Twenty-five-year-old Jennah Liskin has had success expanding the Naples, Fla. club’s outside business and is highlighted as a strong example of “GenNext” talent choosing clubs over hotels.
As part of a series in the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press where writer Laura Ruane has profiled “rising ‘GenNext’ stars in the hospitality industry,” a recent article highlighted the budding career of Jennah Liskin, Assistant Clubhouse/Banquet Manager at Wyndemere Country Club in Naples, Fla.
While she was in high school and greeting people while working part-time at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Jensen Beach, Fla., the News-Press article noted, Liskin wasn’t really thinking of a career in hospitality.
But she did like how the job allowed her to help make people feel happy and welcomed, though—and so once Liskin, a native of Port St. Lucie, Fla., enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, she quickly scrapped plans to major in forensic psychology, and instead entered the resort and hospitality management program.
Today, the News-Press reported, the 25-year-old Liskin, who has been in her job at Wyndemere about a year and a half, works with Clubhouse Manager Matt Malloy and another assistant manager to oversee 30 to 40 employees in her position is assistant clubhouse/banquet manager at the gated, private country club community. She helps to plan at least 100 events yearly and has
been charged with growing the club’s private-party business, and especially weddings, among customers who aren’t club members.
“She’s selling, booking, contracting and executing,” Jimmy Lynn, CCM, CAM, Wyndemere’s General Manager/COO, told the News-Press.
While many have the impression that students majoring in resort and hospitality programs end up working primarily at hotels, the News-Press article noted, a growing number in the greater Naples area, which has 90 golf courses and is ranked number-one in the U.S. for golf holes per capita by the National Golf Foundation, are building careers at country clubs. This semester, it was noted, Florida Golf Coast University has 40 students interning with country clubs, including two at Wyndemere.
At Wyndemere, food-and-beverage services alone bring at least $2 million yearly to the club, Lynn told the News-Press. The majority of that revenue comes from social gatherings created for the club’s 675 members, most of whom have homes in the community. Those gatherings can range from an intimate dinner for eight at a club member’s home to cocktails, dinner and dancing for nearly 300 people in a second-floor banquet room overlooking the golf course.
Lynn first hired Liskin when he worked at Gateway Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers, the News-Press reported. She was a full-time student at Florida Gulf Coast, but stepped in to run the club’s food- and-beverage operation six months into her job, after an unexpected vacancy opened up. Lynn then promoted her, officially, after high season ended.
“She’s mature beyond her years,” Lynn told the News-Press. “She’s very driven and detail-oriented.” And around members and other customers, he added, she “has a good way of getting people to laugh and to relax a little bit.”
Lynn also worked as an Assistant Banquets Manager in Texas with the Four Seasons Resort & Club Las Colinas outside of Dallas, the News-Press reported, before Lynn recruited her away to join him at Wyndemere CC.
Liskin recently joined the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), the News-Press reported, and said she’d like to follow what she’s learned from Lynn as her mentor to also be a country club general manager some day.
“He knows what he’s talking about,” Liskin said of Lynn. “And he has a way of smoothing things over, and letting everyone know it’s going to be OK.”
While Liskin said she loved the education she received at Florida Gulf Coast University, which included an internship helping plan events at the historic Burroughs Home in Fort Myers, she added that “honestly, I would say 70 percent of what I’ve learned has been on the job.”
“I’m a hands-on person,” she added. “I learn by doing.”
But that hasn’t included learning to play golf, she said. “I’ve tried it, but I can’t hit the ball,” Liskin told the News-Press.
A video of Liskin at work that accompanied the News-Press feature can be seen at http://www.news-press.com/story/money/2015/02/02/game-bringing-parties-naples-country-club/22742295/
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