Q&A with Danielle Barnes

Danielle Barnes

General Manager, Springwood Sports Club

How did you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position? 

When I started in hospitality, I was not looking for a career. I had experience working in cafes and restaurants, and I loved being around people. I was looking for a role I enjoyed, that also allowed me enough flexibility to study at Uni.

My start in Clubs was not actually inside the Club at all – as part of the promotions team, I was out on the road, at beaches and holiday parks, talking to locals and connecting with businesses. Over the next ten years, I dipped my feet into almost every department within the organisation – Catering, Beverage, Member Services, Gaming, Fitness & Aquatics, Operations and Marketing. In March this year, after a decade with Mingara Recreation Club, I accepted the role of General Manager at one of our sister clubs; Springwood Sports Club.

What excites you most about working in the Gaming and Hospitality Industry?

The gaming and hospitality industry is fast-paced and ever-changing. I love the role we play in our customers’ lives, and the relationships we get to build with them and the wider community. Many of our long-term members and customers have known our team for years – our Clubs have become a second home for many of them.

With growth and change, it’s also exciting to recognise the number of opportunities that exist within this industry. I think traditionally, hospitality has a reputation for being a “passing through” industry – I certainly approached it that way when I started my first job in a café.  The pathways and options available to you, really are endless! Once you open a door and start looking, it is almost impossible to stop – these opportunities have been a huge motivator for me.

What is the best decision you’ve ever made, professionally? What is one thing you would do differently if you had the chance?

I can pinpoint a time in my career about five years ago when I made the challenging decision to leave my comfort zone and run towards something bigger. I was content and happy in a role that gave me so much joy and fulfilled my need to help others. But I wasn’t challenged, and I had stopped growing.

I walked away from the familiar, and into a space that was brand new, with no road map and no idea where to start. Fortunately, was overwhelmed with support. I was given space and trust, as well as enough autonomy to pave my own way. There were mistakes (there always are!) but there were also lots and lots of wins.

Over the last ten years, I have collected, lost, created, and given away what feels like a million puzzle pieces – relationships, lessons, tools, failures, beliefs that have all shaped my worldview, and my career. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

Who or what inspire you and why? 

I am inspired by people who want to create, innovate, and give back – globally or locally. I’m fortunate enough to work for an organisation that values being memorable, progressive and part of a team, which means I am never far away from someone inspiring!

What advice would you give someone entering the gaming and/or hospitality industry for the first time?

  • Don’t box yourself in. There will be enough road-blocks and challenges along the way, don’t make yourself one of them.
  • Find a mentor. I have had some wonderful mentors – men and women, all with different skills and experience who work across a range of industries. All of them had a genuine need and desire to give back to those around them.
  • Be a mentor. At the end of the day, we’re all only here for a certain amount of time. Find out who wants to sit in your seat (and why) and then help them to get there.


Thank you