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Ski Area Management – Michael Berry – CSU Online

Ski Area Management – Michael Berry – CSU Online


Hi, I’m Michael Berry, and I’m president of
the National Ski Areas Association, and we’re a trade association that serves
the ski industry throughout the United States. Myself personally, I was in the ski
industry on the resort side for many years. I work does and ultimately ended up
working as the CEO and general manager of Kirkwood in
California. This is an interesting time for the ski
industry. The ski industry, the resort side of the industry is doing
very, very well. We’ve sent a couple record years in the
last decade. We’ve, in the last three decades, we’ve
seen increasing parades of participation, we’ve seen increasing
number of tickets sold, and actually the ski industry across the
board. Both are at every level: Mom, Pop, medium-size. Any part of the country is
probably doing as well now as it’s ever done. It’s an interesting time I think, quite
honestly as well for people growing up who might be considering entering in the
industry. There’s a generational transition that’s
going to take place, and in fact, is already begun. That’s going to take place over the next
five years, and it’s fairly definitive. A lot of
senior managers, a lot of CEOs are gonna be retiring. What that does
is it ratchets everybody up in the organization, creates great opportunity, and quite
honestly that opportunity would be- would be best taken advantage of by
people who have some way of making a distinction for
themselves, and I think quite honestly the SKAM program is one of those things that can make a
huge distinction between yourself, and any number of other
people who might be interested in roles in the industry. As I said
earlier, I think there are wonderful, incredible, opportunities in mid and
senior management that are going to open up in the industry, and having the the background, having the framework,
having an understanding of the industry, and I think this
program will provide you with that. I think you’ll find that there are incredible opportunities. There are
opportunities for women in senior management, there are opportunities for a almost
anyone who’s willing to make the commitment, and aspires to be part of a great
industry, and a great experience. You know, if I just
look at the next generation of managers, it’s not too dissimilar
for the next generation as it was for
several previous generations. First of all, a passion for the outdoors. It’s
fundamental. An appreciation of how we change
people’s lives, and how skiing and snowboarding, quite
honestly, bring people together in a way that not
many other activities do. You know, we talk a lot about competing
activities, but at the end to the day, skiing and
snowboarding is absolutely unique in terms of changing the quality of
people’s lives, and I would argue that you can be part
of that, and you can witness that change. I myself have
witnessed it time, and time, and time again, and whether
that’s introducing people to the sport, developing programs for people with
disabilities, finding young people with a passion
for the sport, but no means our mechanism to do it, and finding those ways to assist them. I think makes the sport and makes the
business, quite honestly, an exceptionally interesting one. Having a kind of passion for the sport is
one thing. Having a passion for the industry is another, and you develop that. Quite honestly, we
did, and I think everybody, all of my peers did, and I certainly did, but it requires a
commitment. It requires that you realize that there
are no Christmas days off. There are, you know, you’re there to serve
the guest, you’re there to take care of the guest, and the fact of the matter
is that you work your hardest, quite honestly,
through times when other people are having the times of your life, and
the joy in that is that your’e the responsible individual. You’re the one who created the
environment to allow these people to have an experience that’s
unparalleled and without comparison, and for me, there’s real joy in that. So if you’re
going to choose a profession where in fact you find business
satisfaction, where you find personal satisfaction, and also the satisfaction of knowing that you changed
people’s lives forever, the ski industry certainly is
one to consider. It’s interesting myself, if I
look at my career trajectory in the industry, I taught skiing all through college, and basically I decided to start at the
bottom and got a job at a ski area back east
after having taught skiing through most of college, and kind of worked my way up through Vail,
and Sun Valley, Keystone, and ultimately to Kirkwood but
interestingly enough, when I got to Kirkwood, I realized that maybe I didn’t have the
skill set to position me for my job as the CEO of Kirkwood. So I spent a
summer at Stanford Graduate School of Business
Administration getting a certificate in a business
management for smaller companies. While it was valuable to me, and it helped
me understand how about a balance sheet neded to be read, and help me understand about things like
cash flow in the Vitara and all the things that are fundamental
to a business an understanding of the business side of the ski industry, it happened later in my
career, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t
specific to the ski industry, and one of the great things, one of the
great distinctions about the CSU program is that it’s very specific to the ski
industry, and so you’re the asset base that you build here will
be immediately transferable to any career or any position that you
might take in the ski industry, and so while a
generic MBA might be of assistance to you, quite honestly a specific program
such as SKAM could be a a much greater assistance as you try
to aspire to achieve success in the industry. My suggestion would be to position
yourself with the combination of work experience, and education, and insure yourself that
you are a person who has all of the credentials, all of the
opportunity and, quite honestly, can take advantage of
what I see as unlimited career opportunities.

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