Do you have a timeline of how you started accepting new responsibilities, especially with regard to managing lesson splits, kids or adult classes, and other instructors?
Toward the end of my first season, I started helping out with organizing and supervising the children’s lesson program, which evolved into a full-time supervisor role in subsequent years. After 10 years of engaging in many different aspects of ski school management, I landed my first ski school director role at Grand Targhee in 1995 and subsequently moved on to Breckenridge and Vail Resorts in 1999.
What other kind of work were you doing when you weren’t teaching, whether in the evening or the offseason, and how did that help you grow professionally?
Like most frontline resort employees, I had a second job in the winter working two nights a week at Calico Pizza on Teton Village Road and in the summers worked for Charlie Sands Whitewater Rafting.
At Calico, I learned a lot about community and giving back. The owner, John Becker, was very engaged in the community; he really cared and that showed in how he ran the business, how he gave back to the community, how his customers felt, and how he treated his employees.
At Sands, I had a chance to be really engaged in managing the business. Everything from logistics, sales and overseeing employees to creating operational standards for the office and managing daily finances. Charlie placed a lot of trust in me and I felt very empowered and rewarded for my contribution.
As you were promoted to supervisor, then director, how did you build your management skills?
I gained my management skills mostly by trial-and-error. And there were plenty of errors. We didn’t have the benefit of the kind of training and development that most companies have today. When I look back, I feel fortunate to have had the patience of those I worked with during my development as a leader. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some really terrific leaders; role models and mentors who really influenced my leadership journey.
How would you describe what you do now?
Everything I do should ultimately create experiences of a lifetime for our guests and employees. I just do it less directly than when I was teaching skiing or working in a resort; I have to do it now through leadership in a large, complex organization. It’s still very rewarding, though in a different way. In the end it’s trying to have a positive impact on the people you work with and our guests through leadership. And I still get to have direct impact with our guests and employees every time I visit a resort.
How does your teaching experience continue to inform the work you do?
It keeps me grounded in what we really do; providing experiences that enrich people’s lives. It also gives me a lot of perspective on the incredible work our employees deliver every day at the resorts.
What are the key issues and opportunities in your daily role?
- Safety is foundational to everything we do and top of mind every day. Our employees and guests place their trust in us to create and maintain a safe environment.
- Partnering in our communities to support the unique local culture and critical organizations that keep our communities sustainable and healthy.
- Growing a high-performing team that can execute on our vision today and into the future.
- Financial stability and sustainability, executing on our strategy, and taking a long view and sticking with the plan.