“Working with Nick has also helped me realise that skills can be trained as long as the person has the right attitude. The opportunities I’ve experienced within Belgravia Leisure haven’t changed and they are there for anyone who is willing to put their hand up, back themselves and take on the challenge.”
Crystal Stephens – Executive Assistant, Belgravia Leisure
My story with Belgravia Leisure and passion for the industry we work in is a little different than most.
As some of you know I have worked with Belgravia Leisure coming up to 17 years in November. I have two precious little girls – Zoe (8) and Ashlyn (6), and I do try and juggle the balance between family life and being a mum along with my desire to have a fulfilling and rewarding career.
I grew up in a family of five children – yes we were just like the Brady Bunch. It was hard to get all five kids around to different sporting events and training so we were allowed to choose one sport and one sport only!
My choice was netball, where I continued this into my late teens eventually making it to State level competition. Throughout my primary school years growing up in a small country community, we didn’t have indoor stadiums to train in, only gravel outdoor courts where on many occasions we even played whilst it was snowing. The local netball club and those courts were such an important part of the local community particularly for the wives, partners and sisters of the local football players.
Dad Teaching Me How to Swim
I can recall as a four-year-old my Dad trying to teach me how to swim which I took to like a fish to water! Growing up on a farm we had three dams, and yep that’s where we did most of our swimming. There were no indoor aquatic centres nearby and the local pool only opened for a couple of months of the year. Through school, we’d get a couple of hours over two weeks for an intensive swimming program run by the lifeguards who also doubled as swim teachers and the pool manager!
I hold such fond memories of those hot summer days, the sounds of laughter, the bright pink zinc on the nose, the school swim carnivals and clearly remember that first-ever winning feeling. I went on to compete in state swimming carnivals each and every year. Not once did I ever receive training from a “coach”, it was all from training in our “big” dam and having to swim fast enough for the yabbies not to grab onto me! And pool inflatables..what were they!?!
We’d set up our own ropes and obstacle courses, that was innovation back then! Not all families have access to aquatic facilities and most kids in the country or outer suburbia at some point in time will find a creek, a river, a dam and even the ocean to play and swim in. After all, these are the experiences that will create those wonderful childhood memories, the family, friends and community connections along with the life skills developed through swimming. This is why I’m such a believer and advocate that each and every child in Australia should have the opportunity to be involved in swimming and learn about water safety.
I truly believe we here at Belgravia Leisure are the people that will continue to make this happen!
Later in life when I was 19, I lost my Dad to a heart attack. Dad collapsed on pool deck and as much as everyone tried to do all they could at the time, I guess we’ll never know if there had of been a defibrillator onsite if there may have been a chance of survival, after all, he was only 47 years old. My heart couldn’t be prouder of the ongoing initiative of Belgravia Leisure to ensure each of every facility is fitted with a defibrillator/AED device. What a difference this will make to the lives of the local community.
Not many people know that my Mum was also an employee at Belgravia Leisure National Office and held the role of Administration Manager whilst I was in the role of Operations Assistant. Shortly after Mum finished at Belgravia Leisure she suffered a major stroke resulting in an acquired brain injury and paralysis down the left side of her body. Through her own will to survive and dedication to her recovery and rehabilitation Mum lives independently with the assistance of carers and a government support package – Hello NDIS!
To this day she still continues with her therapies including visiting her local leisure centre and hydrotherapy sessions with her carers on a weekly basis. I can’t emphasise enough how important it has been for Mum to have access and be openly accepted within her local leisure facilities and community within that centre. Having access to all of the equipment and aids required and the importance of having them available and in good working order to assist her with her ongoing rehabilitation. Most of all having the team within that facility knowing her name and welcoming her into the centre each and every week plays such an important role in health and wellbeing.
My partner has been playing basketball for over 30 years and for the last 16 years with the same group of guys. They turn up to the same stadium every week, talk about how incredible their wives and girlfriends are (surely?!) all whilst enjoying a stadium that thankfully has slightly improved over the years.
However the umpiring still remains the same, it’s always the umpire’s fault. This group of guys now all have families of their own and over the last few years, their children have now began to bounce that ball. The kids are lifted onto their Daddy’s shoulders to score that goal that their little arms just can’t do on their own and right there is why we do what we do, we create opportunities for families to connect and to share the same passion and we happily watch the children become a part of their own little community and form a group of lifelong friends. As Belgravia Leisure, our role in all of this is to provide that warm welcoming environment, run the fun and innovative programs that create exceptional experiences where the families and individuals are willing and wanting to return each and every week, year after year, generation to generation.
I’ll Give Anything A Try!
As for me, I’ll give anything a try and at the age of 33 I took up tennis! I love spending an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon not only smashing a tennis ball around whilst laughing incredible hard at myself and my teammates! Surprisingly I’ve gotten more than what I would have ever expected. I’ve learnt to focus and control my energy, to breathe and to be less reactive and instead plan each shot whilst having the end in mind of winning that point.
As my coach began to drum this more and more into me, I too realised that my other coach, well my boss, had too been doing the same thing, the synergies were amazing! The one thing I can count on each and every week is that my coach will be there, our lessons always start on time, the court is always immaculate and all the equipment is ready to go. All I need to do is bring my A-game!
This is no different to the environment that our employees and customers should always be welcomed in to.
My Role and Involvement with Belgravia Leisure
My role and involvement with Belgravia Leisure have gone from strength to strength. My first role was as the National Office Receptionist and we had around 27 facilities under management. It was a delightful role and in most cases, I knew each facility manager along with the coordinators and admin teams on site.
In these early stages, we were developing our processes, the quality management system and financial systems and beginning to really back ourselves and be fairly aggressive with partnerships within the business development area. Our office team was small with only nine staff members. As we grew there became a need for an administrative assistant purely for the operations side of the business, hence the role of Operations Assistant was introduced.
Within this new role I worked closely with our General Manager and Regional Managers which also included the development and production and I mean production of tenders. Back then we’d literally have to print a whole forest! I’d also jump in and assist with transitions covering all things from employment contracts to uniforms. My sole focus was to assist the operations side of the business and as time went on I found myself wanting to explore more and more about different types of our facilities and roles that we play.
Over a two year period, I completed my Lifeguard and Bronze medallion certificates and worked my first ever Lifeguard shift at Coburg Leisure Centre on day one of the transition. I also completed my AUSTSWIM certificate and took my first-ever class at the Kilsyth Centenary Pool. I then went on to work at the Glen Waverley Golf Course with the 5:00am open shift every Sunday morning. From that point, I jumped back into the aquatics side of the business and completed my Pool Operators Certificate – completing this all in my own time which was a juggle but well worth the invaluable experiences!
Not long after this our General Manager became our CEO and took me with him as his Executive Assistant. This is where I gained a great deal of insight into the financial side of the business. P&L’s went from being scary complicated spreadsheets to helpful and manageable sources of truth. I had a greater insight into business decisions that also came with greater trust and respect from the executive team forming around me.
In the last five years, my role working alongside Nick as his Executive Assistant has taken a new direction. At the centre of my focus are our strategic priorities and our values. Everything we do as an organisation links back to our agreed priorities and our values. I hope that you’ll see from my own personal experiences that my own values, priorities and passion very much align with those of Belgravia Leisures.
Which is why I truly love what I do.
I believe as an organisation we must continue to do everything we can to connect our staffing community to Belgravia Leisure as our staff continue to connect communities to leisure.
Working with Nick has also helped me realise that skills can be trained as long as the person has the right attitude. The opportunities I’ve experienced within Belgravia Leisure haven’t changed and they are there for anyone who is willing to put their hand up, back themselves and take on the challenge.