Jody Churich, Powdr-Woodward EVP and Chief Operating Officer, 2012 SAMMY Winner
Where you were in your career when you won a SAMMY, and big moments since?
When I won my SAMMY, I had just transitioned from being a ski resort president/GM to chief operating officer for Woodward. Big moments included a partnership formed with Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection, who are launching two new Woodward Action Sports Centers in Riviera Maya, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We are also in planning and permitting for a new Woodward in Park City, Utah. The existing Woodward Camps have just closed a third record season and the team has never been stronger.
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business?
Best Day: So many great and memorable days, hard to pick one. A few best day show-stoppers include a sizeable mountain transformation at Boreal (out with old lifts, in with new. Installed all new top-to-bottom automated snowmaking system—key timing prior to the drought).
Another true passion project was reimagining Soda Springs with a kids’ centric program and experience. It continues to flourish and we have been able to introduce tens of thousands of little ones to snow fun. Of course, the opening of Woodward Tahoe and its explosion [of success] has been one I will always hold near and dear. Looking back, all of those “best day” moments would not have been special without our amazing team, willing to take risks and get creative.
Who was/is a memorable mentor?
No question, John Cumming. I’ve learned the very valuable and critical pieces of business acumen from him. He’s humble, honest, smart and approachable. His story and true character is one that is grounded in a love for the mountains, sports, family, and the environment.
Did you ever almost leave the industry, and why? Why did you stay?
I’ve moved over from onsite resort management to managing the Woodward Camps, which exist at a couple of our company-wide ski resorts with more resort integration coming online. The ski industry has been the bedrock of my career and will always be in my DNA. I honestly have the best of both worlds by being in and adjacent to the ski industry.
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be?
I have a passion for kids and sports, so somewhere in that realm you will find me. The benefits of sports for young kids is life changing. It creates confidence, independence, friendships, teamwork, resilience and hustle. Sports build character.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket?
Hmmm, tough one.
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks?
Gross. Who doesn’t wash their ski socks after every use?
What’s the last thing you searched in Google?
Impossible question. I Google everything.
A shaken dirty martini
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award?
In my office, my prized bookend.
Thoughts on the future?
The future of the industry has some dynamic shifts taking place. Demographically, the swell of the Millennial generation, Gen Z, and the diversity of participants are calling for a shift in who we are serving and the values that are important to them. Climate change, social responsibility, business intelligence and data is evolving at a rapid pace and changing the way we will be conducting business.
Marketing in the social media era is also vastly different than it was just a few years ago. I have seen first hand how effective a strong, relevant marketing team can power growth and thrive. Mobile phones are the new television sets. The future is about recognizing change as an opportunity to stretch and grow.
I read a quote that speaks to how I feel about leadership and building a team: “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…they set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role—always about the goal.”