Aspen Skiing Co. scrambles supervisory duties
November 5, 2014
Aspen Skiing Co. announced restructuring Monday that adds responsibilities to the plate of second-in-command David Perry. The company also welcomed Rana Dershowitz as chief legal counsel and a member of its executive team.
Perry, who was senior vice president of the mountain division, is now chief operating officer. His expanded duties will include oversight of the ski and snowboard schools, mountain food and beverage and retail. He continues to oversee mountain operations, sales, marketing and events and summer business.
Matt Jones remains chief financial officer and will now head information technology management and development and strategic planning as chief information officer. He will oversee ticketing and guest services in addition to finance.
John Lilley was named to the newly created position of chief technology officer.
Jim Laing, formerly the vice president of human resources and retail, takes on the role of chief human resource officer. In addition to overseeing employment issues with the mountain division, he takes over the hospitality division's human resources role.
Don Schuster's role as vice president of hospitality put him in charge of hospitality operations along with development and project management. He will oversee the Limelight Hotel, The Little Nell and the Residences at Little Nell.
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Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said the company hasn't made any structural changes in the executive ranks in the eight years since he has been in his post. He acknowledged that Perry is taking on a substantial set of responsibilities, but said the company doesn't think in terms of promotions. He said it requires someone like Perry, with a wide breadth of skills and experiences, to take on all the tasks he now oversees.
Two of the past three times someone has been promoted to COO at Skico, they have later ascended to president and CEO. Bob Maynard appointed Pat O'Donnell COO in the 1990s, and O'Donnell took the helm when Maynard retired.
O'Donnell appointed John Norton as his second in command, but Norton eventually left the company. O'Donnell later appointed Kaplan as COO, in July 2005, and Kaplan was appointed to the top position 16 months later.
Kaplan, 50, said he has no plans of leaving his position any time soon.
He said his executive team meets once a week to talk about ideas as a team, so supervisory duties aren't as clear cut as they may seem. The internal restructuring is "really just changing who reports to whom," Kaplan said.
In some cases, officials have fewer areas of supervision on their plates. Laing will no longer oversee retail. Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations, will no longer oversee the director of the ski and snowboard schools, as he did for 15 years. Burkley used to report to Perry on ski school operations. Now, Perry will oversee ski school directly. He also oversees the retail operations.
The new structure makes more sense because it groups related areas of duties under the supervision of one person and it lets executives concentrate on special responsibilities, Kaplan said.
Laing oversaw retail operations of Four Mountain Sports and D&E when it was much smaller, for example. Meanwhile, human-resources duties have increased in importance. Human resources is much broader than making sure Skico's thousands of employees get paid on time, Kaplan said. Laing will focus on issues such as recruiting and retaining top talent and building careers, according to Kaplan.
The restructuring will allow Burkley to focus on expanding mountain operations responsibilities. For example, uphill traffic wasn't a large concern, but now it's a major fitness phenomenon. "We have some work to do on that going into the future," Kaplan said. Other growing concerns among mountain operations are an increasing number of special events and snow management, Kaplan said.
In short, he indicated that Laing and Burkley have plenty on their plates with retail and ski school, respectively.
No one is leaving the executive team, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.
Kaplan said it was vital for Skico to create the positions of chief information officer and chief technology officer. Technology has become "so pervasive" in the ski industry, he noted. Chairlifts and snowcats are among the "very sophisticated pieces of equipment" and e-commerce on websites is a growing and fast-changing part of the industry, Kaplan said. Creating the new technology positions is recognition of that important part of the business, he said.