Vail Resorts’ Katz moving into new role, new CEO appointed

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. — Vail Resorts on Tuesday announced that Rob Katz, who has led the company as its chief executive officer since 2006, will move into a new role as executive chairperson on Nov. 1. Kirsten Lynch, the current chief marketing officer, will be appointed chief executive officer and elected to the company’s board of directors.

Rob Katz has led Vail Resorts as its CEO since 2006. (Vail Daily News file photo)

In a news release, Vail Resorts said Katz will remain fully active and engaged in the company’s key strategic decisions and priorities. Also in the succession plan, Ryan Bennett, the current vice president of marketing and lift revenue, will be named Vail Resorts’ chief marketing officer.

Lynch joined Vail Resorts in 2011 as chief marketing officer and previously held senior leadership positions at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods. Lynch is a member of the board of directors of Stitch Fix, Inc., and in 2019, she was named to Forbes’ CMO Next list, recognized as one of the top 50 game-changing marketing leaders. Lynch grew up in Chicago, first skiing at the age of six at Wilmot Mountain, which Vail Resorts acquired in 2016 . She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and two children.

“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,” Katz said in a statement. “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.”

Lynch, in the same company release, said 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,” she said. “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 was appointed to the Vail Resorts board of directors in 1996 and named chief executive officer in 2006. As executive chairperson, Katz will remain a Vail Resorts employee and director, advising both Lynch and the board on long-term strategy and critical priorities. While he is stepping down from the day-to-day operations of the company, he will be actively engaged in key strategic projects and decisions. He will also remain involved in Vail Resorts’ activities around leadership development as well as its efforts to broaden diversity, equity and inclusion at both the company and throughout the industry.

“After more than 15 years in my 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,” Katz said in the company’s release. “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.”

He added: “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.”

Bennett joined Vail Resorts in 2018 as vice president of marketing analytics before he was promoted to his current role as vice president of marketing, lift revenue. In addition to leading the company’s season pass and lift ticket businesses, Bennett has driven numerous strategic revenue and guest experience projects. Prior to joining Vail Resorts, Bennett was with Boston Consulting Group for 11 years, including four years as a partner and managing director. Bennett has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A Florida native, Bennett now lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and three children.

“In his two and half years at Vail Resorts, Ryan has had a tremendous impact on so many aspects of the Company’s marketing organization,” Lynch said. “He has transformed the way we leverage data and driven material growth for our advance commitment strategy — all while building and leading strong teams to achieve ambitious goals. Ryan will bring his outstanding marketing, analytic and leadership experience to his role as CMO to help drive the future revenue growth of Vail Resorts.”

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