In the 20 years since its inception, only 15 industry professionals have earned the Master Club Manager designation. As a new decade dawns, those in the elite group would like to expand the club.
The Master Club Manager (MCM) designation was created in the early 1990s by the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) as the ultimate step in professional certification for club industry professionals. It has proved to be so “ultimate,” only 15 managers over the past 20 years have completed the requirements needed to earn the designation.
CMAA’s MCM Academic Council is seeking to increase interest in, and pursuit of, the MCM designation in the coming year, and at the same time improve industry-wide exposure of the value of “monographs” that have been written, as part of the process, on a variety of timely subjects by those who have already earned MCM status.
Club & Resort Business will present summaries of some of those monographs in future Today’s Manager features. To kick off the series, we had this question-and-answer exchange about the MCM program with Joseph F. Basso, MCM, CCE, who is General Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Birmingham (Mich.) Country Club and the current Chairman of CMAA’s MCM Academic Council.
Q Joe, why was the MCM program originally conceived, and how has it evolved since its inception?
A Managers who are dedicated to professional development spend the early part of their careers setting themselves up for certification as a Certified Club Manager (CCM). This in itself can be a daunting task, with a specific educational development track that must be completed just to have the opportunity to sit for the exam.
After this has been achieved, the next hurdle has been meeting the qualifications for induction into the CMAA Honor Society. After reaching that, managers often asked “what’s next?”—and there really wasn’t anything. So in the early ‘90s, CMAA’s Board of Directors charged the organization’s Certification Committee with developing a program for the next level—the Master Club Manager designation.
|“The biggest value is what you learn about your abilities as a senior manager,” says Joe Basso, current Chairman of the MCM Academic Council.|
The program has undergone some major revisions in the last few years. One of the most significant is how we have revised the application to the program. The original application, called a Professional Development Form, was quite lengthy and very time-consuming to prepare. Potential candidates now submit a Master Club Manager Profile, which is a great deal easier to complete.
Q What is required to earn this designation—who can qualify, and how do they proceed?
Monographs have been written on these topics by those who have earned the Master Club Manager designation to date; articles based on some of these monographs will be presented as Today’s Manager features in future issues of C&RB; executive summaries of the monographs are also available at www.cmaa.org:
A The candidate must have met the criteria to become a Certified Club Manager and hold membership in the Honor Society. There is an additional educational requirement of 200 CMAA certification credits after entering the Honor Society, and at least 100 of those must be from CMAA-sanctioned educational programs. This also includes successful completion of the Business Management Institute (BMI) IV and V courses. Finally, the candidate must be an active member of CMAA at the time of application and have held that status for at least 11 years. Once they meet all these eligibility standards, candidates may complete the MCM Profile and submit it to the Academic Council for consideration.
Q What can be the career advancement value for someone who receives an MCM designation? Can it make a difference both within your current organization in terms of title, responsibilities, role, salary, etc., and also for your standing/potential within the industry at large?
A I can’t tell you with any degree of certainty that the MCM designation garners you a better compensation package. But what I can tell you—based on personal conversations with other CMAA managers, as well as Board members from a wide variety of clubs and some executive search consultants—is that it does increase your credibility and standing.
The opportunity to gain full recognition for what it means comes when someone asks an MCM, “What do those three letters stand for?” When others realize the level of commitment, dedication, and academic research that goes into achieving the MCM designation, that is what adds the value. But it is also as much about what the MCM certification process does for the manager to improve his or her knowledge and confidence.
Q Beyond earning the certification itself, what is the value of preparing a monograph? Are there limitations on topics? What is the process for first getting a topic approved and then for completing the monograph?
A The proposed topic is submitted with the MCM Profile, and the selection of the topic is limited only by your imagination. That said, though, the topic must be in an area and on a subject that can be adequately substantiated through research; at the end of the day, the monograph is an academic paper.
Many topic submissions are initially so broad that conducting the needed research for a comprehensive monograph would be an overwhelming task. The Council has often come back to ask several candidates, including me, to more narrowly define a subject, to ensure that this is accomplished.
Once the Council approves a topic, the candidate must then develop a support group, comprised of academics with some knowledge of the subject matter as well as existing MCMs, to help develop the monograph. At this point, the Council’s role is to help keep the candidate on track and avoid taking the wrong direction in research and development.
Many managers will tell you the biggest value of going through the process is what they learn about themselves and their abilities as a senior manager, and how it all helps to develop and refine your character. For myself, the development of my monograph—Building Bridges: Working With the Golf Management Team—was a very daunting and at times frustrating task. I owe my designation, to a large degree, to the MCMs in my support group and on the Council who provided constant encouragement and also tough love when I needed it.
Q How are the monographs and other aspects and benefits of the MCM program made available to everyone in the club industry, whether or not they want to pursue the designation themselves?
A The early monographs were actually published in soft-cover form. There are three editions in this format. Monographs written after 2002 are now available for public viewing at the CMAA web site—go to www.cmaa.org and pull down under the Education header on the home page to the link for the MCM Program and Monographs.
Several of the club management classes taught on university campuses now make use of this material in their curriculums. The CMAA’s Detroit Chapter has made it a required part of its Education Series on Club Operations and Management. Managers can also use the monographs as a source for information on building a wine list, writing a club history book, protecting a club from fraud, and much more (for the full list of topics for monographs completed to date, see the box above).
Q Why have only 15 people received the MCM designation to date? Are there misconceptions that it’s too complicated, too “specialized,” or that it doesn’t provide enough “return” for the effort? Is anything being done to try to encourage more people to pursue and earn the designation, and to make the process more “user-friendly?”
A There have been two- to three-year gaps where no candidates have pursued the designation. Probably the biggest obstacle was the old Professional Development Form that served as the application to the program. Each accomplishment over the course of a manager’s career had to be substantiated with supporting documentation. The total form was 30 pages long and with the required supporting appendices, it could become a 100-plus-page document. Unless you were a “pack rat” who saved absolutely everything over the course of your career, much of what was required could be difficult to reconstruct 20 or 30 years later.
The new Master Club Manager Profile still requires that the candidate note accomplishments in the same areas, but the requirement to support every accomplishment has been eliminated. The Council may still go back and ask that the candidate support an accomplishment with documentation, but it’s no longer required that everything be cross-referenced to “show your work” when initially submitting the profile.
This last year, the Council has also been very active in promoting the program and seeking out candidates who could make application. Part of the action plan has been a grassroots effort on the part of Council MCMs to contact their colleagues who qualify for the designation. The results have been positive. We presently have two candidates—Mitchell Platt of Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, Md., and Dennis Conneally of the San Francisco Yacht Club—who have had their MCM Profiles accepted by the Council and are working on their monograph proposals. We have one submission to be acted upon and several other managers who are currently developing their profiles.
Our goal was to have ten managers in the program at the end of 2009. While we missed that mark, I am confident we will see that number of managers in the process of attaining their MCM designation in 2010.