State of Play : State of Play - Issue 1
14 | FEATURE | I t was a daunting affair for Club Callala’s Sean Wengel when he attended his first board meeting as most of the members were much older than him. Wengel was self-conscious, slightly intimidated and highly aware of his lack of experience in running a club. Being the youngest member on the club’s board, Wengel had some big shoes to fill and lots of expectations to meet. “I remember questioning myself whether or not I would be able to make a valuable contribution to the board, which already had members with years of experience,” Wengel says. Currently serving as one of the club’s directors and a member of the finance committee, Wengel admits he was green around the ears back in 2014, but was committed to help improve the club that has given him over 20 years of memories. “My family has a property in Callala Bay, so we have a long association with the town. Every holiday, for as long as I can remember, we would go into town and spend a lot of the time at the club, which was formerly known as the Callala RSL,” Wengel says. He adds that one of his best memories of the club was staring out the window at the green fields and watching the kangaroos. Over the years of visiting the club, Wengel began to notice things changing and the club did not feel the way it used to. “The atmosphere changed – and not in a good way. I found it getting left behind by other clubs in the area in terms of the upkeep and members were deserting,” he explains. With the club’s future important to him, Wengel strongly felt he needed to do something to turn things around. And to make a contribution or campaign for change, he knew he needed to be a board member. Fast forward to today, the business reconstruction and insolvency adviser is now a valuable member of the board and is spearheading changes within the club including renovations, smarter staff rostering, the introduction of cost savings measures and new member engagement initiatives. Wengel’s story isn’t a stand-alone. In many clubs across Australia there is a rising trend of younger people eager to contribute to clubs that they have grown up with and come to love. In doing so, they are defying the stereotypical image of club board members. COLLABORATION AND RESPECT ARE KEY At the Croatian Club, Geelong, best friends Marko Devcic and Luke Mandekic who serve as treasurer and assistant treasurer on the board respectively, believe the diversity of the board is what makes it so successful. “There’s more collaboration around the table despite difference in age and gender. The diversity means there are a lot of things I wouldn’t have thought of myself that the older heads remind me of. At the same time, having younger people on the board means we also get fresh perspectives and ideas,” says Mandekic. The duo have lots of memories of the club, from regular visits with their families to UNITY IN DIVERSITY There is a rising trend of younger members getting a seat on club boards, eager to contribute to the clubs they love with fresh perspectives. State of Play chats with four board members who are defying the image of the male, 60-plus board member.
State of Play - Issue 2 Vic