Q&A with Kimberley Malcolm

Kimberley Malcolm
Senior Manager – Membership & Industry Engagement
Australian Hotels Association (Victoria)

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

I started at Zagame’s Caulfield 25 years ago having never poured a beer, I can’t really recall why I started in pubs. But despite not being able to pour beer initially, I guess I felt at home straight away, I learnt a lot about people and relationships working in pubs for about 10 years.

In pubs, you get all walks of life, it’s the most grounding experience and it teaches people so many transferable skills.

And so, my hospitality career started out like many others, pouring beers whilst studying at Uni. My passion quickly grew into a hospitality training career and I have now been with AHA (Vic) for over 9 years.

In my initial role at AHA (Vic) I spent the majority of the week on the road, visiting members throughout Victoria. My role on the road was to ensure members were kept informed on a variety of legislative and regulatory requirements as well as providing ideas around business development.

My current role now involves developing overarching strategy for membership growth and evolution. I am also responsible for engaging with many industry stakeholders including State and Local Governments through my involvement on Responsible Service of Alcohol steering committees, local liquor accords, The Victorian Pub Tab Committee and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

What excites you most about working in the gaming and/or hospitality industry?

No day is the same. Even on the days I think it will be similar to the day before, it never is. Whilst member issues are often the same, each member hotel has its own personality, its own quirk and uniqueness.

The passion I have for small business and advocating for Mums and Dads who put their livelihoods on the line keeps me energised.

Pubs are the heartbeat of communities, they are where communities celebrate, commiserate. They become central in emergencies and tragedies.

I feel connected to our members at quite a deep level, especially post COVID.

What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in the industry?

Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. It is important that you speak up for what is right.

No isn’t no forever, it might just be “not yet” so stand up for what you believe in. It may be seen as argumentative but if you truly believe in what you are fighting for or trying to achieve, you have to push back.

Finally, be yourself. It’s too exhausting trying to be one person in the office and someone else at home.

What is the best professional decision you’ve ever made?

What may read as a personal decision was in fact the best professional decision I’ve made, and that is accepting that being myself is enough.

Some years back it was inferred I was too emotional – that was probably the day I began to really question my style of communication and the way I lead.

And so, I reflected on what “being too emotional” meant for me. I reflected with friends, with my husband, my coach and realised that being emotional was a sign of strength. I’m no longer afraid to let the world see my emotions.

My emotions are what makes me who I am. It’s how I add the most value to my work, to our team and most importantly to our members. My emotions make me a better leader, coach, friend, wife and Aunty.

No longer is being too emotional seen as a negative for me.