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Vail Resorts announces CEO succession plan

The ski resort behemoth has named current CMO Kirsten Lynch to the company’s chief executive post, replacing Rob Katz just before the next ski season begins.

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The world’s largest ski resort owner and operator will begin the 2021/22 ski season with a new chief executive.

Broomfield, Colo.-based Vail Resorts Inc. on Tuesday announced that Kirsten Lynch, currently the company’s CMO, will be appointed CEO and elected to Vail’s board of directors on Nov. 1.

She replaces Rob Katz, who will be appointed executive chairperson of the board and remain involved in Vail’s key strategic decisions. Ryan Bennett, currently vice president of marketing, lift revenue, will be promoted to CMO.

Lynch’s promotion coincides with her 10-year anniversary at the company. She joined Vail Resorts in 2011 as CMO after holding senior leadership positions at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods. She grew up in Chicago, first skiing when she was 6 at Wilmot Mountain—a resort now owned by Vail Resorts. She lives in Boulder with her husband and two children.

Read more: Vail Resorts bumps up its wages

“Over her 10 years with the company, Kirsten has been responsible for the transformation and success of Vail Resorts’ data-driven marketing efforts and a primary driver of the company’s growth, stability and value creation,” said Katz. “In addition to having an incredible business acumen, Kirsten is one of the most passionate, driven leaders I have ever worked with. Her tremendous enthusiasm for the long-term vitality of our sport and a very high commitment to leadership development within our Company will make her an outstanding leader of Vail Resorts. Kirsten will also be surrounded by an extremely strong and tenured executive team.”

Said Lynch: “It is an honor to lead Vail Resorts as CEO and build upon Rob’s legacy of reimagining the mountain experience. I am passionate about this company, the leadership culture we have built and our 55,000 employees who make Vail Resorts the industry leader. Looking forward, I am excited about the incredible growth opportunities for Vail Resorts and committed to making our sport and our Company more diverse, inclusive, and accessible. Together, we will grow our business, innovate and continue to work toward our mission of creating an ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ for our guests and employees.”

Katz leaves after a lengthy tenure with the company. He was appointed to the Vail Resorts board of directors in 1996 and named CEO in 2006.

“After more than 15 years in the role, one of my top priorities has been to identify and prepare a CEO for the next chapter in the company’s growth and success and I am fully confident that Kirsten is that person,” said Katz. “And with our company having just navigated the most challenging period in its history and coming out stronger than when it began, this is the right time for me to take a step back and play a different role at Vail Resorts. I am incredibly proud of where our company is today and passionate about supporting Kirsten, our board, and our executive team in continuing to reimagine the mountain resort experience. While I am grateful to have been a part of so many of our company’s incredible accomplishments over the past decades, I’m most proud of our unique leadership culture and the amazing leaders we have at every level of Vail Resorts—who have been the primary driver of all the innovation, growth and success we have created together.” 

Vail Resorts’ new CMO, Bennett, joined the company in 2018 as vice president of marketing analytics before he was promoted to his current role as VP of marketing, lift revenue.