reins to relocate five months’ worth of wedding receptions,” Stryhn says. “It was one of the hardest, most time-consuming things I’ve done, but I learned the most and knew I wanted to continue in this field and go into a management role. Though it was a terrible situation, from a learning and opportunity perspective it was a game-changer for me.”

Now, Stryhn’s finely tuned balancing act has helped her earn “Rising Star” recognition through the 2017 Excellence in Club Management (ECM) Awards, co-sponsored by the McMahon Group and Club & Resort Business.

And while Stryhn notes that she is just the second woman to win the “Rising Star” award since it became part of the ECM Awards in 2004, it’s become clear to her that clubs, and hospitality in general, are moving in a more female-driven direction.

“It used to be that clubs were anchored in golf and geared toward the male in the household, but that pendulum has really shifted in the last 24 years,” she says.

That shift is reflected in more than just the changing makeup of club memberships, she adds. Looking at the people she now sees graduating from hospitality schools, Stryhn observes that it seems that more and more women are leaning into their careers. And that’s encouraging to her as she thinks of her stepdaughter, Sarah, who is in college trying to find her own path and was in attendance at the ECM Awards dinner as Stryhn accepted her award. (Click here for coverage of the dinner.)

“It was an important, profound moment for me for [Sarah] to be there and see that you can be successful at work and be recognized for achievements, but also still be a mom and wife and a woman in your own right,” Stryhn says.

NewECMlogoA Celebration of Excellence

The Excellence in Club Management (ECM) Awards were established by the McMahon Group, Inc., the St. Louis-based consulting firm, in 1997 and have been co-sponsored by Club & Resort Business since 2006.

The annual awards are selected through nominations submitted on behalf of qualified candidates by other parties. Award recipients are selected solely on the basis of their achievements at the club they currently manage. A Selection Committee comprised of a peer group of leading club managers conducts the judging for the ECM Awards.

Awards in four categories are given each year:
The James H. Brewer Award, for a manager of a Country/Golf Club with 600 or more full-privilege members
The Mead Grady Award, for a manager of a Country/Golf Club with fewer than 600 full-privilege members
The Mel Rex Award, for a manager of a City, Athletic or Specialty (Non-Golf) Club
The “Rising Star” Award for an assistant club manager

A full listing of judges, in addition to information on past winners and on how to nominate candidates for future years’ awards, can be found at www.clubmanageraward.com

In addition to in-depth articles in C&RB detailing the achievements of each ECM winner, individual ceremonies are held at their clubs. All winners were also honored at the 2017 Awards Dinner, which was held March 3 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco and was sponsored by ClubCorp, Denehy Club Thinking Partners, ForeTees LLC, Preferred Club, and Yamaha Golf Car.

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