Q&A with Rob Wright: From Pro in Training to Leading the Next Generation of CDT Professionals
Rob currently serves as Senior Director at Omni Amelia Island Resort. Originally from England, he began his journey with Cliff Drysdale Tennis in 2016.
How did you start your journey with CDT and where are you at currently?
I was back home teaching tennis in a little bit of rain, while Elliott Pegg (director at Southampton Racquet Club) and my brother, Harry (director at the Spanish Hill Club) were out in the US having a great time doing cool events out in the sun so from there I got in contact with Scott Colebourne and in February 2016 I started out in Amelia Island as a tennis pro in training.
You have had quite the journey so far and now you are the Senior Director in Amelia Island, what would you say has been the most challenging for your process and how did you overcome it?
I mean there's all different challenges depending on which position you're in. I've held so many different positions at this point, started as a TPA, then being a pro, following by a head pro position, assistant director to director and currently a senior director. My goal when I came here was to see as much of the country as possible while working, so moving around was challenging but exciting at the same time. While you are in your 20’s it’s a good thing to move around and meet new people, as you get to your 30’s you would prefer settling down more, so the initial challenge was the moving and another one was the American culture a bit. I had to learn to get my jokes across better and integrate myself more into the American society versus the reserved and dry English.
Since you've been through so many leadership positions, what do you think would be three strengths that a leader should acquire?
The most generic one would be to lead by example but will not get into that one in too much detail. Being organized, setting the schedule as much in advance as possible so your staff can plan their schedule in advance, communication would go hand in hand with this one as well. Being personable is important so that your team can feel comfortable knowing they can come to you with anything and lastly being relatable. Even though I am the Senior Director, I am still on court teaching the camps or clinics, there is no ego, and I can be relatable-I am first a tennis pro and not just Rob the Senior Director. So I would say communication, being organized, being personable and being relatable.
Talking about the leadership roles, what advice would you give somebody that would try to become more of a leader in the position that they're in and step up?
The first thing would be to excel in the position you are in now. So if you are a tennis pro, that doesn’t mean just teaching great tennis, it is in the details such as showing up on time is huge, being reliable, you know if you got a good pro who is flaky or literally running to the court last minute is not a great trait. Even if you are just in a teaching pro position, you can excel at communication, being reliable, being on time, go out and practice your feeding, do some research on new drills to share with the team; these are some characteristics a leader would possess versus just someone who comes into work to teach tennis and does not put in the extra work.
How would you be able to measure your reward for your hard work so far?
I like seeing some of my pros like Gregor Brydon (Director at the Club at Castlewood) and Trevor Spencer (Director at Chateau Elan) coming here and leaving to become directors, that gives me a lot of satisfaction. So it is nice to know they may have learned a couple of things from me while they were here so I think being able to pass on the knowledge that I also have learned from people who have taught me is a great reward.
What are you looking forward to in the next upcoming year?
This time of the year is great on reflecting on how the year has been as a whole and identify which parts of the program could improve. I am excited to try and do more with our junior program and host more pickleball tournaments as well. Kyle Edwards, the Head Pro has been doing an amazing job with pickleball tournaments this year, and it is good exposing the facility to our programming so 2023 will be a challenging year but it should be a great year.