Gulf News recently caught up with Andrea Faldella, the experienced 38-year-old Italian, who has recently taken up the position of Club Operations Manager at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to get her thoughts on the challenges ahead and her vision for the future.
Where did your golf interest start?
I was born in Turin in Italy in 1982 and as I grew up in a traditional Italian way. Despite my interest in many sports, my entire family was made of golfers and so I have developed my passion for it. Furthermore, my grandparents also built a golf course! My life has always revolved around golf. Not to mention, my sister is a golf course superintendent and my wife, Martina, a good golfer too, has a brother on the European Tour Andrea Pavan, who has two wins to his name.
What is your golfing and career history?
I always played golf as long as I can remember. I was a scratch player and part of the Italian National Junior Squad Teams, however, my game now is definitely not where I would like it to be. I joined Royal Park Golf Club, Turin as Tournament Golf Administrator and it hosted four editions of the European Tour’s Italian Open from 2010-2013. In 2014, I attended the Club Managers of Europe training course and met UAE national golfer Rashid Hamood, formerly of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. He gave me all the key contacts of all the golf clubs in the UAE as it was my ambition to travel and gain experience. I wrote to everyone on the list with my CV and Chris Brown, the then GM at The Els Club connected.
In 2015 I came out to Dubai working at The Els Club as Sales and Membership Manager under Chris Brown, then Karl Whitehead and then Tom Rourke, who have all helped me in my career. I then moved to Golf Operations and a broader Club Operations role within The Els Club when we opened the extension of the club house.
I was then offered a lifetime opportunity by the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Mr Khalfan Al Kaabi, to join the team as Club Operations Manager and I have been here six weeks.
What are your personal ambitions?
I am ambitious and want to become a modern style and all-rounder General Manager. I have always felt my strengths are business development and facilities management, but also being a people person, whether with my working colleagues or externally with members and guests. I would like to be recognised for my leadership skills as well as assisting staff and colleagues in career progression, just as I have been helped myself. It is an exciting time to be at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with all the recent significant investment in the Clubhouse upgrades and refurbishment. However, on top of this, we are also working on further enhancements on the golf course, building an internationally recognised Golf Academy, and considering the addition of a floodlit Par 3. I am very proud to be involved in all these project and seeing them through to completion and opening.
How is your family adjusting to your new life?
Balancing work and family time is never easy when you work in hospitality. However, at the moment we still live in Dubai, where my wife works and where we have most of our friends.
Martina and I have a gorgeous seven-month-old daughter and we are loving life in the UAE. We cannot think of a better place to be at this time of our lives.
Regarding my golf, I am rarely playing due to my new position in Abu Dhabi, but as I settle in to the role it is something I would like to do, to play more golf, both for my job as well as for pleasure.